Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
For those of us who can’t get enough of live music, often nothing can compare to a festival. Whether it’s a major event set on festival grounds or held at venues across a city, it’s exhilarating cramming as many shows as possible into just a matter of days as you jam to your favorite acts and inevitably discover a handful of new favorites, too. With live music largely back to what it was before the pandemic, just about every music festival has made its grand return, and even several new ones have launched. Below, Thrillist is rounding up a handful of music festivals and their lineups that are worth knowing about in 2023—ranging from major fests and regional favorites to ones that just recently launched and special, smaller-scale events. While you won’t find every single fest lineup here, you’re definitely bound to find some of the coolest ones that you’ll want to snag a pass for and travel to.
When: Friday, February 10-Tuesday, February 14
Where: Baltimore, Maryland
What to know: Indie-rock favorite Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail came up in her hometown of Baltimore before breaking out in 2018 with her debut album Lush. While she may not be based in Maryland any more, the city holds a special place in her heart. Just last year, she toured with fellow Baltimore acts JPEGMAFIA and Turnstile, and this year she’s returning for a special event called Valentine Fest, named after her 2021 album Valentine, and held over Valentine’s Day weekend. Every show is to be held at Ottobar, the venue where she played her first gig as Snail Mail, and her band is set to play every night. The rest of the lineup is a secret—although clues on the festival poster might point to names like Mac DeMarco, Mannequin Pussy, Soccer Mommy—but no doubt it’ll be a very indie, heartwarming Valentine’s weekend.
When: Monday, February 20-Sunday, February 26
Where: San Francisco, California
What to know: Noise Pop has come a long way from its 1993 origins in which it hosted “5 bands for $5” shows, going on to feature a wide variety of national acts over the years and helping to launch local acts’ careers. This year marks its 30th anniversary, though, and the San Francisco institution is making sure to celebrate. As usual, shows will be hosted at venues across the city—with some reunion shows and larger acts like FIDLAR playing their most intimate gigs in years. For locals, it’s an opportunity to come out and support their lively scene, and for visitors, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in everything in the arts that the Bay Area has to offer in just one week.
Headliners:Yo La Tengo, Boy Harsher, Duster
Other acts to check out: FIDLAR, No Vacation, NoSo, White Reaper
When: Wednesday, March 22-Sunday, March 26
Where: Boise, Idaho
What to know: Go to Treefort and you’re sure to fall in love with the fest and its home city. The community-run festival is all about bringing attention to both rising artists and the underrated arts hub that is Boise, inviting 500+ local, national, and international acts to perform at venues and pop-up stages around the mountain town. Beyond its music component, Treefort is filled out with a variety of “forts,” from food and wellness to drag and comedy, and so many others, making it an event where anybody can feel at home. Last year, Treefort celebrated its 10th anniversary, but the 2023 fest will be bigger than ever, as they’re moving the main stage to a new venue to accommodate its growth. Seriously, if you’re a music fan who prides themselves on knowing what’s great in new music, Treefort is the place for you.
Headliners:Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Leikeli47, Margo Price, Surf Curse, Cautious Clay, Ani Defranco, Dinosaur Jr., Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Other acts to check out: Big Joanie, illuminati hotties, Tanukichan, Whitney, Yaya Bey
When: Wednesday, May 10-Saturday, May 13
Where: Brighton Beach, England
What to know: If you’re curious about who the best new bands are in the UK, Europe, and beyond, you may just want to make a trip across the pond to the Great Escape. Considered the UK’s version of SXSW, this multi-venue festival and music conference features showcases of 500+ emerging artists of all genres. It also includes headlining spotlight shows and secret gigs across the quaint seaside city of Brighton. It’s considered a favorite festival among many Brits and one of the very best for discovery, so if you consider yourself a tastemaker, it could very well be worth a trip.
Spotlight shows: Arlo Parks, Maisie Peters
Other acts to check out: Been Stellar, Blondshell, Grove
When: Friday, May 12-Sunday, May 14
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
What to know: Kilby Block Party is steadily becoming one of the coolest, fastest-growing festivals in the US. This will be its fourth iteration, but it’s scheduled to be its biggest fest yet. Originally launched as a block party in 2019 to honor Salt Lake City’s beloved longest-running all-ages venue Kilby Court, it’s since expanded to multiple days and new venues, with 2023 being its first year at the Utah State Fairpark. It’s not just that it’s one of the largest live music events in Salt Lake City that makes it stand out: It’s all about bringing attention to the city’s thriving arts scene, with several local acts on the bill, as well as a really cool, curated lineup overall.
Headliners: The Strokes, Pavement, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Other acts to check out: Ethel Cain, Grace Ives, Indigo De Souza, Momma
When: Friday, May 19-Sunday, May 21
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
What to know: As always, if your kind of music festival is one that’s a giant beach party bash—as in roller skating by the sea, volleyball in the sand, and taking a dip at your leisure kind of vibes—just as much as it is a music fest, then Hangout Festival is for you. The pop-centric event returns this spring for another sunshine-filled weekend to remember. This year notably brings together a genre-spanning group of headliners that should make everyone happy. It notably includes SZA, who released one of the best albums of 2022 with SOS and is making Hangout one of her only southern headlining stops of the year.
Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, SZA, Calvin Harris, Paramore
Other acts to check out: Sabrina Carpenter, Thundercat, Tove Lo
When: Saturday, May 27-Sunday, May 28
Where: Atlantic City, New Jersey
What to know: The ’00s pop punk and emo revival has been going strong in the past couple of years, and it looks like 2023 will be no different. Adjacent Festival is an all-new event that’s going down in New Jersey, where dozens of MySpace bands and pop-punk purveyors launched their careers in the aughts. The lineup is an exciting mix of classic genre bands making their comebacks in 2023, like blink-182 and Paramore, as well as newer acts who are making the scene what it is today. Taking place on the Atlantic City boardwalk, it’s sure to be a great (and very emo) east coast summer kick-off.
Headliners: blink-182, Paramore
Other acts to check out: Japanese Breakfast, Mannequin Pussy, Slaughter Beach, Dog
When: Thursday, June 1-Saturday, June 3 / Thursday, June 8-Saturday, June 10
Where: Barcelona, Spain / Madrid, Spain
What to know: Leave it to Primavera Sound to consistently curate one of the best lineups in the global festival circuit. As always, the massive event, which helms several versions across the globe, kicks off in its homebase of Barcelona, followed by Madrid the following weekend with the same lineup. The biggest names across all genres and standout up-and-comers fill out the bill alongside several particularly exciting headlining sets, like Spain’s own Rosalía, Kendrick Lamar, and a fully reunited Blur. Primavera Sound Porto in Portugal goes down June 7-10 with a similar, yet pared-down lineup, and then it’ll make its way to the Americas with a TBA lineup later this year. Regardless, there’s no dream festival we’d rather fly across the world to than Primavera’s big weekends.
Headliners:Pet Shop Boys, Blur, Halsey, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, Rosalía, Calvin Harris
Other acts to check out:Alex G, Alvvays, Isabella Lovestory, Kelela, Nation of Language
When: Friday, July 7-Saturday, July 8
Where: Des Moines, Iowa
What to know: Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, you might not necessarily consider Des Moines as one of the sexiest destinations, but no doubt it’s an underappreciated city. That’s partially because of its thriving arts community, which this festival is all about. Launched in 2008, 80/35 is an event organized by and in support of the non-profit Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, which aims to amplify and diversify the city’s music scene. It’s grown a great deal since then, bringing in huge acts and making a triumphant return in 2022 after taking a few years off. In 2023, it continues to solidify itself as one of the most exciting events in Des Moines with an eclectic lineup, spanning from indie to rap. Featuring a handful of free shows from local acts and tickets only required for the main stages, it’s certainly a reason to make a trip to Iowa and see what their arts community has to offer.
Headliners:The War On Drugs, Big Boi
Other acts to check out:Disq, Gustaf, Sudan Archives
When: Saturday, October 21
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
What to know: You may remember in early 2022 when the new pop-punk nostalgia festival When We Were Young was announced and it just about broke the internet—selling out immediately and subsequently expanding into multiple days to accommodate the demand. Well, because round one was a success (despite one of its dates being canceled due to high winds), the festival is coming back for another, just-as-emo iteration. After all, it was never a phase!
Headliners: blink-182, Green Day
Other acts to check out: Beach Bunny, Joyce Manor, Michelle Branch, Turnover
When: October TBA
Where: Miami, Florida
What to know: III Points should definitely be on your radar if it isn’t already. 2023 will be its seventh iteration, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most eclectic events held in Miami—and Miami certainly hosts a lot of festivals. The lineup tends to favor genre-defying artists and the trendiest names in electronic—last year, for example, was toplined by LCD Soundsystem and Rosalía. Held in Wynwood, Miami’s arts and entertainment district, the event also prides itself on bringing the visual art scene into the festival and developing immersive stages and lights displays.
Sadie Bell is a contributor to Thrillist.