The 17 Must-See Festivals for Country Music in 2016 – Your Ultimate List

The 17 Must-See Festivals for Country Music in 2016 – Your Ultimate List
Stagecoach Country Music Festival at The Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/ Getty)

Festival season is upon us, and country music fans have plenty of boot-stomping fun to look forward to this year. From bluegrass and blues groups to indie folk acts and jam bands, country music festivals are embracing an increasingly diverse variety of sounds and styles in their lineups – and we dig it. Dedicated country festivals are popping up all across the country, so no matter where you live, you can enjoy great outdoor performances this year (and maybe discover new music along the way!).

Here are 17 country festivals in 2016 you won’t want to miss if you love country music.

1. ACM Party for a Cause, April 1-3, Las Vegas, NV

A top-notch country fest, a worthy cause that provides music therapy and education to those in need, and a trip to Vegas all rolled in to one? Jackpot. The ACM has really outdone itself with this year’s lineup — major talents like Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Stapleton, and Maddie & Tae will warm up the stage for headliners Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, and Kenny Chesney in what promises to be one of the best fests of the season. Plus, it’s Vegas — hit the strip before or after the show to enjoy all that Sin City has to offer. The ACM Awards happen on April 3, see which ACM 2016 Awards nominees and performers are on tour.

2. Tortuga Music Festival*, April 15-17, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Rock the Ocean’s annual Tortuga Music Festival benefits — you guessed it — ocean conservation, and has raised more than $250k over the years towards this commendable cause. The festival literally takes place on the sand at Ft. Lauderdale Beach Park, meaning you can set up a blanket in front of the stage, rock out in your bathing suit, and hop in the ocean between sets. Unreal! Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, and Dierks Bentley are the kings of the beach this year, with support from a great lineup that includes such diverse acts as Elle King, Sam Hunt, and Michael Franti & Spearhead.

3. Stagecoach*, April 29-May 1, Indio, CA

While pop, rock, and EDM fans make the annual pilgrimage to Indio for Coachella, country fans know that there’s no better place to be this spring than Stagecoach Festival. With heavyweight headliners like Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, and Luke Bryan as well as a heaping helping of great supporting acts (A Thousand Horses, The Band Perry, and Sam Hunt to name a few), Stagecoach serves up country music’s best and brightest in an unbeatable open-air setting in the California Desert. It’s also the highest-grossing country music festival in the world, and for good reason — from the epic lineup and awesome camping scene to the great food and drinks, Stagecoach is the best of the best.

4. iHeart Country Festival*, April 30, Austin, TX

If you love the Lone Star State, this is the fest for you. Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and the Zac Brown band head up this year’s lineup, while Florida Georgia Line, Brett Eldredge, Lee Brice and many more great artists round out the bill. The Frank Erwin Center seats nearly 18,000 fans, and the rush of hearing such a huge crowd cheer on these superstars takes the experience to the next level. As if the all the great music wasn’t enough, Austin is one of the hippest cities in the country, offering up tried-and-true Texas traditions like great BBQ along with a vibrant arts and culture scene that have made it a music hotspot for fans of all stripes.

5. Susquehanna Breakdown, May 20-21, Scranton, PA

Susquehanna is more of a folk, roots, and bluegrass festival, but those genres share plenty of DNA with country music, and fans will find lots to love at this year’s festival. In addition to great acts like Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Cabinet, fans can soak up the festival’s pristine mountain location (an off-season ski resort!) and enjoy its bountiful array of craft food and beverage offerings. With top-notch music and great camping facilities surrounded by lush mountain wilderness, Susquehanna is the total package.

6. Country 500, May 27-29, Daytona, FL

Memorial Day Weekend in Daytona? Party time! Country 500 promises to be as wild as ever this year with headliners Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Florida Georgia Line and fantastic additional acts like Willie Nelson, Little Big Town, and Clare Dunn. If Daytona’s legendary spring party scene isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of natural beachside beauty to enjoy before and after the festival.

7. Bayou Country Superfest, May 27-29, Baton Rouge, LA

The Bayou Country Superfest at the LSU Tiger Stadium is a tailgater’s dream. After pre-gaming outside the stadium, fans at this year’s festival can get down with headliners Luke Bryan, Eric Church, and Jason Aldean as well as powerhouse performers like Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Little Big Town. While you’re in town don’t miss out on the unique Creole heritage and red-hot Cajun cooking of beautiful and historic Baton Rouge.

8. CMA Music Festival, June 9-12, Nashville, TN

What better place for a country festival than Music City? Although the lineup for this year’s CMA fest hasn’t been announced yet, we’re betting it’s gonna be pretty epic based on last year’s bill (Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, and more). With more than 400 artists performing over four days, the festival is one of the biggest country events of the year, and fans can enjoy the pleasure of seeing both established superstars and talented up-and-comers perform at the event. Plus, Nashville is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — a must-see for any country fan.

9. Country Fest, June 16-19, Cadott, WI

Located on a natural 380-acre amphitheater, Country Fest is one of the oldest and biggest country music festivals in the country. It’s a camper’s paradise and a perfect escape from city life, with more than 7000 campsites on the premises and gorgeous natural surroundings. This year’s lineup features headliners Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley, and Carrie Underwood along with Sam Hunt, Chase Rice, Maddie & Tae, and more.

10. Windy City Lakeshake, June 17-19, Chicago, IL

Chicago’s premier country music festival is located on the 91-acre Northerly Island peninsula that juts out from the city into Lake Michigan, offering fantastic views of both the skyline and the lake. In addition to all the great things the Windy City has to offer, fans at this year’s festival can get down with headliners Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, and a rare and super special appearance from the one and only Brooks & Dunn!

11. Buckeye Country Superfest, June 18-19, Columbus, OH

Plenty of boots will be stomping in the Buckeye State this June for the 2nd annual Buckeye Country Superfest, which brings some of the biggest names in country music to Ohio Stadium at Ohio State University (aka “The Shoe”). After you’ve had your fun with headliners Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Thomas Rhett, and Randy House, don’t miss out on Columbus’ historic German Village, where beer, sausage, and schnitzel flow freely.

12. Faster Horses, July 15-17, Brooklyn, MI

Set among the rolling Irish Hills of Brooklyn, MI, faster horses has become one of the most popular country festivals of the year, appealing to a younger set of country lovers with its hip lineup, great camping, and attractions like bonfires and other activities. This year Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, and Jason Aldean headline the fest, with support from favorites like Jana Kramer, Sam Hunt, and Wynona & The Big Noise. A quick shot from Detroit, Brooklyn makes for a great getaway, replete with lush green hills and scenic lakes.

13. Jamboree in the Hills*, July 14-17, Belmont, OH

Jamboree in the Hills is known as the “Super Bowl of Country Music” and for good reason. Serving up four days of boot-stomping music in the gorgeous rolling hills of Belmont, Ohio, Jamboree has become one of the biggest country music events of the year. The Jambo has been taking place since the ’70s, and fans really get a sense for the festival’s history and traditions over the course of the action-packed long weekend. This year headliner Brad Paisley will be joined by a fantastic lineup that includes Brantley Gilber, Alan Jackson, Neal McCoy, Kid Rock, and more.

14. Cape Blanco, July 29-31, Cape Blanco Road, OR

Held along the rugged and picturesque Oregon Coast, the Cape Blanco music festival boasts outdoor activities like camping, fishing, and hiking in addition to loads of awesome country music. Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Kenny Chesney are all headlining this year’s festival, and rumor has it more than 20,000 people will be flocking to Oregon to enjoy the fest this summer.

15. Mountain Home, July 29-31, Elmore County, ID

The same weekend as Cape Blanco goes down in Oregon, Mountain Home offers up its own stellar lineup of country superstars in the scenic rolling hills of Idaho. This year’s festival is hosted by country sweetheart Pam Tillis and features headliners Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, and Kenny Chesney. The festival is situated at the base of Saw Tooth National Forest and the Saw Tooth Range — a gorgeous setting for camping and getting down with your favorite country artists.

16. Watershed Festival, July 29-31 & August 5-7, George, WA

Top-notch country music with a side of insanely gorgeous views? We’re sold. Watershed has it all — a killer lineup, awesome camping facilities, and an unbeatable outdoor setting at the majestic Gorge Amphitheater, which features some of the most gorgeous vistas the Pacific Northwest has to offer. This year’s lineup boasts headliners Eric Church, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban alongside a bevy of additional stars like Brothers Osborne, Merle Haggard, and Raelynn.

17. Route 91 Harvest, Sept 30-Oct 2, Las Vegas, NV

Located on the Vegas Strip, Route 91 Harvest offers a world-class festival experience right in the heart of all the fabulous hotels, classic casinos, and glitzy attractions Sin City has to offer. This year’s lineup is a serious winner, bringing together headliners Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, and Toby Keith with no-frills favorites like David Nail, Chris Young, and Billy Currington.

Music Festival Guide 2016

*Resale prices may exceed face value.

This post was originally posted in March 2016.