So a few years back, music festivals started dropping like flies — particularly country music festivals. A whole gaggle cropped up thanks to the booming popularity of the genre. But then, just like that, promoters canceled them left and right.
The good news? The best ones survived, and now there are plenty of great chances to catch a whole slew of artists with your friends. And festival season is pretty much year-round now. (Hey, if you can find good weather, you’ve got a reason to host a festival).
Here is your guide to the 22 best country music festivals of 2017, in chronological order for your reading pleasure.
Crash My Playa (Jan. 19-22)
Luke Bryan’s bash really grew into a party. The four-day fest features two headlining sets by Luke Bryan, along with his pal Blake Shelton and Little Big Town. Crash My Playa definitely gets full marks for a scenic location, too. The festival in Mexico is all-inclusive and just feet away from the Caribbean Sea. The daytime also features pool parties and acoustic sets from acts like Randy Houser, Brothers Osborne and Dustin Lynch. It’s an all-in kind of vacation.
The Outlaw Country Cruise (Feb. 26-March 2)
Alright, technically it’s a cruise in addition to a festival, and technically it’s already sold out, but this one is too cool not to mention. Some of the best “outlaw country” artists around board the boat with you and party for four days. Acts include Blackberry Smoke, Steve Earle, Jessi Colter, Dale Watson and more. Expect this thing to kick off again in 2018, so don’t miss the boat when it does (pun intended).
Runaway Country Music Fest (March 17-19)
Runaway Country Music Fest in Kissimmee, Fla. offers something a lot of other festivals don’t: reserved seating. And Brad Paisley. With one of the bigger lineups of the year, Runaway Country Music Fest may just be the top country fest in Florida this year. And that’s not an easy feat to accomplish.
Tin Pan South (March 28 – April 1)
Tin Pan South is absolutely nothing like the other country festivals during the year, and that’s what makes it so special. This Nashville original pays homage to the songwriters, putting heavy focus on the craft of writing a great song. You’ll still see megastars — they’ll just be plucking away in a more subdued environment in venues all across the town. Plus, you’ll get to see the craftsmen behind a lot of country hits, both past and present (and even future). 2017 marks the 25th year of the festival.
Country Thunder (April, July, August)
The folks at Country Thunder figure if you can do it once, you can do it four times. They’re hosting four different festivals throughout North America from April through August. You can catch a Country Thunder festival in Arizona (April 6-9), Saskatoon (July 13-16), Wisconsin (July 20-23) and Alberta (Aug. 18-20). Suffice to say, the lineups feature a lot of country favorites (and a few newcomers, too). Check out more specifics for each one here.
Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Fest (April 24 – 29)
Chances are, if you’re a red dirt fan, you know about Larry Joe Taylor Fest. The legendary festival rocks for 6 days featuring everybody who is anybody in the Texas country and red dirt scene (and beyond). In its 29th year, LJT is the blueprint for a lot of modern festivals. The Stephenville, Texas festival also features a chili cook-off, which has a history of bringing out as much passion as the amazing yearly lineup.
Las Cruces Country Music Festival (April 28 – 30)
Though it’s a smaller festival (the music mostly takes place over two days), the Las Cruces Country Music Festival is one of the few put on by a city and done right. Now in its fifth year, the celebration grew steadily to this year’s respectable list of artists, including Kacey Musgraves, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Eli Young Band and more coming. It’s also super affordable at $60 for both days (and military discounts). For the folks in the El Paso/Las Cruces area, this nice little festival has something for every kind of country fan.
Stagecoach (April 28 – 30)
From the producers of Coachella comes Stagecoach, a Coachella-like event exclusively for country lovers. Be forewarned: Stagecoach is an expensive experience. But you get what you pay for, which is an expertly organized event stacked with country talent from multiple decades in a scenic California setting. This year’s headliners including Dierks Bentley, Shania Twain and Kenny Chesney, if that’s any indication of the clout Stagecoach has. But the best part is all the options outside the mainstream. Texas country, red dirt, alt country. It’s all there, from Randy Rogers to Jamey Johnson to Willie Nelson to Jerry Lee Lewis.
Suwannee River Jam (May 3 – 6)
Texans aren’t the only ones who love to party on the river. The Suwannee River Jam in Live Oak, Florida always brings out thousands of campers and music lovers to the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. More than 800 acres of camping sites make the Suwannee River jam an excellent opportunity to get out in nature and see some great acts. The 2017 lineup isn’t out yet, but based on past lineups it’ll likely include a few legacy artists alongside modern hitmakers.
Key West Songwriter’s Festival (May 10 – 14)
The Key West Songwriter’s Festival, now in its 22nd year, takes after Tin Pan South as a festival for lovers of the craft of songwriting, not just rockin’ tunes. The festival does have a few advantages over Tin Pan South, primarily that it’s more centralized and located in beautiful Key West (nothing against you, Nashville). The lineup has yet to be announced, but rest assured, if you’re into laid back vibes and the art of the song, this festival is for you.
Tree Town Music Festival (May 25 – 28)
Forest City, Iowa is ready to rock with four days of head-pounding country. Well, three days plus one day of Brett Michaels, if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s another great chance to see Alan Jackson on the road, along with Dwight Yoakam, Jason Aldean, Love & Theft and more. The festival also features a chance for “glamping,” which is exactly as it sounds — camping in luxury. Some say that’s not camping at all. Others can’t hear you over the music.
Lone Star Jam (May 27 – 28)
Though Larry Joe Taylor Fest is legendary in the great state of Texas, Lone Star Jam has climbed the ranks as one of the state’s most important events. Now in its 10th year (and second at the new location in South Austin), Lone Star Jam always promises 20 of the best Texas country and red dirt acts from the region. No news on headliners yet, but you can bet if they’re big in Texas country, they’re slated for a Lone Star Jam appearance.
CMA Music Fest (June 8 – 11)
In a lot of ways, CMA Music Fest is like Austin’s famed South by Southwest. Except it’s only music, only country and only for the fans. Oh, and the massive event is all one big fundraiser for music education. That’s right — artists play CMA Fest for free and all the proceeds go to the CMA Foundation, an organization that has so far donated more than $13.6 million to fund music education. The lineup isn’t out yet, but there’s a good chance the Nissan Stadium lineup is as packed as ever, and all the free concerts around town take pages and pages to list. It’s one heck of a party. If you can’t get in, they always televise the big performances and broadcast them at a later date.
Carolina Country Music Fest (June 8 – 11)
Now in its third year, Myrtle Beach’s biggest event features some must-see talent like Kenny Chesney. Similar to other destination music festivals, the Carolina Country Music Fest draws people from all over to its idyllic beaches. Already a major tourist spot, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina doesn’t need a music festival to bring people in. But it helps. The festival spans 18 acres, including the famed boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard areas. Bring your beach towel (and your wallet).
G Fest (June 15 – 17)
Muskogee, Oklama’s G Fest is another great opportunity for a smaller community to make something really special happen for residents and nearby folks. Of course, last year’s lineup of The Avett Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, Turnpike Troubadours, Old Crow Medicine Show and more was enough to merit a plane flight or road trip. Plus, the event always features tons of regional red dirt talent. The 2017 lineup isn’t out yet, but it’ll likely be a smash for this festival quickly growing into one of the coolest events in the state.
Country Jam (June 15 – 18)
Just outside of Grand Junction, Col., Country Jam presents a pretty great opportunity to see some beautiful nearby scenery. The surrounding red rock landscape does wonders for a music experience. Not to mention the more than 30 bands over 4 days, including 2017’s festival king Kenny Chesney.
Moondance Jammin’ Country Fest (June 23 – 24)
It’s one of the smaller festivals on the list, but Minnesota’s Moondance Jammin’ Country Fest still packs a lot of punch on its main stage for a reasonable ticket price. Plus, the festival commits an entire regional stage to the country acts of the area, which is an excellent way to make sure country music flourishes in markets like the upper midwest. This year’s main stage artists include Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Eric Paslay.
Country Stampede (June 23 – 25)
Country Stampede in Manhattan, Kansas is the only country festival so far this year to feature Chris Stapleton as its main headliner. That only should get you interested if you’re anywhere near Kansas. And if you’re into camping, the festival offers some pretty great options for putting up a tent and calling Tuttle Creek State Park home for a few days. Other performers include Thomas Rhett, Alan Jackson, William Michael Morgan and many more.
Country USA (June 20 – 24)
Oshkosh isn’t just a fun place to say — it’s a fun place to be during Country USA. The five day festival features a structured lineup that allows everybody to see all the main artists over more days, as opposed to cramming a bunch of artists into fewer days. Blake Shelton headline’s this year’s sprawling camp site jam, along with appearances by Rascall Flatts, Gary Allan and Florida Georgia Line.
Country Fest (June 21 – 25)
Another party in the upper midwest, Country Fest came about 30 years ago in Cadott, Wisconsin and hasn’t let down since. This year’s lineup features Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Alabama and many, many more. Billed as the largest 4-day music and camping experience of its kind (which is probably debatable at this point), Country Fest serves as one of the premier country music festivals in the region. Which isn’t easy, seeing how many country music festivals have had success there lately.
Hodag Country Festival (July 13 – 16)
Another Wisconsin festival with decades under its belt (four, to be exact), Hodag keeps the fun rolling in the upper midwest. Little Big Town, Billy Currington, Neal McCoy and more grace the stage at this festival. Similar to a few others in the area, Hodag likes to play it slow and steady, so you’ve always got a chance to see a great lineup without worrying about what else you may be missing.
Oregon Jamboree (Aug. 4 – 6)
Now in its 25th year, the Oregon Jamboree has something most other festivals don’t (besides the beautiful pacific northwest setting): Kenny Rogers. The Jamboree is a favorite among the locals. This year’s lineup includes Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and the aforementioned Rogers. Plus, it should make your heart warm to attend. The festival is a non-profit event benefiting economic and quality of life projects in Sweet Home, Oregon.
Willamette Country Music Festival (Aug. 17 – 20)
After all that, you still want more? Well Oregon delivers again. This time, the Willamette Country Music Festival offers a lineup not seen in any other festival yet, including Zac Brown Band and Keith Urban. For West Coasters who can’t make it to Indio in April (or who needed a few month break after it), Willamette Country Music Festival provides an excellent opportunity to see top talent in a gorgeous setting.