Six Country Music Festivals to Add to Your Travel Calendar
Music festivals have seen a steady surge in popularity over the past several years, with household names like Coachella and Bonnaroo tightening their grip on popular American culture while new multi-day music parties pop up every year. Already, 2015 seems to be the year of the country festival as event producers rush to meet the demand for hot-selling country artists in a way that's increasingly inventive. From beachside vacations to downtown cityscapes, it's never been easier to spend a weekend outside soaking up Southern-fried tunes (without skimping on showers).
Tortuga Music Festival: April 10-12 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida One of the first country festivals of the year, Tortuga Festival combines the beach vacation you're already daydreaming about and pairs it with the soundtrack you'd probably have bumping through your speakers—only at Tortuga, the feel-good country tunes you're swigging to will be live. Featuring headliners Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band along with up-and-comers Sam Hunt and Frankie Ballard, the concerts take place right on the beach. $165, tortugamusicfestival.com
Stagecoach Festival: April 24-26 - Indio, California Arguably the most well-known country music festival, Stagecoach is run by Goldenvoice, the company behind mammoth two-weekend fest Coachella held at the same site in Indio. Headliners like Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert may draw eyes for their arsenal of radio-friendly hits, but it's the fest's attention to less glitzy acts like Sturgill Simpson that will keep classic country music lovers coming back to the desert for this fest year after year. $269, stagecoachfestival.com
Shaky Boots: May 16-17 - Atlanta, Georgia The inaugural Shaky Boots Festival packs a hell of a lot of country music into two days, counting Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts among its ranks as headliners and fills in the lineup with appearances from Dwight Yoakam, Old Crow Medicine Show and Devil Makes Three. We're holding out hope for some on-stage collaborations at this one, particularly between Americana Music Award winner Jason Isbell and wife Amanda Shires, both of whom grace the lineup for Friday. $169, shakyboots.com
Windy City Lake Shake: June 19-21 - Chicago, Illinois Set on the lakefront of Downtown Chicago, this is another first-year fest that may look like the others at first glance. But beyond the headliners are several rarities in the lineup, including a few must-see leading ladies—Raelynn, Ashley Monroe and Mickey Guyton—who aren't playing nearly as many big festivals. $199.50, LakeShakeFestival.com
Farmborough: June 26-28 - New York, New York Touted as New York City's first country music festival, Farmborough is another new name on the festival circuit this year. Luke Bryan is joined by Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley as headliners, but what's most interesting about this fest is the Next from Nashville stage, a chance to give up-and-comers in the genre a shot at the spotlight in the Big Apple. $225, FarmboroughFestival.com
WE Fest: August 6-8 - Detroit Lakes, Minnesota WE Fest is one of the longest-running country music events of its size, having been founded in 1983. The site, Soo Ranch, is a natural amphitheater with enough camping options for the droves of attendees, complete modern amenities (like, y'know, running water) that make for a more comfortable way of roughing it. Distinctive acts include Jake Owen and Hank Williams, Jr. alongside fest champs Miranda and Blake. $119, WEFest.com
Dacey Orr is a music and culture writer based in Atlanta. You can follow her on Twitter.