Best US Cities for Late Summer Festivals


Shakespeare wrote, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” He must have known, if your heart was set on attending some of the biggest and most famous summer festivals this year, you’re a little late.

Coachella, Lollapalooza and Summerfest are in the books for 2014. Fortunately, there are still some prime parties out there to celebrate the final days of this most glorious summer. Here are five of the best — and a few more, if you encounter the potpourri nature of the last entry down there.

1) North Coast Music Festival – Chicago (Aug. 29-31): Sensible midwestern folk such as those filling Chicago know late August means more than the return of Bears/Packers games. Those dates promise the cooling of fall and the distant death march of a long winter. So, before that misery arrives, the town packs in the North Coast Music Festival.

Termed “Summer’s Last Stand,” the event takes on a more alternative, urban vibe. The 2014 line-up includes Snoop Dogg, Bassnectar and Kid Cudi. 

2) MusicfestNW – Portland, Ore. (Aug. 16-17): Held in the city’s Waterfront Park, MusicfestNW fits right in with the hippie vibe of everything Portlandia. While it’s sure to be a safe haven for clothes rendered from hemp and soap forged of elf fat and soy milk, visitors can also take in a trendy blend of music from Girl Talk, Spoon, Haim, and Phantogram.

3) The Sunset Strip Summer Music Festival – Los Angeles (Sept. 20-21): Forget the month. It’s always summer in California, and  The Sunset Strip Music Festival will fill that famous stretch of road through West Hollywood with the music of Jane’s Addiction, Empire of the Sun and the Kaiser Chiefs. Just a short toss from LA’s Rock n’ Roll Row, local businesses and famous clubs like the Rainbow and Viper Room join in the melee with their own additions.

Related: Coachella Sets 2015 Dates, Sale Details

4) Austin City Limits Music Festival – Austin, Texas (Oct. 3-5 + 10-12): I admit I’m really pushing the whole summer theme here listing a festival in early October, but we’re talking about Austin, Texas here. It’s 4 million degrees in the summer there, so some of that pleasant weather carries over into what would be fall up north and out east. Trust me: It’ll be plenty warm for Austin City Limits

This year’s line-up includes Outkast, Beck, Eminem, The Avett Brothers, Pearl Jam and The Replacements, 

5) Milwaukee – Take Your Pick: While it’s called “A Great Place by a Great Lake” or “The Beer Capital of the World,” Milwaukee is also known as the City of Festivals. Starting with the Milwaukee Highland Games in early June, there is quite literally a major festival every week or weekend until summer is over in Brew Town – including Summerfest (the world’s largest free outdoor music festival, the Wisconsin State Fair, Germanfest, Festa Italiana, Bastille Days, etc. You get the idea.

My theory is that winter is so long and so brutal, the local want to squeeze every last fermented drop out of the summer season. As a result, summer is a non-stop party until the snow flies. Still to come this year are Irish Fest, Milwaukee Indyfest (IndyCar racing), Mexican Fiesta and the Milwaukee Motorcycle Rally. You can get dates and details for all of the city’s festivals here.