Thanks to vaccines and ebbing COVID-19 cases, you can once again nod your head, snap your fingers or dance like nobody’s watching in front of your favorite bands this summer.
Here’s a look at which festivals are back for the summer.
If you like country: WE Fest
- 1 If you like country: WE Fest
- 2 If you like jazz: Twin Cities Jazz Festival
- 3 If you like feel-good music: Shangri-La
- 4 If you like funk: Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest
- 5 If you like variety: Down by the Riverside
- 6 If you like rock: Moondance Jam
- 7 If you like blues: Bayfront Blues Festival
- 8 If you like classical: Northern Lights Music Festival
- 9 If you like big band: Vintage Music Festival
- 10 If you like bluegrass: Minnesota Bluegrass August Festival
- 11 If you like road trips: Some festivals happening outside of Minnesota
The well-known celebration of all things country music is gearing up for its 37th year. The all-ages festival will be going on, rain or shine, Thursday, Aug. 5 through Saturday, Aug. 7. You can purchase tickets for each day or a three-day pass. Reserve a campsite to stay close to the action and if you want to be close to friends make sure you arrive together, there is no saving specific campsites ahead of time. The lineup this year includes Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton.
If you like jazz: Twin Cities Jazz Festival
The Twin Cities Jazz Festival is back with an in person live event scheduled for Sept. 17-18 in Mears Park in downtown St. Paul — more details to come. However, TCJF has already put on several live shows and is serving up more via their Jazz Fest Live livestreams. You can tune in on their Facebook page or reserve your spot in one of their upcoming CrowdCasts. And it’s all for free, though they do accept donations.
If you like feel-good music: Shangri-La
If you want to get in touch with nature as well as shake it up, Shangri-La might be for you. Held at Harmony Park over Labor Day weekend, the outdoor festival will feature a variety of genres with a lineup including Wookiefoot, Trevor Hall, The Reminders and Lowdown Brass Band. Camping is a big part of the festival, as is the effort to keep the event clean and green. Guidelines for cutting down on waste are posted on the event’s website. One change this year is that you must be 18 or older to attend.
If you like funk: Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest
In lieu of a big event in Mears Park this year, the Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest lives on as a concert series hosted at Dual Citizen Brewing in St. Paul. We’re too late to tell you about June’s show, but you can still catch The Good, The Bad and The Funky on July 10 or Bernard Allison on Aug. 14. Both events are all ages and free to the public, you can donate to the organization here.
Bonus: Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest are also putting on daytime shows at Mears Park on Sundays, check out the latest lineup on their Facebook page.
If you like variety: Down by the Riverside
Pack your lawn chair and head over to Mayo Park in Rochester every Sunday starting July 11 for a free and unique musical experience. Down by the Riverside is another event that takes the form of a series of concerts rather than a weekend-long show, but you won’t want to miss this scheduled lineup: Lindsay Ell, Chastity Brown, Smash Mouth, Polica and more.
Bonus: The Minnesota Fringe Festival, taking place online and in-person Aug. 5-15, features performances of all kinds, including some great local music.
If you like rock: Moondance Jam
If you’re ready to rock — and camp — head to the Moondance Jam in Walker, Minn., on July 22-24. Headliners include Halestorm, Cheap Trick and Todd Rundgren. You can choose from a variety of ticket packages and any tickets and passes purchased for last year’s canceled event should be valid for this year’s shows.
If you like blues: Bayfront Blues Festival
Catch a refreshing breeze off the blue(ish) waters of Lake Superior while you enjoy over 20 performers at this celebration of the blues. The festival goes from Aug. 13-15 at the Bayfront Festival Park. Again, you can pick from a variety of ticket packages, with one-day general admission tickets on sale for $59 if you buy early. Headliners include The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tab Benoit and C. J. Chenier.
If you like classical: Northern Lights Music Festival
For almost the entire month of July this festival takes shape as a series of concerts, performances and lectures at several venues around the Iron Range. Tickets can be purchased online or in person. The lineup features international artists as well as award-winning young artists.
If you like big band: Vintage Music Festival
It’ll be horns galore at this July 31 festival in Northfield. For 12 hours, 11 bands will be performing at Bridge Square in the city’s downtown. Bring your dancing shoes since many of the bands will be serving up jazz and swing as well as big band. The event is free with the option to donate. Bring on the brass!
If you like bluegrass: Minnesota Bluegrass August Festival
Held at El Rancho Mañana in Richfield, this festival, running from August 5-8, offers great music as well as workshops. Featuring High 48’s, Sam Bush Band, Sideline and more, tickets are on sale now and ages 12 and under get in for free. If you have your own banjo, fiddle, bass, guitar or mandolin bring it with and learn something new at the workshops being held during the festival — or just in case someone nearby wants to join in on an impromptu jam.
Bonus: If you want more activity with your festival, float on down to the banks of Prairie Island Campground for the Boats and Bluegrass Festival Sept. 23-25. As the name implies, there will be boats! The lineup has yet to be announced but tickets are on sale now — 16 and under can attend for free. This fest has a heavy focus on fun and keeping the area clean after the fans leave. Make sure you read the rules before you go.
If you like road trips: Some festivals happening outside of Minnesota
• Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago, Sept. 10-12.
• Rock Fest in Cadott Wis., July 15-17.
• Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Clare, Wis. Aug. 19-21
• Hinterland Music Festival in St. Charles Iowa, Aug. 6-8.
• Rushmore Music Festival in Spearfish and Rapid City, S.D., July 10-26.
• North Dakota Country Fest in New Salem, N.D., July 8-10.
What’d we miss? Tell us about your favorite music event and we’ll add it to the list!
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