Our Favorite Music Festivals
Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF)
Photograph by Dave Bonnot
Black Mountain, NC
May 9-12; October 17-20
This biannual frolic is kid heaven, a world of puppets, parades, circus arts, storytellers, roving magicians, unicyclers, and face paint, just 20 minutes from downtown Asheville, North Carolina. When families aren't canoeing, zip-lining, or browsing the kid-made craft marketplace, they can dance and listen to music on seven stages. $184 for a 3 1/2-day adult camping pass; free for kids under 10; $47 to $57 for an adult day ticket.
Strawberry Music Festival
May 23-27; August 29-September 2
Held in the fragrant pines bordering Yosemite National Park, Strawberry is legendary for its community spirit and its kid and teen programs, which include a music stage, swimming and boating on Birch Lake, arts and crafts, storytelling, and nature hikes. Top-tier acts are drawn from many genres, including bluegrass, folk, blues, and alt-country; and Hog Ranch Radio broadcasts it all to your campsite. $200 for a 4-day adult camping pass; discounts for youth; free for kids under 5.
Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival
Pete Seeger launched this ecofestival more than 40 years ago to celebrate the Hudson River, and it's still going strong, drawing crowds of up to 10,000 a day. It boasts a diversity of music and more river activities than you can shake a paddle at, including river seining, kayaking, and canoeing. Proceeds support the educational sloop Clearwater. $200 for a 2-day adult camping pass; free for kids under 12; $90 for an adult day ticket.
Harbor Springs, MI
Five miles (and a short shuttle ride) from one of Michigan's most beautiful beaches, Blissfest's vibe is true to its happy, hippy name. Three stages blend blues, zydeco, and more; musicians give acoustic workshop performances in the campground. The kids' area overlooks the main stage (for easy listening) and overflows with homegrown, crafty fun. $115 for a 3-day adult camping pass; free for kids under 12; $32 to $51 for an adult day ticket.
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival
In August, this Rocky Mountain meadow hosts a parade of top songwriters and their bands. Kids can spend all day in the St. Vrain River's shallow, sandy pools; drier activities include slack-lining, knot-tying, wilderness skills, and a chance to record your own MP3. $195 for a 3-day adult camping pass; free for kids under 12; $55 for an adult day ticket.
Riverhawk Music Fest
Tucked next to an orange grove an hour and a half from Orlando, Riverhawk is an intimate, family-run operation. Overhung with Spanish moss, the main stage rings with bluegrass, folk, and rootsy Americana acts both national and local. For kids, there are games (tug-of-war and a piñata hung from a live oak tree), crafts, a sand pit, and a trapeze rig. $125 for a 4-day adult camping pass; free for kids under 12; $40 to $50 for an adult day ticket.
Old Settler's Music Festival
When bluebonnets bloom, it's time for Old Settler's, held just outside of Austin. Kids can indulge in the inflatable playground, rock-climbing wall, crafts, petting zoo, and swimming and wading in Onion Creek. For everyone else, there are heaping servings of great Americana music and barbecue. $239 for a 4-day adult camping pass; free for kids under 12; $69 for an adult day ticket.