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North America

Top 10 Festivals of 2019

Photo by Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Each year The Travel Addict travels to and photographs over 20 music festivals across North America. This year we ranked our favorites in a Top 10 countdown. Music festivals can be an awesome way to combine a love of travel with your favorite music. There are so many music festivals across America you can find something for every type of music lover.

Here are my top favorites this year.

10.  Louder than Life– Louisville, Kentucky

The music and food and drink festival revolve around good bourbon and metal and rock, as it should since it took place in Louisville, Kentucky on September 27-29. Headliners included Guns N’ Roses, Slipknot, Disturbed. I actually shed a tear and got emotional when I saw Guns N’ Roses, it was my first time seeing them live and playing anthems such as “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Numerous food vendors served everything from the barbeque, creole, burgers along with desserts such as Funnel Cake Fantasy, Gelato Gilberto and many more. Louder Than Life 2020 will take place on September 18-20.

9. Austin City Limits– Austin, Texas

The festival would normally score higher with the trifecta of female performers such as Lizzo, Cardi B, and Kacey Musgraves but the scorching temperatures of Weekend One made it more difficult than usual. Shade, great friends and music were found as usual at the BMI stage. Guns N’ Roses also made their appearance as a headliner at this festival as well accompanied by other heavy hitters, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, The Cure, Billie Eilish, Robyn and more. The 2020 ACL installment will take place over two weekends on October 2-4 and October 9-11.

8. Lollapalooza– Chicago, Illinois

One of the largest and well-known festivals in the US, Lollapalooza boasted a variety of artists spanning many genres. Very few music festivals take place in the middle of a major city, but Lollapalooza is in the heart of downtown Chicago. This makes logistics easy with access from trains and hotels and lodging options within walking distance.

Headliners such as Ariana Grande, Twenty Pilots, Childish Gambino, and The Strokes played in Grant Park in Chicago over the summer on August 1-4. J Balvin became the first Latino artist to headline the massive festival Lollapalooza has a global reach with 2020 dates on March 27-29 in Argentina and July 30-August 2 in Chicago.

7.Festival dete de Quebec– Quebec City, Canada

It might be the most notable festival in Canada, as it’s the country’s largest outdoor music event but many Americans haven’t discovered this hidden gem. Festival dete de Quebec is 11 days of a variety of musical performances from July 4-14 in downtown Quebec.  From old school, rock acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd and metal band Slipknot, to electric artist Diplo and pop icon Mariah Carey all headlined a date of this year’s festival. This event attracts over 300,000 people and an all-inclusive pass for 11 days is just $105, which may be the best festival bargain on the planet.

The festival is also located in the heart of one of North America’s most picturesque cities. Locals are some of the friendliest festival patrons around and welcome visitors from all over the world. The 2020 event will take place from July 9-19 this year.

6. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival– New Orleans, Louisiana

The 50th year of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival spanned eight days over two weekends, the first from April 25-28 and May 2-5. Even with the heartbreaking Rolling Stones cancellation, the festival was filled with a diverse line-up boasting legendary acts Earth, Wind & Fire, Van Morrison, Al Green, Bonnie Raitt, and Alanis Morissette, along with pop artist Katy Perry, J Balvin, rapper Logic, soul artist Leon Bridges and many more.

The festival gets extra points because of the local New Orleans food vendor options. You can watch iconic artists and dine on beignets from Café Du Monde and my all-time favorite festival food Prejean’s famous crawfish enchiladas. This year’s festival goes from April 23-May 3.

5. BottleRock Napa Valley– Napa, California

I love BottleRock Festival because it’s where the culinary and music world merge. This year’s festival took place on May 24-26 at the Napa Valley Expo in California.

On the culinary stage where celebrity chefs cook with rock stars each year, Alice Cooper brought the theatrics and teamed up with “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern he tried (and failed) to break the world record for the number of rubber chickens tossed in the air at the same time. This year some special sports stars also got in on the cooking action. Ken Griffey Jr. cooked with Graham Elliot and Jerry Rice made an appearance with Trisha Yearwood in the Williams Sonoma kitchen.

BottleRock 2020 is set to blend culinary, music and entertainment worlds again from May 22-24. Headliners include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks and Dave Matthews Band.

4. Coachella– Indio, California

Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala headlined one of the most well-known festivals of the year Coachella, over two weekends April 12-14 and April 19-21. Other performances included Kacey Musgraves, Lizzo, a DJ set by Idris Elba and many others. The highlight of this year’s festival was a surprise appearance by Kanye West during Kid Cudi’s set as well as attendees getting to see a new spiritual side of Kanye at his Sunday Service on Easter Sunday morning which blew my mind with a full orchestra and 100 person choir.

Festivalgoers were offered a variety of cuisines from all over the country. A pop-up restaurant was also an option as well as ordering food and drinks ahead of time with Postmates pickup.  From a giant Connect Four, DIY art studio to pie eating contests and dance parties. Coachella offers much more than just a music experience.

Next year Coachella will be taking place on the weekends of April 10-12 and April 17-19 with Rage Against the Machine scheduled as a headliner.

3. Sonic Temple– Columbus Ohio

The inaugural Sonic Temple music and arts festival can be looked at as a replacement for the Rock on the Range festival, which came to an end last year. The three-day festival took place on May 17-19 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus Ohio. The line-up was led by Foo Fighters, System of a Down and Disturbed.

A memorable performance was watching Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters rock out in the rain. Other performers included British act Bring Me the Horizon, punk rock veteran Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, French metal outfit Gojira and dozens of other bands. Metallica, Slipknot, Bring Me the Horizon, Evanescence and Deftones are already slated to headline next year’s festival two nights that will take place from May 15-17.

2. Essence– New Orleans, Louisiana

Essence Festival celebrated 25 years of culture in 2019. It’s one of the few festivals that covers music, fashion, beauty, film, television and politics. The four-day festival was jam-packed with day and night activities. Speakers included First Lady Michelle Obama, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar along with notable names in entertainment, Pharrell and Tyler Perry at the Ernest N. Morial convention center. Democratic candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg flocked to the festival as well to present their ideas as they started their presidential bids for 2020.    

At night the Superdome main stage was hosted by comedian and television host Loni Love. Incredible veterans in Hip-Hop and R&B such as Missy Elliot, Mary J. Blige, Nas and newer generation of artists Big Freedia, H.E.R., Teyana Taylor and numerous others. Essence Festival is slated to take place from July 1-5.

1. Bonnaroo– Manchester, Tennessee

The festival that took the cake this year was Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee on June 11-14. Rapper Cardi B stole the entire weekend with her wild and fun performance. Other notable acts included Post Malone, Solange and Grand Ole Opry featuring special guests, The Lumineers and two sets by Phish. Campground Plazas which offered shade, free Wifi, charging and mist stations as well as medical and information posts and restrooms.

There were also non-music activities such as Yoga-roo, Soberoo for festival go-ers who were looking for a substance-free music experience. It is the only music festival with a code of ethics to “spread positivity” and it is just an overall chill fun experience for all fans that come from all over the country to experience the magic of Bonnaroo. This year Bonnaroo will take place on June 11-14 with diverse headliners such as Lizzo and Tool.

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