15 Live Music Festivals to Attend in 2015

Article by: Lauren Jahoda|@jahodarose

Tue January 20, 2015 | 00:00 AM

Our list of top 15 live music festivals to attend in 2015 reveals the new, the noteworthy and the rising. While your list of resolutions for the new year is hopefully still motivating you, consider adding our list of music festival must-sees, as Rock in Rio lands in the US for the first time, Paléo adds a 7th day (for its 40th birthday!) and the Governors Ball crowd grows with each budding year.

1. Rock in Rio USA Las Vegas, Nevada

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Photo by: Bruno Farias Creative Commons

Founder, Roberto Medina’s dream brought 1.5 million people to Rock in Rio’s first year (Rio de Janeiro, 1985). Three cities and thirty years later, Sin City has become Rock in Rio’s exclusive USA site. The mega-fest will occupy two weekends – “Rock Weekend” and “Pop Weekend” – and 50 acres of MGM Resort’s Festival Grounds, with 3 thematic streets, 6 stages, Cirque de Soleil and a talent roster of Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, No Doubt, Metallica, John Legend and more.

2. Firefly Music Festival Dover, Delaware

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Photo by: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Since its inception (2012), Firefly’s attendance has nearly tripled, adding $68 million to Delaware’s economy (equivalent to 579 full-time jobs). Red Frog Events (founders), have partnered with Goldenvoice (the team behind Coachella and its country cousin, Stagecoach), for the much-anticipated third edition. 2015 will also bring the first broadcast of the 4-day festival in The Woodlands to AXS TV, which already broadcasts from Coachella, Stagecoach and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

3. Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival Eau Claire, Wisconsin

While many details are under wraps, this newcomer’s first round of presale tickets sold out on the day of its release. A personal message from Justin Vernon, Bon Iver frontman and curator for Eaux Claires, foregrounds the official website; a candid narrative and prelude to his homegrown celebration. Vernon is teaming up with Aaron Dessner (The National) and the production group behind Boston Calling, to bring EC to life.

4. Life Is Beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada

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Photo by: Powers Imagery

The festival itself takes place across three days in Downtown Las Vegas, but the Life is Beautiful team asks that you participate in their project every day of the year. Their goal: to inspire people to see the world differently, share experiences and create anew, in a space both online and at the festival. To start your experience, go to their “INSPIRE” page for perspectives on Bullying, Coming Out, Fear of Failure, Finding Love and more.

5. Big Barrel Country Music Festival Dover, Delaware

 2015 marks the inaugural year for Big Barrel. Greg Bostrom (Director, Firefly/Big Barrel) establishes Big Barrel as “the benchmark for country music experiences this side of the Mississippi River.” Like Coachella’s Stagecoach, Big Barrel is the country cousin of Firefly, but distinguishes itself from fellow country fests with a sweeping lineup. Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shakey Graves, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Deslondes and Billy Joe Shaver are some of the 36 artists on the list. 

6. Governors Ball Music Festival Randall's Island, New York

Hero Governors Ball Art Gimbel

Photo by: Art Gimbel

In 2010, three 27-year-olds launched the first Governors Ball, a one-day, 12-act event, which brought 20,000 to Randall's Island. By 2014, it left its namesake island and relocated to Randall’s Island to accommodate its growth to a 3-day, 68-act, 50,000-person, ever-expanding music fest. Governors Ball has proven itself a perennial fixture in NYC’s backyard. Co-Founder, Jordan Wolowitz says plans for 2015 include making last year’s main stage the secondary stage, adding a “bigger, more badass” main stage, and investing in more art and food programs. 

7. Lollapalooza Berlin, Germany

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Photo by: Elizabeth Harper

Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport will serve as the 1st European edition and 4th international host for Lollapalooza. All Lollapaloozas sold out in 2014, grossing a total of $66.5 million and collectively drawing over 600,000 attendees. The team behind its 2015 edition includes Festival Republic (Reading and Leeds Festivals), Melt! Booking and the US team of Perry Farrell, William Morris Endeavor, and C3 Presents, guaranteeing the steadfast Lolla-standard.

8. Forecastle Festival Louisville, Kentucky

Founder and Louisville native, JK McKnight began Forecastle as a small community event at Tyler Park. McKnight remains the festival’s Captain (alongside AC Entertainment), and creator behind The Forecastle Foundation (the festival’s activism arm). The foundation’s maxim – Rebuilding our world’s natural awesome. With attendance doubling from 2012 to 2014 at Waterfront Park, Forecastle has landed Louisville a firm spot on the music festival map. 

9. Osheaga Music & Arts Festival Montreal, Canada

Hero Osheaga Susan Moss

Photo by: Susan Moss

Osheaga 2014 brought an astounding 120 acts and 135,000 fans (a 15,000 increase from 2013) to Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau. This year's mega-fest is poised to exceed our wildest expectations as it celebrates its 10th Anniversary. Founder, Nick Farkas, confirms that big plans, and talks with top managers/agents, are in the works for 2015, including potentially redesigning the main stage to accommodate more fans.

10. Latitude Festival  Southwold, England

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Photo by: Marc Sethi

Founder, Melvin Benn has confirmed that all three headliners are secured for Latitude’s 10th Birthday event in 2015. Without revealing names, Benn shared, “The birthday theme is something you’ll see all across the festival with 10 acts from Latitude 2006 coming back for a special homecoming show.” Since its 2006 start, Latitude, winner of the ‘Dan Crawford Innovation Award’, has grown to a more than 15 stage and arena event.

11. Hangout Music Festival  Gulf Shores, Alabama

Hero Hangout Josh Rhinehart

Photo by: Josh Rhinehart

Hangout Music Festival made its debut on the Gulf Shores of Alabama in 2010 and is a strong presence among today’s rising music festivals. 2014 was a sold-out edition and news for 2015 comes with City Council’s unanimous vote to extend the festival through 2020.

12. North by Northeast (NXNE) Festival & Conference  Toronto, Canada

This multimedia festival draws 350,000 and over $50 million to Toronto each June. In 2015, NXNE will celebrate its 21st year with momentous changes, including partnerships with MaRS Discovery District and Pitchfork. Christopher Roberts (Festival Director) recently commented, “This partnership will mark an important milestone in NXNE’s growth…We are excited to have a home where innovation is the priority year round.” MaRS’ 1.5 million-square foot complex is the new home for this year’s gathering.

13. DIRECTV’s Super Fan Festival  Glendale, Arizona

Until Jack Murphy became involved in 2010, this pre-Super Bowl event (which began in 2007) was a flag football game on a beach in Miami. For the first time, DIRECTV’s Super Fan Festival will span three days at the 40-acre Pendergast Family Farm, directly across from the University of Phoenix Stadium (host of Super Bowl XLIX). The lineup already includes Zac Brown Band, Calvin Harris, Imagine Dragons and Snoop Dogg.

14. Paléo Festival Nyon, Switzerland

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Photo by: Pierre Descombes

For the 40th Birthday edition in 2015, Paléo is adding a 7th day. Organizers are promising it will be “full of surprises and new projects specially concocted for the occasion.” Announcements for 2015 include that the Village du Monde (The World Village) will be “vibrating to the sounds, colours and flavours of the Far East.”

15. Øyafestivalen Oslo, Norway

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Photo by: Øyafestivalen

Shortly after the close of its 2014 edition, Norway’s Øyafestivalen received two outstanding awards – Matprisen and A Greener Festival Award 2014. Øyafestivalen is one of nine festivals worldwide, and the only Scandinavian festival, to land in the highest category of the latter award. Florence + the Machine, The War on Drugs, Run the Jewels, Future Islands, Foxygen and Father John Misty are just some of the artists already confirmed for 2015.