If you had a chance to go to a country music festival in 2017, consider yourself lucky. Some huge tours kicked off (and continued), and several new and returning festival helped spread country love across the continent.
But country music also endured the biggest tragedy of its history when a gunman opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The country community will mourn those lost and injured for years to come. But it will also honor them by forging on and creating fun, safe environments for music fans to come together and enjoy some great shows.
With that in mind, it's time to gear up and make plans for all the fun country music festivals 2018 has in store. Let's take a look at some of the highlights of the upcoming festival season.
Set in the ski town of Steamboat Springs, Colo., the MusicFest features an array of the best Texas country, red dirt and Americana bands around. The festival is now entering its 33rd year.
Luke Bryan's festival is back again. The four-day event features multiple sets by Luke Bryan, along with his friend Blake Shelton, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris and Brett Young. Crash My Playa is in a resort in Mexico and is all-inclusive, just feet away from the Caribbean Sea.
This festival is brand new and looks really promising. Located in Key West, the festival brings a lot of Americana and red dirt music all the way to the tip of Florida. That includes bands like Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Jinks, Pat Green, Shooter Jennings and more. It promises rocking shows at a brand new amphitheater and intimate acoustic sets in nearby bars.
If you're up for eleven days of music from performers like Reba McEntire and Brad Paisley, the Florida Strawberry Festival is for you. This one is a little different because you need to purchase tickets to see the headliners individually. But the most expensive ticket is $50, which is a steal, and you can see other acts like Charley Pride, Trace Adkins, Josh Turner, Cam and more for $20-25.
Runaway Country Music Fest in Kissimmee, Fla. has reserved seating and an eclectic lineup, from Florida Georgia Line to Ashley McBryde to Little Texas.
Artists for this Abilene, Texas festival aren't available yet, but last year featured acts like Lee Ann Womack and Cody Johnson. It seems like the perfect small town festival getaway for those out in West Texas. The eighth annual iteration also features a songwriting festival.
For those who like their country music with an edge, Tumbleweed in Kansas City is a modest gathering you should consider attending. The three-day festival, billed as an outlaw country festival, is entering its third year in 2018, and promises to build on a successful previous year. Expect a lineup of current and classic favorites from outlaw, Texas country, and red dirt.
In its 26th year, Tin Pan South remains one of the most unique and special events for country music fans the entire year. 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 playing in a more subdued environment in venues all across the town. Plus, you'll get to see the writers behind a lot of country hits and hits to be. Most of it is general admission/first-come, first-served.
Country Thunder keeps cooking with four different festivals throughout North America throughout April, July and August. You can catch them in Arizona (April 5-8), Saskatoon (July 12-15), Wisconsin (July 19-22) and Alberta (Aug. 17-19). The lineups features a mix of established country stars, newcomers and old favorites.
Tortuga is earning a name for itself as one of the best festivals around. The eclectic lineup features main stage folks like Keith Urban, Eric Church, William Michael Morgan and even rap and R&B artists Snoop Dogg and Shaggy.
This one is for all those Texas A&M Aggies out there. Chili Fest in nearby Sommerville, Texas is a bit of a legend in those parts. It's a red dirt and southern rock haven filled with young folks.
Larry Joe Taylor Fest is red dirt heaven. The legendary festival rocks for 6 days featuring everybody who is anybody in the Texas country and red dirt scene (and beyond). This is year 30, and LJT still feels as exciting as ever. The Stephenville, Texas festival also features a chili cook-off, which has a history of creating as much noise as the artists.
Coachella creators made Stagecoach, a Coachella-like event exclusively for country lovers. Stagecoach is an expensive experience, but one well worth it according to country fans everywhere. It's an expertly organized event stacked with country talent from multiple decades in a scenic California setting. Garth Brooks, Jason Isbell, Kenny Rogers, Midland, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Brice and many, many more? Yes, please.
The Key West Songwriter's Festival, now in its 23rd year, takes after Tin Pan South as a festival for lovers of songwriting, not just the full band experience. The festival does have a few advantages over Tin Pan South, primarily that it's more centralized and located in beautiful Key West. The lineup is always kind of a morphing affair, but thousands of visitors every year can't be wrong.
Forest City, Iowa is ready to go again, this time with acts like Alabama, Eddie Money, Brett Young and Charlie Daniels Band. The country music festival also features a chance for "glamping," which is exactly as it sounds -- camping in luxury. Some say that's not camping at all, while others can't hear you over the music.
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 11th year, Lone Star Jam always promises 20 of the best Texas country and red dirt acts from the region. Stay tuned for headliner information, which is notoriously later than a lot of other festivals.
CMA Music Fest is a massive event all for the purpose of raising money 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 donated tens of millions of dollars. The lineup comes out next year, but just expect it to be pretty much everybody, including the biggest names. You can also get away with seeing a lot of daytime shows for free. But if you can't get in, they always televise the big performances and broadcast them at a later date.
Get it? Like Woodstock? Artists are coming soon, but last year featured Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Brothers Osborne, which sounds pretty badass. This country music festival has been rocking Winsted, Minn. since 1994.
Now in its fourth year, Myrtle Beach's biggest event features some must-see talent like Zac Brown Band. Idyllic beaches are a big draw for this one. Already a major tourist spot, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina doesn't need a music festival to get people excited. But the festival spans 18 acres, including the famed boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard areas, which definitely helps. Bring extra sunscreen!
There's a rock festival and a country festival in back to back weekends. This year's country festival includes artists Luke Combs, Lee Brice, Cody Johnson, Diamond Rio and more. Not bad for the nearest town being a population of 96 people (Comstock, Neb.). But we hear the windmills really are something to see, too.
Founded in 2008, this massive music festival in Cambrose, AB, Canada features Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Alabama, Billy Ray Cyrus and more.
This scenic country music festival in Gorge, Wash. affectionately refers to its visitors as "Shedders." The lineup isn't out yet, but every year it also features fun events like line dancing lessons, foam parties, rides and more.
One of the best-kept secrets in music festivals, the Braun Brothers Reunion in Challis, Idaho started as just that -- a family reunion. Since then, the festival started by the Reckless Kelly frontmen grew into a full blown festival that still feels like a family get together. Past artists include Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, Jack Ingram and more.
The Willamette Country Music Festival offers both a great lineup and a gorgeous setting. For West Coasters who can't make it to to Stagecoach (or who need a break after it), this country music festival offers a few artists not down south, including Eric Church and Lady Antebellum.