Even though these days you’re more likely to find yourself at a Music Together session instead of a jam session, don’t say goodbye to the days of summer music extravaganzas. To make it easier to find your happy place, we’ve rounded up the most awesome festivals that don’t just let kids in—they welcome them with open arms. Scroll down to see when and where.
Summerfest: June 26-30 & July 2-7, Milwaukee, Wi
It’s like a rock & roll day camp for the whole family. The coolest part about the world’s largest music festival isn’t just about singing your heart out at diverse musical acts like Billie Eilish, Death Cab for Cutie, Willie Nelson and more, but also a chance to experience kiddie-rock performances, live theater, water fun with splash pads and paddle boats, fireworks, robot building and even a bacon eating contest!
Parents, you’ll need to head to the Northwestern Mutual Children's Theater and Playzone featuring not only jungle gyms and slides, but that’s where you’ll spot the children’s theater and interactive activities. From the Captivation Station and color labs to Comedy Sportz, the Milwaukee Art Museum and even spatula sizzles at the Mad Scientist lab—it’s an exciting extravaganza!
Don't miss the Summerfest Parade: Wed., June 26–Fri., June 28; Tues., July 2 & Wed., July 2 at 3 p.m.
High Sierra Music Festival: July 4-7, Quincy, CA
The ultimate in jam-band festivals, High Sierra is like a big warm hug for families. The Family Village scene is always hoppin’, from the Living Folklore puppet shows, family breakfasts and water games to the family talent show, shady chill zone for breastfeeding mothers, and the High Sierra KIDS parade. The Village Greens is always open for play, play and more play, and the Sing Along hut is perfect for...you guessed it, sing-alongs. There’s even the Rockin’ Nannies group of qualified caregivers who host a sleepover each night for parents wanting a little late night music action.
You can pack in food to the festival but be sure to sample the wide array of food trucks, gourmet eats and microbrews that will be available throughout the festival days.
Insider Tip: Head for Shady Grove campground; that’s where you’ll find quiet spots for camping.
Lollapalooza: Aug. 1-4, Chicago, IL
Lollapalooza's lineup this summer is packed with diverse acts, from Twenty One Pilots to Ariana Grande. Kidzapalooza, which is its own kiddie concert event within the rock festival and located in a separate area of Grant Park.
The family-fest within a fest includes a stellar line up of kindie-rock groups, plus there’s music stations with drums and guitars, breakdancers, a mural wall for painting and tons of amazing Chicago-style food.
Insider Tip: You can take turns watching the main stage and the kid-stage. Kidzapalooza is open each day from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., kids 10 and under are free!
Pickathon Independent Music Festival: Aug. 2-4, Happy Valley, OR
If you’re looking for a chance to give your tiny ones a lesson in sustainability while enjoying groovy bluegrass tunes, the Pickathon is where you need to be. No plastic to be found; bring in your own utensils or participate in an exchange program when sampling the organic fare.
Pitch a tent at the family camping zone, where lights are out early and it’s up and at em’ at the crack of dawn. The constant flow of activities for kids is pretty unreal. From basket making to foam arrow target shooting, circus camp, fairy wand making and the grand dragon parade, there’s something for everyone. Even the tiny tots can get in on the fun with their very own movement and games.
Outside Lands: Aug. 9-11, San Francisco, CA
It's the Bay Area’s most epic music event and this year's headliners include Twenty One Pilots, Paul Simon and KC Musgraves. If the fam is looking for a quiet place to chill, head for less crowded spots early on. The picnic tables just past the windmill at the Lands End Stage, or up on the hill next to the Sutro Stage are best bets.
The gourmet grub at Outside Lands is legendary but no worries—even the pickiest eater will find nosh. There’s fancy grilled cheese, pizza, satay and chicken and waffles for the kids; and parents can savor kale salad, smoked-coconut sugar brisket and Maine lobster rolls.
Direct the crew towards Eco Lands and head straight for the Rock & Roll Family Zone, where taking a moment to chill is encouraged! Feed worms at the Garden for the Environment booth, contribute to the Solar Habitat Microbuild at the AT&T sponsored booth, and find the Surf for Life and Urban Sprouts Photo Booths for post-worthy shots.
Bumbershoot: Aug. 30-Sep. 2, Seattle, WA
Seattle’s long-running Bumbershoot was a celebration way back before music festivals were on everyone’s summer bucket list. Held every year over Labor Day Weekend, you'll find big name headliners along side budding new acts. Besides the diverse lineup, attendees can find cool dance performances, visual arts, film and comedy.
Families with kids 10 and under can head straight for Youngershoot. Curated by the Seattle Children’s Museum, the list of activities for tiny rockers is endless. While there isn’t any child-care available, we know parents will enjoy themselves as much as budding musicians. The intro to architecture—inspired by Seattle’s famous skyline—is an especially popular station.
Insider Tip: The complete list of fun at Youngershoot hasn’t been announced yet. Check back here to get updates before the show starts in Sept.
Pilgrimage Music Festival: Sep. 21-23, Franklin, TN
Franklin, Tennessee is a beautiful little hamlet outside of Nashville and once a year it goes off the hook with this family-friendly all-star lineup of music from across genres. Held at the beautiful Harlinsdale Farm, fans young and old can enjoy this two-day festival that also attracts some of the best food in the region along with art and artisans. This year's lineup includes the Foo Fighters, Keith Urban, The Killers, Leon Bridges and more. Kiddos will love the Art Barn and the kid-specific stage (the Vanderbilt Health Lil' Pilgrims Family Stage) and Mare Barn Theater where they'll find activities and performances geared toward the pint-sized set.
Austin City Limits: Oct. 4-6 & 11-13, Austin, TX
If your dreams of attending SXSW have been waylaid by bringing kids along, don't fret. Turns out, Austin is home to another major music festival and this one is as kid-friendly as they come. The Austin City Limits music festival takes place over two different weekends and the lineup includes the stellar, the up-and-coming and indie stars. This year you'll find Billie Eilish, Mumford & Sons, Thom Yorke (of Radiohead) and The Cure, among others.
The littles will make a beeline for Austin Kiddie Limits. This mini-version offers up a ton of awesome entertainment for budding musicians, including a drum zone, hip hop workshops, hands-on art and more. There's also necessities like baby changing stations and a family-friendly entrance.
Insider Tip: Kids 10 and under are free. Look for the Kidz Beach Area to beat the heat. It’s a shady spot perfect for making sand castles while listening to your favorite acts.
Joshua Tree Music Festival: Oct. 10-13, Joshua Tree, CA
If you don’t feel like taking petite burners to the playa this year, consider another desert music-fest promoting community vibes and art. The Joshua Tree Musical Festival is super family oriented and besides the amazing scenery, there’s cosmic creations, painting parasols, puppet making and improv.
Within the festival grounds, the one acre lake is surrounded by Kidsville, the world market and organic food purveyors. The best spot to pitch a tent is in Family Camp on the North West side of the campground, but if you want to be out of the wind and dirt, there are trailers for rent, too. Kids 10 and under are free and be prepared for lots and lots of hula hoopers!
Insider Tip: You and the littles can beat the desert heat (and dust) with shade cloths that are draped over viewing areas and a quick visit to the free cool down shower stations.
— Amber Guetebier & Gabby Cullen