Are you a festival enthusiast? If so, we’ll give you tips on five great festivals that rock the United States whenever they happen!
1. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival: A desert dream
Better known as “Coachella“, this is a giant event that happens in California and provides two weekends full of globally recognized musical attractions. Big hitters such as Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Calvin Harris and Travis Scott have all played the event. No wonder it’s one of the most famous festivals in the world.
The festival, which usually features a line-up of more than 150 names, takes place at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival, situated a mere 30-minute drive from Palm Springs.
So be warned: if you’re traveling from Los Angeles or Orange County, expect heavy traffic on festival days. The congestion is particularly bad around Cabazon and in the Banning and Beaumont areas along the 10 Freeway.
For festival-goers planning an overnight stay, it’s best to rent a car and stay in Palm Springs, since there is usually a shuttle service that takes you to the festival. Camping at the festival is also possible, with varied pricing depending on whether you bring a car or opt for a cabin.
If you’re flying into Los Angeles Airport, consider renting a car directly from there. This provides the opportunity to drive through LA, and perhaps even extend your journey to other exciting cities like San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego!
Ticket prices for the festival can vary greatly based on the category you select. Generally, they start around $420 USD and can go up to $1000 USD.
Some essential tips to enjoy the best of Coachella are: stay well hydrated, rest between shows, wear a bandana and cap to contain the sun and avoid leaving on monday because of the heavy traffic. Plan an extra day to enjoy the hotel pool and even visit some nice places in Palm Springs to return home after the rush.
2. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival: a camping adventure
The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which has been a staple in the U.S. since 2002, prides itself on its diverse range of musical genres. With acts spanning hip hop to jazz, country to reggae, and pop to electronic, there’s something for every music lover.
Considered one of the best festivals in the world, including being classified as one of the “50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll” by Rolling Stone magazine, Bonnaroo is undoubtedly a unique experience!
The event takes place at Great Stage Park, a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. For those driving, put the address in your GPS: 1560 New Bushy Branch Rd, Manchester TN 37355, but beware: when approaching, listen to the professional staff that will be on hand and the signs rather than the GPS.
The line-up for the 2023 edition features names like Kendrick Lamar, Lil Nas X, Foo Fighters and more. To check out the full selection of musical artists, visit the festival’s website. Its program usually starts on the 2nd Thursday of June and lasts for 4 days.
As with Coachella, it’s possible to stay overnight at Bonnaroo. The festival offers a variety of camping options, tents, cabins and space for trailers.
3. Lollapalooza: Rock the windy city
Lollapalooza is an alternative music festival that happens annually and in different countries. Predominantly, the festival offers a mix of alternative and indie rock, however genres such as heavy metal, punk rock, grunge and pop are also presented to the public.
Giants such as Amy Winehouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, The Cure, Rage Against the Machine, The Killers, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, Green Day and Lady Gaga have already made their mark (and history) at the event.
Conceived and created in 1991 by singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band, Lollapalooza was first held in 1997, and revived in 2003 in North America. In 2005, the festival was reformulated into its current format as a fixed event in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.
But it was in 2011 that Lollapalooza became international and traveled abroad, having its first edition in Santiago, Chile, and then its first time in Brazil, in São Paulo. Today, the festival is present in cities like Berlin (Germany), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Paris (France), Stockholm (Sweden) and many more.
In the 2023 edition, names such as Billie Eilish, Karol G, Kendrick Lamar, The 1975 and Lana Del Rey are part of the headliners team of the event that will take place in Chicago in August.
To get to the event, put the address in your GPS: 337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, USA. It’s very easy and quiet to get to Grant Park by car and the area has several parking lots available.
4. St. Patrick’s Day: A celebration of Irish heritage
You may be familiar with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, an Irish tradition that has made its way around the world. But have you ever heard of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade? It’s held annually in New York City, in the United States, and attracts more than 200 participants.
Historically, St. Patrick’s Day, from the Irish, “Lá le Pádraig”, is an annual festival celebrated on March 17, in honor of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, who died on this same date in 461 A.D. On this day, people dress in green and white and take to the streets to celebrate.
In New York, the event breaks away from the musical theme for a parade down Fifth Avenue, starting at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th Street.
The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York was made up of a group of ex Irish patriots with homesickness and Irish servicemen serving in the British Army stationed in the colonies in New York. This was a time when wearing green was a sign of Irish pride, but it was banned in Ireland. In that 1762 parade, a great New York movement was started.
5. The Great American Beer Festival: Cheers to craft brews
If you like St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll love the GABF, Great American Beer Festival, an event that as the name implies, features a plethora of beers for all tastes.
The festival has been held in Denver, Colorado, since 1982. Last year, in 2022, it completed 40 years of history and broke records by bringing together 500 breweries from 46 states, plus Washington, DC, with more than 2,000 different beers served to the public.
The festival is a great experience for beer lovers, but also for those who want to experiment. Flavors range from sweet, sour, light, dark, hoppy, funky and more. That is why the Great American Beer Festival is the premier beer competition in the United States, featuring the best examples of more than 100 beer styles.
Tickets for this year’s edition range from 75 USD to 199 USD and you can buy them on the event’s official website.
However lively the party is, remember: if you’re driving, don’t drink.
6. Mardi Gras: Revel in New Orleans’ Traditions
Mardi Gras is a historical and traditional celebration. Although today it’s a success in Alabama, United States, it’s believed to have been created in Rome, Italy, during the medieval period. The pagan festival was born with parades, performances, and lots of food. Its name comes from the time of year it was held: on Easter, before Ash Wednesday, which then later was nicknamed “Fat Tuesday”, the real meaning of Mardi Gras.
In 1703, French soldiers and settlers brought the celebration to the newly founded city of Mobile, Alabama, and only in 1837 did the first Mardi Gras street parade take place in New Orleans.
Currently it’s estimated that more than 850,000 people participate in the parades, parties, and other carnival events of the period. One of the great traditions of the event are the bead necklaces thrown during the party by those in the allegories.
If you want to follow this party, we recommend visiting the cities: Mobile (Alabama), New Orleans (Louisiana), Lake Charles (Louisiana), St. Louis (Missouri). If you go by car, you’ll have more freedom to get to know the parties in more than one city. We recommend the following itinerary:
From Mobile it’s 144 miles to New Orleans. From New Orleans it’s 206 miles to Lake Charles. Have a nice trip!
7. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: A Sky Full of Color
How about an amazing balloon performance in the sky? That (and more!) is what the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is offering!
During 9 days in October, the event brings together more than 700 balloons and an audience of more than 1 million people. This year, the celebration runs from October 7 through October 15, with tickets ranging from $15 USD to $2600 USD, according to the shows included and forms of accommodation in the space. Check out more information on the official website.
The first edition of the festival was held in 1972 and today it’s considered one of the largest international events in the United States. The landscape of the Sandia Mountains gives the final touch to an incredible scenario of great nature.
Something that is curious and reinforces the fame of the festival is that the balloons present various shapes, ranging from the most traditional to the shapes of flowers, pencils, clocks, clowns, castles, ice cream, beer cans, cakes, animals, and even Noah’s Ark.
For those going by car, each parking lot has a QR Code that will be assigned to your car, as well as a color, to make it easier to find after the event. When you are in your lot, scan the code and place a pin to mark your location. When you are ready to return to your vehicle, open the map and follow the directions back to where you parked. It’s that easy!
In addition, Balloon Fiesta offers shuttle services to the park with various schedules throughout the day. Boarding and drop-off is at the Horizon area, north of Alameda.
8. Taste of Chicago: Savor the Windy City’s Flavors
Who loves to eat a great traditional dish? Taste Of Chicago is Chicago’s largest food festival and one of the largest in the United States. This year the event will be held September 8-10, 2023 at Grant Park (Buckingham Fountain, 301 S. Columbus Dr.). The location is lakeside, which adds a very attractive backdrop. There are the best restaurants, food trucks and chefs in the area offering their best. In addition, musical performances take place during the period.
The tradition has been going on since the 1980s, taking advantage of the warmer temperatures of the season to deliver the greatest culinary diversity in the city, from hot dogs, pizzas, cheesecake, and appetizers from other nationalities.
If you are driving, the closest parking lots are: Grant Park North Garage (25 N. Michigan Ave.), Grant Park South Garage (325 S. Michigan Ave.) and Millennium Park Garage & Millennium Lakeside Garage (5 S. Columbus Dr.). Admission to the Taste Of Chicago is free, but parking is paid. You can pay directly on site or pre-pay via the website.
9. Art Basel Miami Beach: A Global Art Extravaganza
Getting deeper into the universe of art, Art Basel is one of the most renowned events in the world. In 2022, the Miami edition celebrated 20 years since its creation in 2002, which was to take place a year earlier but was cancelled because of the attack on the Twin Towers. Even with a troubled beginning, success has always accompanied Art Basel Miami Beach’s trajectory.
If you like to check out exclusive, original, and even historic works, this event brings together the world’s leading galleries from five continents with masters of modern and contemporary art, as well as the new generation of emerging stars.
It all started with collector Norman Braman and his wife, who used to attend Art Basel in Switzerland in the 1980s. Soon Braman became close to Lorenzo Rudolf, the show’s director, and Sam Keller, head of communications. This friendship led to the show traveling to the United States. Currently, besides Miami, there are also editions of Art Basel in Paris and Hong Kong.
If you are driving, put in your GPS: Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139). It’s very easy to get there!
The event usually happens in December in annual editions and tickets range from 55 USD to 2200 USD, according to the category chosen. Enjoy!
Tips for renting a car and enjoy the festivals in the USA
Renting a car in the United States can indeed be one of the highlights of your trip. The available models often include popular choices such as the iconic convertibles, adding a special touch to your journey. Furthermore, having a car at your disposal allows you to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, some of which can only be accessed by private transport. This can truly enhance your American adventure, providing opportunities to uncover more secluded and exclusive locales.
Therefore, renting a vehicle is the best way to explore the United States. On Rentcars website, you can compare more than 200 car rental companies in the world, including the best ones in the United States and compare benefits and prices. With promotions throughout the year, Rentcars can work with discounts up to 30%OFF! Make your reservation and enjoy your trip!
In addition, renting with renowned car rental companies in the region, such as Enterprise, Alamo and National, easily found on the Rentcars website and covering the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Coast, is another way to keep you safe on a trip abroad.
If you are interested in more content about road trips, check out some of our articles on the subject in the United States.