Music festivals are a seminal moment in any person’s life: like learning how to shave, drinking a beer with dad, or being your dad’s sober driver. Though, some may think that Oxford is the furthest place from anything as extravagant as a music festival, actual residents know that Oxford is a geographic anomaly, being 6 hours from Memphis, Nashville, and Narnia among others. So we’ve handpicked a stellar list of the best festivals in the Southern United States, with a little info on each so you can make an educated guess on how to spend that money burning a hole in your pocket.
Bonnaroo (June 11-14)
Headliners: Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, DEADMAU5, Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Alabama Shakes, Bassnectar, Childish Gambino, Slayer, Tears for Fears, Chris Hardwick, and Tove-Lo.
Once a year the sleepy town of Manchester, TN transforms into “The Southern Woodstock on Molly”. This isn’t just a fantastic experience of sounds, this festival also boasts a Comedy Stage, 700+ acre Glowing “Grove,” Silent Disco, and something called a Christmas Club Barn. It’s understandable why tickets range from $350 for General Admission to over $1500 for VIP, Luckily there are group and pair deals so round up a group of friends to go camping with Billy Joel and remember to bring enough Gatorade because you’ll need it. Seriously, you can’t say you went to college in the South unless you went to Bonna.
TomorrowWorld! (September 25-27)
Headliners: Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, David Guetta, Afrojack, Adventure Club, Flux Pavilion and many more!
Imagine Alice in Wonderland coming to life, acid and all, and then add in the symphonies of EDM Kings like Guetta and Adventure Club for a 3-day bender. That’s TomorrowWorld! This mecca of drug addled hipsters is erected outside Atlanta in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, where it becomes a first class camping experience including 5-star dining, shopping, and its own Dreamville camping options, including enough cabanas and campgrounds to make tailgaters salivate. Prices are rising constantly and although it’s during the school year I recommend you buy your tickets now because you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t.
Wakarusa (June 4-7)
Headliners: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Major Lazer, The Roots, Slightly Stoopid, Big Gigantic, White Panda, Lotus, and Young the Giant
The diehard music junkies would say that this Ozark, Arkansas music festival is the light side to Bonnaroo’s dark side. They’ll argue Waka keeps the community aspect of loving, sharing, and artistry while Bonna has been taken over by corporate sponsorship; of course they just say that because Waka is cheaper and you’re more likely to be attacked by wild animals. That’s part of the allure though, anything goes at Waka; it’s like the Wild West. You can hang up an Eno right in the middle of a mosh pit, be a part of the annual costume parade, make a drum for the circle, and rage all week in animal pelts. Waka is a great option that doesn’t break the bank and is perfect as baby wheels for all of you burgeoning hippies out there.
Forecastle (July 17-19)
Headliners: Sam Smith, Modest Mouse, Big K.R.I.T., My Morning Jacket, Wide Spread Panic, Cage The Elephant, and The War On Drugs.
“Bourbon” – that’s the one word that truly describes this festival set in the heart of the Bluegrass state, Louisville, Kentucky. One of the few music festivals not in a Mayberry setting; you are given all of the essentials of civilizations such as running water, plumbing, and easy access to deodorant. If you’re not feeling the music then head to one of the many bourbon tents and get liquored up by the finest whiskey East of the Mississippi.
In the end trying to pick the best option is like picking which Victoria’s Secret Angel to bring home to meet Mom and Dad, you can’t go wrong. Now get out there and update your Instagram account and ruin your chances at running for public office at the same time.