james reed

Summer’s best pop music festivals

Christopher Hitz for The Boston Globe

With summer looming, it’s time to gas up the car, put the windows down, and hear as many bands as possible in a single day. From jazz and jam bands to roots rock and world music, here are 13 outdoor music festivals where you can take in a world of sounds under the stars across New England.


Billed as “Wilco’s music and arts festival,” the band has curated a broad range of entertainment for this three-day affair, from the psychedelic rock of Brazilian legends Os Mutantes to Medeski Martin & Wood’s progressive take on jazz fusion.

When: June 21-23


Where: MASS MoCA, North Adams

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Miles from Boston: 150

Top billings: Wilco, Yo La Tengo, Neko Case, the Dream Syndicate

Others not to miss: Foxygen, “Border Music” with Marc Ribot and David Hidalgo, Sean Rowe, the Relatives

Before you go: Tickets $65 (single-day pass) and $149 (three-day pass). 413-662-2111,

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.



Electronic dance music meets jam bands, and the amenities alone warrant a road trip: four stages hosting more than 100 musical acts, “an Olympic-size swimming pool,” a tiki bar, and so on.

When: June 21-23

Where: Camp Coldbrook Golf and RV Resort, Barre

Miles from Boston: 67

Top billings: Max Creek, Break Science, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, Christian Martin


Others not to miss: Hot Day at the Zoo, Moe Pope, Something With Strings, Worthy

Before you go: Tickets $40 (Sunday pass), $120 (weekend pass), $150 (RV camping pass), and $275 (VIP camping pass).


The Crescent City comes to the Bay State for this annual festival with a particularly strong lineup this year, including the rightly titled Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas.

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Esperanza Spalding.

When: June 21-23

Where: Keystone Plaza Urban Fairgrounds, Worcester

Miles from Boston: 47

Top billings: Thomas, Anders Osborne, Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones, Mem Shannon & the Membership

Others not to miss: New Orleans Suspects, Walter Wolfman Washington & the Roadmasters, George Porter Jr., Shaka & the SoulShakers

Before you go: Tickets $15-$50 (single and two-day passes) and $65 (three-day pass).


On the heels of Boston Calling, the city’s first-ever weekend rock festival, this inaugural event casts an even larger net, touching on music, theater, food, dance, and family activities over a nine-day stretch. The event is especially strong on homegrown talent.

When: July 13-21

Where: Various venues, indoors and out, including Boston Common and City Hall Plaza

Kris Connor/Getty Images
Natalie Cole.

Top billings: Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Los Lobos, Ricky Skaggs, the Lemonheads

Others not to miss: Dale Ann Bradley, Alejandro Escovedo, Boston Bhangra, Buffalo Tom

Before you go: No tickets required; events are free.


They’ve got a right to sing the blues at this two-day event in northern Maine, anchored by the inimitable Mavis Staples (who’s on the road behind “One True Vine,” her forthcoming album produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy).

When: July 13-14

Where: 275 Main St., Rockland, Maine

Miles from Boston: 184

Top billings: Staples, the Holmes Brothers, the Lee Boys

Others not to miss: Eddie Taylor Jr., True Blues (with Corey Harris, Guy Davis, Alvin Youngblood Hart), the Blues Broads

Wayne Shorter.

Before you go: Advance tickets $25 (day pass) and $50 (weekend pass). 207-691-2248,


When there’s a tent specifically for dancing, you know you’re in for a good time. In addition to music on three stages, food vendors, kids activities, and hot-air balloon rides are among the attractions.

When: July 20-21

Where: Greenfield Community College, Greenfield

Miles from Boston: 123

Top billings: Gogol Bordello, Brandi Carlile, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, the Bernie Worrell Orchestra

Others not to miss: JD McPherson, the Skatalites, Spirit Family Reunion, Bombino

Before you go: Advance tickets $65 (day pass), $90 (weekend pass), free for ages 12 and under. 413-773-5463,

Angelique Kidjo.


Groove is in the heart at this beloved event that brings together bands known for their extended jams, be it in the realms of rock, funk, soul, and DJ sets.

When: July 25-28

Where: Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Conn.

Miles from Boston: 154

Top billings: Phil Lesh, the Black Crowes, the Roots, Tedeschi Trucks Band

Others not to miss: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Lord Huron, John Butler Trio, Funky Meters

Before you go: Tickets $42.50-$85 (single-day passes), $225 (advance weekend camping pass), and $250 (RV pass). 203) 908-3030,


Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Shea Rose.

It’s the only music festival in New England that should require you to get your passport stamped upon arrival. A world of music – from Dominican merengue and Portuguese fado to bluegrass and Chicago blues – is at your fingertips at this family-friendly event.

When: July 26-28

Where: Downtown Lowell

Miles from Boston: 30

Top billings: Aurelio Martinez, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Nathalie Pires

Others not to miss: Maggie Ingram and the Igramettes, Marshall Ford Swing Band, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

Before you go: No tickets required; events are free. 978-970-5000, www.lowellfolk


After the success of last year’s inaugural event, WGBH, The Boston Globe, and Citizens Bank are again teaming up to present this weekend festival that ranges from jazz to bluegrass to classical to world music.

When: July 26-28

Where: Copley Square, Boston

Top billings: Dr. John with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Angelique Kidjo, Alison Krauss

Erik Jacobs for The New York Times

Others not to miss: Red Baraat, Carlos Núñez, Della Mae

Before you go: Most events are free. For full details visit


The Newport Folk Festival is mostly sold out (with tickets still available for July 26), but its jazz counterpart is another good excuse to spend a weekend harborside in Rhode Island.

When: Aug. 2-4

Where: Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I.

Miles from Boston: 76

Top billings: Wayne Shorter, Natalie Cole, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding

Others not to miss: Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Robert Glasper Experiment, Bill Charlap Trio, Marcus Miller

Before you go: Advance tickets $74 (each day) $135 (Saturday-Sunday pass), with discounts for students and children. 401-848-5055,

Cory Schwartz/Getty Images
The Black Crowes.


For its launch, the Nines is counting on music fans to have a wide palette to enjoy everything from modern indie rock to R&B to comedy.

When: Aug. 10

Where: Willard Field, Devens

Miles from Boston: 35

Top billings: Explosions in the Sky, Shuggie Otis, Delta Spirit, Kid Koala, Walk Off the Earth, and more to be announced.

Before you go: Tickets $49.


A brew fest, art installations, 65 bands, and 30 films are all on tap for the fifth edition of this eclectic gathering that prides itself on supporting indie artists. Best boast? “Oh, and we got a Ferris wheel. You can ride it if you want to.”

When: Aug. 8-11

Where: Bangor, Maine

Miles from Boston: 235

Top billings: Dr. Dog, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Mean Creek, Lights

Others not to miss: The Knocks, Oberhofer, Herra Terra, Toussaint Morrison

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

Before you go: Tickets $35 (festival pass) and $55 (camping pass). 207-942-9207,


If Boston-area bars are vacant in mid-August, it’s because half of our roots-rock luminaries will be performing at this weekend festival.

When: Aug. 16-18

Where: 2056 Route 100, Stockbridge, Vt.

Miles from Boston: 161

Top billings: Tim Gearan, Bow Thayer, Session Americana, Waylon Speed

Others not to miss: Glenn Yoder & the Western States, Andrea Gillis, Mellow Bravo, Amy Correia

Before you go: Advance tickets $40-$60 (day passes) and $120 (weekend pass).

James Reed can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJamesReed.

Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Newport Folk Festival is sold out. There are some tickets still available for July 26.