8 EDM Music Festivals in the US That You Don't Dare Miss!
Festivals are ubiquitous with all genres of music and all styles of dancing these days. From the punk and skate culture of Vans Off The Wall, to the EDM and shuffling of Ultra, there’s a festival out there for just but everybody. As Americans, we’re pretty lucky to have a wide array of festivals and locations to suit all festival goers’ needs—in this article, we’ll be looking at the “must attend” events for cutting shapes and raving the weekend away!
A Brief History of Festivals
You’d be forgiven for thinking that music festivals are a modern-era phenomena but the earliest known examples of likeminded music fans gathering together actually date back to Ancient Egypt—over 6,000 years ago! Of course, there wasn’t much shuffling in Cleopatra’s day and you wouldn’t have seen Tutankhamun head banging! However, festivals have come a long way since the ritualistic gatherings of the old.
The 1950s and 1960s saw the rise of events a little closer to those which we see today. The Newport Jazz and Folk and Montery Pop Festivals helped to pave the way for what is probably the most well-known music festival to ever be held: Woodstock. In fact, many would consider Woodstock to be the biggest event to happen in the world of music as a whole—thanks in no small part to half a million peaceful attendees!
Woodstock overcame many issues, including a lack of venue until a farmer stepped in and offered his fields for the event, difficulties in finding big name talent that would attend an event organized by the previously untested organizers, and local public outrage at a three-day festival being held in their backyards.
Despite all of this, the legendary festival happened and was a phenomenal success—and catapulted the music festival format into popular culture!
The Festivals of Today
Today’s music festivals are a little different than the likes of Woodstock. While many feature a broad range of artists from different genres, there’s a whole host of events which cater to specific musical styles and various subcultures.
Of course, we’re interested in the festivals that let us cut loose and shuffle—the events that well and truly release attendees from the bonds of work and family life and into a realm of music and movement. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the must-attend EDM, house, and techno festivals the United States has to offer—whether you’re an avid dancer or you just want a fun weekend away, you’d have to be crazy to miss these!
#8 Desert Hearts Spring
Ever wanted to experience the best house and techno music available right now while cutting shapes in the desert? You’re in luck! Desert Hearts gives you the opportunity to do all of that and more. Christopher Kristoff, DJ Mikey Lion, DJ Lee Reynolds, and DJs Marbs and Porkchop came together to create the event in order to (in their words) celebrate House, Techno, and Love.
Whether you’re an avid festival goer with years of experience, or you’re looking for something new, Desert Hearts may be exactly what you’re looking for. In fact, 2015’s event was ranked in the top 15 EDM festivals in the world—and number 1 in the United States—by Fest 300.
Of course, being held in the desert, there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning on going:
- Bring plenty of water and watch out for Dehydration
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, and hats are advised
- Cool clothes for during the day
- Despite the intense heat of the desert days, nightfall can bring with it quite the chill. Remember to pack some warmer clothes for the evenings, and a well-insulated sleeping bag, too
- The nearest ATM is around 40 km away and the entire event is cash only—bring enough cash to last you, or have a contingency plan in place for your funds!
With all of that in mind, let’s have a proper overview of the Desert Hearts festival—so that you can know before you go!
- Where? Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Southern California
- When? Typically, late March, early April. Festival is April 1-4th, 2016.
- Who? 2016’s line-up includes top EDM acts such as M.A.N.D.Y, Audiofly, Blond:ish, Atish, and Justin Jay. Furthermore, there’ll be 30 or more acts scheduled on top of these!
#7 Time Warp US
Time Warp is a European phenomenon, originating in Ludwigshafen, Germany and spreading across Germany and then the rest of the Euro-zone in the years since. 2014 saw the first Time Warp that was held in the United States and it was a huge success, so it looks like it may be staying for a while to come!
Time Warp US was held at the 39th Street Pier, Brooklyn, New York City. Although the location and lineup for 2016 have yet to be announced and the tickets are unavailable as of yet we’d say there’s a good chance that you can expect much of the same: lasers, smoke, and two-days of the highest quality Electronic Dance Music!
What differentiates Time Warp to their competitors is the overall goal of the German event organizers, Cosmopop, as they aim to draw in an older, more mature crowd to share in their love of the rave. If that scene sounds like your kind of thing, then here’s an overview to whet your appetite some more!
- Where? 39th Street Pier, in Brooklyn has played home to Time Warp US since its inception and although nothing has been confirmed, we’d imagine this won’t change in the near future
- When? Time Warp events are typically held towards the latter half of the year, so you can expect the 2-day festival to next be held between October and December 2016
- Who? While the lineup for 2016 has yet to be announced, 2015 saw acts such as Black Coffee, Monkey Safari, Ricardo Villalobos, Vanjee, Apollonia, Ms. Mada, and many more ripping the decks
#6 What the Festival
What the Festival has been dubbed a “summer camp for adults” and it is not difficult to see why! Nestled amongst Oregon woodland, What the Festival has a range of intricacies that separate it from the crowd—like a giant, inflatable pool so that ravers can make a splash or two! In a world where festivals have begun to look very similar to one another, What the Festival’s attempts to be different have helped to establish it as a major contender. Despite its small size, it has been listed in the top 5 music festivals in the States, with some publications even claiming that attending What the Festival could change your life!
Like so many festivals these days, you don’t have to rough it at What the Festival—if tents just aren’t your thing, try booking a ticket to What The Festival’s Boutique Camp and see how the other half live!
- Where? What the Festival is held not far from Portland, at Dufur Valley
- When? The event will be held from Thursday June 16th through Monday June 20th 2016, although Thursday will be open to “glampers” and those who pay for early entrance only
- Who? What the Festival 2016 is set to play host to over 45 class acts, including Bonobo, Tourist, Lido, Hippie Sabotage, Octaban, and many more
#5 Electric Zoo
Electric Zoo is perhaps one of the most notorious and popular events on the American EDM circuit. Founded in 2009, Electric Zoo has seen many transformations and rebranding although it has always kept its zoo-centric theme. In less than a decade, Electric Zoo has grown from strength to strength each year—seeing over 80,000 attendees in 2015. Unsurprisingly, New York’s premier EDM festival is in high-demand; presale tickets for 2016 have already sold out, forcing the organizers to open up a second round of presales.
- Where? On the East River, between Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx, you’ll find Randall’s Island Park—this is the venue of choice for Electric Zoo 2016
- When? Electric Zoo: Wild Island 2016 will be held Labor Day weekend, opening Friday September 2nd and running through Sunday September 4th
- Who? The organizers are keeping the lineup for EZ: Wild Island 2016 fairly close to their chest at the moment but you can be certain that an event with the pedigree of Electric Zoo will have some amazing acts both headlining and supporting throughout the weekend. 2015 saw the Chemical Brothers, Zeds Dead, Adventure Club, and many more sending the fans into a frenzy and we’d expect it to be much the same this time!
#4 Mysteryland USA
Mysteryland is the world’s longest-running electronic dance music festival, originating in 1993. While many festivals tend to focus on the music, Mysteryland is different. It focuses on the attendees and their style, their culture, and even their art—of course, the oldest EDM festival in the world also plays host to some killer acts, too!
Whether you want to rough it on the sacred campsites that once hosted Woodstock, arrive and rave in Mysteryland’s Easy Tents, or go glamping in the Bird’s Nest; there’s no shortage of accommodation when you’re attending Mysteryland.
- Where? Mysteryland is set on the grounds of the original 1969 Woodstock and as such, is known as the “Holy Ground.”
- When? Mysteryland takes place during Memorial Day weekend, running Friday June 10th through Monday June 13th
- Who? The 2016 Mysteryland weekend will be headlined by Odesza, Skrillex, and Bassnectar with support coming from Claptone, The Chainsmokers, Young Thug, Claude Vonstroke, and over 25 more artists!
#3 Electric Daisy Carnival
EDC is not a festival, it is a whole host of electronic dance music events organized by Insomniac. This year, there are 5 Electric Daisy Carnivals planned with 2 being hosted in the US (New York and Las Vegas).
Thanks to the popularity and sheer size of the Electric Daisy Carnivals, Insomniac have the ability to pull in some of the biggest names in Electronic music for every single event that they organize—regardless of how many events they are holding in a year! Their equipment and production quality is unbelievably good too (Fest300 even described the festival as having “enough lights to outshine the Vegas strip and enough amplified bass to register on the richter scale!”) meaning that you do not want to miss EDC if you can help it!
- Where? This year, two EDC events are planned Stateside—one in New York, and one in Las Vegas
- When? EDC New York 2016 will happen May 14th-May 15th, with EDC Las Vegas occurring June 17th-June 19th
- Who? EDC New York will play host to some fantastic acts, including Green Velvet, Markus Schulz, Lost Kings, Fury & MC Dino, and many more. Meanwhile, EDC Las Vegas’ stage will welcome Andrew Rayel, Dr. Fresch, Shaun Frank, Tritonal, Lost Kings, and lots more.
#2 Electric Forest
Electric Forest is Michigan’s answer to EDM festivals—and what an amazing event it truly is! Nestled in what we are sure were once quaint woodlands, some of the biggest names in electronic music bring the trees to life and make the earth shake inside the Electric Forest.
Electric Forest is quite unusual as far as attendees’ accommodation choices go. There’s glamping, and then there’s the Electric Forest way—RVs, log cabins, and even suites are all available, depending on how much you want to spend and how you prefer to experience your festivals!
- Where? The Electric Forest is hidden away in Rothbury, MI although it is easily accessible by road
- When? Electric Forest festival is set to run through June 23rd-June 26th 2016
- Who? The String Cheese Incident, Major Lazer, Bassnectar, The Disco Biscuits, Adventure Club, Duke Dumont, are just some of the main players at Electric Forest 2016—there’s another fifty+ acts that we haven’t got room to list!
#1 Ultra Music Festival
Ultra by name, ultra by nature—originating in 1999 as a one-day event and growing to become a worldwide EDM sensation, Ultra Music Festival is the ultimate in house, techno, and dance festivities. Hosted at Downtown Miami’s world famous Bayfront Park, Ultra sees upwards of 70,000 dance music fans per day, listening to acts across 8 stages.
This year’s lineup is particularly impressive, even by Ultra’s standards! Special guests will include LEXZ Pryde, Armin van Buuren, and Avicii. If there is one event that all EDM fans and dancers should be attending, Ultra Music Festival is it. It is the culmination of years of electronic evolution and dance innovation and many believe it to be the highlight of the EDM calendar!
- Where? Ultra Music Festival was born in South Beach, Miami and despite going global, has stayed true to its roots and is now hosted at Bayfront Park, Miami
- When? Ultra Music Festival is always scheduled for the end of March, with 2016 being no exception. Dates are set for the 18th, 19th, and 20th of March
- Who? Every single year, Ultra brings in the best of the best and ensures that all EDM subcultures are catered to. 2016’s highlights will include Avicii, LEXA Pryde, Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, The Prodigy, and Knife Party—and that is barely scratching the surface!
Get Ready for the Time of Your Life
People come from around the world to attend the enormous music festivals held in the United States, which is a testament to the organizers, the acts, and the American scene itself. If you have the spare time and live within a reasonable distance of one of the festivals that we have listed, then we’d definitely suggest that you pay a visit—the EDM festival experience is out of this world!
Whether you’ve already bought tickets to your festival or choice, or this article has got you drooling for the rave scene at one of the eight we listed, it is important to know what to expect before you turn up to a music festival (of any size). Because of this, we have put together a ‘Festival Goers’ guide to make your experience as close to perfect as possible—we’ll be releasing it exclusively on our blog soon, so keep your eyes peeled!