A festival holiday with plenty of dancing in a crowd alongside friends, family or strangers is an unforgettable travel experience. From discovering new artists to making memories, it’s the perfect way to live in the moment. Featuring all the top things to do and see, as well as places to stay nearby – here are the 10 hottest festivals in the US for 2023.
South by Southwest
South by Southwest or 'SXSW' is a hot ticket for emerging talent. Image credit: Holly Jee
When: 10 - 19 March 2023
Where: Austin, Texas
South by Southwest – abbreviated as SXSW and also simply referred to as ‘south by’ – is one of the biggest events on the global cultural calendar. Founded in 1987 to showcase local talent with a focus on music, it’s now an annual pop culture and tech conference offering film screenings, interactive events, panels, in one big industry gettogether. Not just a hot ticket for emerging talent, it also draws all the big names from Barack Obama to Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga and Prince. From 10th-19th March 2023, this citywide festival will make Austin the place to be – stay at The Carpenter Hotel.
Knoxville's dynamic Big Ears festival is a nonprofit cultural organisation. Image credit: Cora Boacas
When: 30 March - 2 April 2023
Where: Knoxville, Tennessee
A nonprofit cultural organisation and arguably the most dynamic festival experience in the USA, The Big Ears Festival takes over downtown Knoxville for four days each year. Between 30th March and 2nd April, the 2023 edition of this famously eclectic, large-scale event will include expanded programming to celebrate ‘Ten Years of Big Ears’. Expect performances, installations, workshops and experimental surprises scattered throughout the city’s quirky venues – from churches and theatres to parks and shops. Check into The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel in downtown Knoxville.
Party in the Colorado desert at Coachella in Indio, California
When: 14 - 23 April 2023
Where: Indio, California
Held in the Colorado Desert just outside of Los Angeles, The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an annual event running over two consecutive weekends in April. It’s known for star-studded line-ups and momentous sets, having hosted the likes of Beyonce, Billie Eilish, Daft Punk and The Pixies – and with a diverse range of headliners like Burna Boy and Björk set for 2023. If you’re not camping within the festival grounds, head back to Downtown Los Angeles to stay at the Hotel Per La.
Expect experimental music with impressive light displays at Levitation in Austin
When: 28 - 30 April 2023
Where: Austin, Texas
Also known as the Austin Psych Fest, Levitation is a 3-day spectacular that celebrates psychedelic and experimental music, accompanied by impressive visuals. Expect acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Black Angels, The Jesus and Mary Chain or Toro y Moi, set against mind-boggling projections, laser and strobe light displays. Nightly concerts are dotted around the city but most take place in the Red River Music district, where you can stay at The Westin Austin Downtown.
Jazz & Heritage Festival
JazzFest is a testament to New Orleans' rich musical heritage. Image credit: Joshua Bradsted
When: 28 April - 7 May 2023
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
One of the biggest music festivals in the USA, Jazz Fest is a testament to New Orleans’ rich musical heritage. For 10 days in spring, almost half a million attendees get the city in a celebratory spirit for unforgettable performances from a varied line-up; 2023 will see Ed Sheeran, Lizzo and the Wu-Tang Clan take the stage, among others. And the food is equally great – the festival highlights the music, art and culture of the city, which includes its incredible Creole cuisine. Local must-tries include a cochon de lait Po-Boy sandwich, Cajun jambalaya and plenty of Louisiana crawfish. Check into the Maison de la Luz, right in the heart of the city.
Check out huge headline acts at Atlanta's Shaky Knees festival
When: 5 - 7 May 2023
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
The springtime Shaky Knees (it usually takes place the first weekend of May) is an indie-rock festival that turns Atlanta’s Central Park into one huge party. It’s more about the music than the fashion, or food or general scene, meaning fewer trimmings but substantial main headliners. Recent years have seen sets from the likes of The National, Modest Mouse, Alabama Shakes and Neutral Milk Hotel. And 2023's 10-year anniversary celebration will feature The Killers, Tenacious D, and Placebo. Sleep off all the excitement at The Darwin Hotel, five minutes’ walk from Central Park.
Hangout Music Festival
Dance on white sand at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores
When: 19 - 21 May 2023
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Dance the night away on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, at the epic, 3-day Hangout Music Festival. In this surreal white sand setting, the line-up is curated to suit a summery, celebratory mood, featuring popular acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers, SZA and Calvin Harris. Hangout is produced by the company behind Coachella, so you can expect an impressive festival experience, featuring a roller disco, ferris wheel, great food vendors and ocean swims. Stay facing the sea at The Beach Club Resort and Spa II.
For a more luxe than wild fesival experience, BottleRock in Napa is the perfect choice
When: 26 - 28 May 2023
Where: Napa, California
For a festival experience that’s more on the luxe than the wild side, BottleRock in Napa is a great bet. Nestled in California wine country, it’s a 3-day festival that promises a bit of everything from rock and reggae to pop and hip hop, with confirmed 2023 acts including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lizzo and Duran Duran. But not just in terms of the music; it also offers incredible gourmet food from prestigious chefs, local wines, cocktails and craft beers. And a festival spa for added relaxation. Stay at the highly rated Archer Hotel Napa.
Enjoy the ultimate summer party at Miami's Rolling Loud festival
When: 21 - 23 July 2023
Where: Miami, Florida
Spanning three summer days in glorious Miami, Rolling Loud is a 3-day rap and hip-hop festival that’s become one of the biggest in the world. Despite only being established a few years ago, it already attracts headliners like A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone, as well as the hottest up-and-coming talent. After the festival at the Hard Rock Stadium, head back to South Beach and stay at Viajero Miami.
Lollapalooza is a massive, multi-genre festival in Chicago
When: 3 - 6 Aug 2023
Where: Chicago, Illinois
With a quirky name inspired by the Three Stooges comedy troupe and a star-studded line-up each year, Lollapalooza is an attention-grabbing, multi-genre festival. Conceived in 2003, it already has offshoot global events as far as Brazil and Sweden. But the original Chicago event is the real deal, with flocks of fans filling historic Grant Park for four days in early August. And nine stages graced by over 170 acts, from undiscovered bands to the likes of Miley Cyrus, Tyler the Creator and Metallica. Crash out for the night at Kasa South Loop Chicago, just a 15-minute walk from Grant Park.