Music Festivals

15 Best Music Festivals In California

By Priyadarshi Nepal | 15 August 2023 02:02 AM

Vibrant and Colorful atmosphere seen at the Northern Nights Music Festival at Cooks Valley Campground.
Source : billboard

California is home to some of the best music festivals in the United States of America. Coachella Music Festival in Indio hosts half a million visitors every year.

Music festivals are often one-stop to listen and enjoy both famed and up-and-rising bands and artists in one place. While the music is the major drawing factor for the crowd, the festivals often incorporate other forms of arts and food as well.

Multi-day festivals are the most common types of music festivals hosted across California from busy cities to lonely desserts. People visit these festivals to escape the chaotic lifestyle and rejoice in camping in addition to enjoying the live music in the venue.

We have compiled a list of 15 festivals hosted in different cities and places in California, we have ranked them from number one to fifteen based on the estimated yearly attendance as popular ones attract larger crowds.

Best Music Festivals In California

Name of FestivalLocation
Coachella Valley Music & Arts FestivalIndio, California
Outside Lands Music FestivalGolden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
Aftershock FestivalDiscovery Park, Sacramento, California
Power TripEmpire Polo Club, Indio, California
Bottlerock Napa ValleyNapa Valley Expo, Napa, California
Stagecoach Music FestivalEmpire Polo Club, Indio, California
Cruel World FestivalBrookside at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Beyond Wonderland Music FestivalSan Bernardino, California
Nocturnal WonderlandGlen Helen Regional Park, San Bernardino, California.
High Sierra Music FestivalQuincy, California
Kaaboo Del Mar Music FestivalSan Diego, California
Camp Flog Gnaw CarnivalDodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
California Roots FestivalMonterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, California
CRSSD Music FestivalWaterfront Park, San Diego, California
Lightning In a BottleBuena Vista Lake, San Joaquin Valley, California

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1. Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

Colorful and vibrant night seen at Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.
Source : facebook

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is hosted annually at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. The festival was founded in 1999 by Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen.

The festival attracted a crowd of over 500,000 people in its 2023 edition making it the largest festival in California. The event is hosted in April every year spanning two consecutive weekends. The dates for the 2024 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival are April 12 to 14 and 19 to 21.

Coachella hosts a number of genres including Rock, pop, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music playing continuously live throughout the day on numerous stages. In addition to music, the festival also showcases arts and sculptor installations as well.

2. Outside Lands Music Festival

Enormous crowd enjoying a musical performance at Outside Lands Music Festival
Source : instagram

Outside Lands Music Festival is held annually at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The festival has been held yearly since 2008 when Radiohead headlined.

The upcoming music festival in California is scheduled for August 11 through August 13. The 2023 edition of Outside Lands Music Festival will be headlined by Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, and Odesza, on August 11, 12, and 13, respectively.

Although half as smaller as Coachella in the number of attendees, Outside Lands Music Festival is one of the highest-grossing music festivals in the world. It is also the first festival to openly sell Cannabis to the attendees in the form of edibles, vape cartridges, and drinks.

Over 100 artists and bands perform at Outside Lands every year in genres including pop, indie, hip-hop, dance, jam, soul, and funk, among others.

3. Aftershock Festival

Festivalgoers enjoy metal performance at Aftershock Festival in the evening.
Source : facebook

Aftershock Festival is an annual heavy metal and rock music event from Sacramento, California. The festival started in 2012 as a single-day event.

The heavy metal and rock festival attracted over 160,000 people in 2022 making it one of the largest music events in California and one of the largest of its kind in the world. The single-day event has not become a four-day event lasting from Thursday to Sunday every year.

The dates for the 2023 Aftershock Festival are between October 5 and 8. Avenged Sevenfold, Tool, Korn, and Guns N' Roses will headline the festival on days 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively. All well-known metal and rock bands including System of a Down, Metallica, and Blink-182, among others, have performed at Aftershock Festival.

Over 100 bands and artists will entertain the festivalgoers for four days from different stages.

4. Power Trip

Power Trip official poster for co-headliners announcement for 2023 festival.
Source : powertrip

Power Trip is an upcoming musical festival scheduled at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Power Trip is being dubbed the sequel to 2016 Desert Trip.

Unlike other festivals, Power Trip is not an annual festival but will definitely be one of the best festivals in 2023. With an estimated crowd of nearly 200 thousand expected to attend the festival this October, it will be one of the largest heavy metal and hard rock multi-day events in California.

The Power Trip festival is scheduled for October 6 to 8, 2023, and will be co-headlined by Guns N' Roses and Iron Maiden on day one, AC/DC and Judas Priest on the second day, and Metallica and Tool on the last day of the event.

The three-day general admission tickets will set you back $599 before fees to attend the event. VIP ticket packages cost between $1,749 and $2,999 for three days.

5. BottleRock Napa Valley

An ariel view of partially filled huge festival grounds of BottleRock Napa Valley
Source : facebook

BottleRock Napa Valley was first held in 2013 at Napa Valley in California. The music festival lasted for five days and featured over 40 bands.

The music festival was established as the first large-scale event of the kind in Napa Valley in California, also known as wine valley. Although the event focused on music and performances, over 40 local wineries were also featured giving them substantial exposure through the event.

Post Malone, Little Nas X, Lizzo, and Ret Hot Chilli Peppers were the co-headliners of the three-day event held between May 26 and May 28, 2023, attracting over 120,000 people. The upcoming 2024 edition of BottleRock will be held between May 24 and May 26.

Apart from music, food, and wine are also important parts of the festival. There is a dedicated Culinary Stage for the food showcase at the festival.

The three-day general pass starts around $430 and the VIP pass can go up to $2,000 to attend BottleRock Napa Valley festival.

6. Stagecoach Music Festival

Entrance to the famed country music event Stagecoach Music Festival
Source : instagram

Stagecoach Music Festival is dedicated to country music and is one of the largest of its kind. The festival is hosted annually at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

Hosted on the same grounds as Coachella, the festival attracts nearly 100,000 people annually over the weekend. Stagecoach acts as a sister event for Coachella as both are managed by the same organizers and are hosted the following weekend of Coachella.

Stagecoach is also one of the largest country music festivals in the world both in terms of attendance and revenue. The ticket for general admission starts at $399 and goes up to $459 and VIP tickets cost up to $3,000.

The 2023 edition of Stagecoach was held between April 28-30 and was co-headlined by Luke Bryan, Kane Brown, and Chris Stapleton. The 2024 edition of the event is scheduled for April 26 to April 28 and the advance sale has already ended.

7. Cruel World Festival

DEVO performing during a beautiful evening at Cruel World Festival
Source : twitter

Cruel World Festival is held annually at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The inaugural event of Cruel World was held in May 2022.

The inaugural event was headlined by Morrissey, Blondie, and Berlin in three stages at the festival on May 14 and 15, 2022. The second edition of the music event was hosted on May 20, 2023, as a one-day event featuring artists like Siouxsie, Billy Idol, and The Human League, among others.

The second edition of the festival attracted over 70,000 people mostly from California and also from around the world. The event has not announced anything about returning for a third edition in 2024 and dates have also not been announced yet.

A one-day general admission pass for the 2023 edition was $150 and up while VIP passes were priced much higher at $399 and more.

8. Beyond Wonderland Music Festival

Official poster announcing the 2024 dates for Beyond Wonderland Music Festival.
Source : facebook

Beyond Wonderland Music Festival is an electro-dance festival held in California. Beyond Wonderland does not have a fixed venue but is mostly held in California.

The upcoming 2024 edition of the festival will be held on March 22 and 23, in Southern California but the actual venue and lineup are yet to be announced. The 2023 edition was held at Nos Event Center and featured Alan Walker, Audien, and Lil Texas, among other artists.

Unlike other festivals in this list, Beyond Wonderland focuses more on electronic and dance music than live performances from the artists. They also release an annual dance playlist for the festivalgoers to enjoy and the playlist is also played at the festival grounds as well.

9. Nocturnal Wonderland

Festivalgoers enjoying colorful night at Nocturnal Wonderland
Source : instagram

Nocturnal Wonderland is an electro-dance music festival from San Bernardino, California. The first edition of Nocturnal Wonderland was held in 1995.

The semi-annual festival is held in September in California and in April in Texas. The 2023 edition of Nocturnal Wonderland will be held on September 16 and September 17 at Gel Hellen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California.

The dance-music festival draws over 50,000 attendees every year in California. The adult-only festival requires attendees to be 18 years old or older and costs $159.99 for a two-day general admission pass.

In addition to the general admission pass, visitors can also purchase camping passes which lets the festivalgoers camp at and around the venue for easy access and unlimited fun. A three-day camping pass costs $299.99 before taxes and fees but is currently sold out for this season.

10. High Sierra Music Festival

A group performing at the main stage of High Sierra Music Festival
Source : facebook

High Sierra Music Festival attracts crowds of over 40,000 each year and it is held in Quincy, California. The event started in 1991 and is held annually.

The annual festival includes music of all genres including jam band, bluegrass, roots rock, folk rock, southern rock, jazz, country rock, newgrass, and blues rock, among others. There is always something for everyone at the festival each year.

The event is held every year in late June or early July during the weekend of the 4th of July. The 2023 edition was held between June 29 and July 2 and featured artists including Big Something, Black Sheep Brass Band, Boot Juice, and Circles Around the Sun, among others.

A one-day general admission pass for High Sierra Music Festival costs around $70 and a three-day pass costs over $290.

11. Kaaboo Del Mar Music Festival

A large crowd enjoying live performance at Kaaboo Del Mar Music Festival
Source : radseason

Kaaboo Del Mar Music Festival is now known as Kaaboo San Diego after the move to Petco Park stadium. The last event was held in 2019.

The upscale three-day music festival was held at Del Mar Fairgrounds for five consecutive years until 2019 before the move was announced. The move embedded the festival into legal troubles and a new edition since 2019 has been unable to take place.

While the official website of Kaaboo San Diego has an announcement of returning very soon as the festival is in final preparations, the date or year is yet to be announced. Kaaboo is more than a music festival as it also encompasses food and arts as well.

However, before the turmoil erupted in 2019, the event had over 40,000 regular attendees.

12. Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival

Official poster from Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival announcing the sold-out status of tickets.
Source : campfloggnaw

Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival is created by Tyler, The Creator, and was first hosted in 2012. The first event was just a single-day event but has since grown to a two-day event.

The upcoming 2023 edition of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival is scheduled for November 11 and 12 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Although the lineup for the 2023 edition is yet to be announced, the event has already sold out all passes for this year.

The carnival was halted from 2020 thru 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 edition featured artists including Drake, A$AP Rocky, DaBaby, H.E.R., and  Earl Sweatshirt among others.

The event attracts over 50,000 visitors annually making it one of the largest Hip Hop and Alternative music festivals in the United States of America.

13. California Roots Festival

Poster announcing 2024 dates for California Roots Festival
Source : instagram

California Roots Festival is hosted by Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, California every year. The event is attended by over 50,000 over four days.

The festival revolves around numerous genres including Reggae, Roots Reggae, Reggae rock, Folk, and Hip-hop among others, and is held in the last weekend of May starting from Thursday.

The four-day event was headlined by Rebelution, Wu-Tang Clan, Stick Figure, and Dirty Heads, over four days, respectively. Other artists to perform in the 2023 edition include Sublime with Rome, Cypress Hill, Shaggy, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Atmosphere, among others.

The upcoming 2024 edition will be held between May 24 and May 26 but the tickets have already sold out. The average ticket pass for general admission starts at 342.75 for an all-day pass.

14. CRSSD Music Festival

Fatboy Slim pictured from behind between high grown plants performing at CRSSD Music Festival.
Source : facebook

CRSSD Music Festival is held at Waterfront Park, San Diego, California. The bi-annual festival is held in March and September every year.

The upcoming fall CRSSD Music Festival will be held on September 23 and 24, 2023. The two-day electronic music festival features three stages with numerous artists performing all day long on both dates.

Ocean View stage will be headlined by Flume and Underworld, The Palms will be headlined by Basement Jaxx and City Steps will be headlined by Amelie Lens. The two-day event attracts over 30,000 festivalgoers.

Tickets for the 2023 Fall edition have already been sold out. However, they generally cost around $340 and the average ticket costs $570.

15. Lightning In a Bottle

Ariel view of colorful and vibrant festival grounds of Lightning In a Bottle
Source : instagram

Lightning In a Bottle first started as a private birthday party in the year 2000 but now draws over 20,000 people. The 2022 edition was held in Buena Vista Lake.

The festival is often abbreviated as LiB by the attendees and the producers and it is held in May every year. The upcoming 2024 edition will be held from May 22nd to May 27th.

The five-day event encompassed a lot more than just music and performance but the music is one of the major highlights at the event. The 2023 music lineup included Junk in the Truck, The Fungineers, The Polish Ambassador, Purple Disco Machine, and many others.

Apart from music, Lightning in a Bottle also has a variety of other events including yoga, meditation, food, and local art and crafts. A five-day general admission pass costs $375 for Tier 1.