MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Music festivals 2014

January

  • (Jan. 29 – Feb 1)Winter Dance Party

    Clear Lake, IA

    The Surf Ballroom marks the 55th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours.


April

  • (Apr. 1 – 6)Mission Creek Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    Dozens of musicians, artists and writers perform and read at downtown venues. On Friday evening, there's a literature crawl.


  • (Apr. 4 – 6)Roots and Bluegrass Festival

    River Falls, WI

    Hear music at half a dozen venues in the downtown of this western Wisconsin college town.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)Mid West Music Fest

    Winona, MN

    More than 75 musical groups in all genres play in museums, galleries, cafes and arts centers across town. There are arts workshops for children, too.

     


  • (Apr. 27 – May 4)Homegrown Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

    More than 100 musical acts will perform in venues around the Twin Ports, plus film, visual arts and beer.


May

  • (May 22 – 25)Dylan Days

    Hibbing, MN

    Bob's hometown celebrates his 73rd birthday with a film festival, singer-songwriter contest, photo exhibit and Bobby Zimmerman bus tour.


  • (May 22 – 26)North Iowa Band Festival

    Mason City, IA

    There's a carnival, craft show and car cruise, but don't miss the 10 a.m. Saturday band parade in this northern Iowa town, which Meredith Willson made famous in "The Music Man.''


  • (May 23 – 26)World's Largest Brat Fest

    Madison, WI

    There's music on four stages, the world's largest touring grill (a Johnsonville semi that can cook 750 brats at a time), the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile,  carnival rides and Sunday fireworks. Admission is free. Outside the Alliant Energy Center.


  • (May 23 – 26)Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival

    Oak Forest, IL

    In this west Chicago suburb, there's lots of music, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests.


  • (May 25)BobFest

    Spring Green, WI

    The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 73rd birthday with free outdoor music.


  • (May 29 – Jun 1)Bluegrass Festival

    Niles, MI

    Listen to American roots music on two stages along the banks of the St. Joseph River.


June

  • (Jun 6 – 7)Stamman Scandinavian Folk Festival

    Nisswa, MN

    This festival in the Brainerd Lakes area features visiting musicians from Denmark, Sweden and Norway as well as many North American folk musicians.


  • (Jun 6 – 8)Ribfest Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    This street festival in the Northcenter neighborhood, on Lincoln Avenue between Irving Park Road and Warner Avenue, features barbecue plus indie, roots, rock and alt country music.

    There's a Kids Square with games and a rib-eating contest Friday with professional eaters.


  • (Jun 6 – 8)2 Rivers Wine & Jazz Festival

    Ottawa, IL

    The festival in this town on the Fox and Illinois rivers features wine from 25 Illinois vineyards and jazz and blues in Washington Park.


  • (Jun 12 – 15)Steel Bridge SongFest

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    More than 150 musicians and songwriters perform in more than 15 venues around town to benefit the historic Michigan Avenue canal bridge.


  • (Jun 13 – 15)Blues Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This is the largest of Chicago's free music festivals, drawing 750,000 people to Grant Park.


  • (Jun 13 – 14)Winstock Country Festival

    Winsted, MN

    Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts headline this festival just west of Minneapolis.


  • (Jun 13 – 14)America's River Festival

    Dubuque, IA

    This riverside music festival includes a zipline, motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides.


  • (Jun 13 – 14)Northwoods Bluegrass Festival

    Ladysmith, WI

    Six bluegrass bands perform at the fairgrounds in this Blue Hills town, and there's on-site camping.


  • (Jun 20 – 21)Northwoods Blues Festival

    Spooner, WI

    Canned Heat and Johnny Winter headline this festival at the Washburn County Fairgrounds. On-site camping is available.


  • (Jun 24 – 28)Country USA

    Oshkosh, WI

    Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Gary Allan, Brantley Gilbert and Luke Bryan are the headliners of this year's big festival.


  • (Jun 25 – 29)Summerfest

    Milwaukee, WI

    They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan.


  • (Jun 26 – 28)Twin Cities Jazz Festival

    St. Paul, MN

    Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown.


  • (Jun 26 – 29)Country Fest

    Cadott, WI

    This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line.


  • (Jun 26 – 29)National Women's Music Festival

    Middleton, WI

    In addition to concerts, this musical and cultural festival at the Marriott Madison West features comedy, theater, film and writers' workshops.


  • (Jun 26 – 28)Lakes Jam

    Brainerd, MN

    Bret Michaels headlines this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway.


  • (Jun 26 – 28)Lakes Jam

    Brainerd, MN

    Bret Michaels, Uncle Kracker and Gretchen Wilson are among the headliners at this Brainerd International Raceway fest.


  • (Jun 27 – 29)Gospel Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This free festival opens in Millennium Park, moves to the Chicago Cultural Center on Friday and is in Ellis Park on the weekend.


  • (Jun 27 – 28)Blues on the Fox

    Aurora, IL

    Blues artists perform at the festival grounds on the Fox River, in the town where Chicago blues musicians recorded for RCA's Bluebird label in the 1930s.


  • (Jun 28)Field of Blues Festival

    Rockford, IL

    John Nemeth headlines the festival in Aviators Stadium in Loves Park.


  • (Jun 28)Yellow River Folk Music Festival

    Danbury, WI

    The Okee Dokee Brothers and Monroe Crossing are among the musicians playing at Forts Folle Avoine, a re-created fur-trade post on the Yellow River.


July

  • (Jul 3 – 5)Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

    Davenport, IA

    In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi.


  • (Jul 3 – 5)Iowa City Jazz Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music.


  • (Jul 3 – 6)Ribfest

    Naperville, IL

    Big-name bands perform in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening.


  • (Jul 4 – 6)Blues Festival

    Thunder Bay, ON

    This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront.


  • (Jul 4 – 5)80/35 Music Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    This rock festival (named for the junction of two interstates) is at Western Gateway Park.


  • (Jul 4 – 6)Prairie Home Companion 40th Anniversary Celebration

    St. Paul, MN

    On the grounds of Macalester College, Garrison Keillor and friends celebrate 40 years of the renowned public-radio variety show. Many activities are free, including a Community Sing-Along with Keillor at noon Sunday.


  • (Jul 9 – 13)Winnipeg Folk Festival

    Winnipeg, MB

    This easy-going, family-friendly festival features 70 performers, food and hand-made art from around the world plus a fun play area for children.

    Many people camp on-site at Birds Hill Provincial Park. Tickets are cheapest when bought in advance.


  • (Jul 10 – 13)Hodag Country Festival

    Rhinelander, WI

    This year, performers at this big fest include Kenny Rogers, Kellie Pickler and Sara Evans. There's a band contest, too.


  • (Jul 11 – 12)Basilica Block Party

    Minneapolis, MN

    This family-friendly outdoor rock festival on the grounds of the Basilica of St. Mary benefits its restoration and outreach programs.

     


  • (Jul 11 – 13)Blissfest

    Cross Village, MI

    This family-friendly folk and roots festival on a farm includes reggae, country, zydeco, jazz and Celtic music on three stages and four workshop areas. There's also a juried arts and crafts fair. Rustic camping is available.


  • (Jul 11 – 13)Square Roots Festival

    Chicago, IL

    The Old Town School of Folk Music presents this Lincoln Square festival, which includes more than 60 acts on four stages plus 30 local and regional craft beers and food from neighborhood restaurants.


  • (Jul 16 – 19)Rock USA

    Oshkosh, WI

    This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park.


  • (Jul 17 – 20)Rock Fest

    Cadott, WI

    This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians.


  • (Jul 17 – 19)Moondance Jam

    Walker, MN

    This big classic-rock and camping festival celebrates its 23nd year. Headliners include REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Styx and George Thorogood.


  • (Jul 18 – 19)RiverSong Music Festival

    Hutchinson, MN

    This family-friendly festival on the Crow River, west of the Twin Cities, features folk, blues, jazz and other grassroots music on three stages, including one for children. There's onsite camping and food.


  • (Jul 18 – 20)Pitchfork Music Festival

    Chicago, IL

    Headliners for this festival in Union Park include Beck, Kendrick Lamar and Neutral Milk Hotel.


  • (Jul 19)Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

    Hear island music on Lake Superior, from Bayfront Festival Park.


  • (Jul 20)Woodstock Folk Festival

    Woodstock, IL

    Music on the square in this town not far over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva.


  • (Jul 25 – 26)Prairie Dog Blues Festival

    Prairie du Chien, WI

    This Mississippi River festival on historic St. Feriole Island features 12 bands on two stages, with onsite camping.


  • (Jul 31 – Aug 3)Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival

    Davenport, IA

    Since 1972, fans of this Jazz Age cornetist and composer have held this festival in his hometown on the Mississippi.


August

  • (Aug. 1 – 3)Lollapalooza

    Chicago, IL

    This big music festival features dozens of bands and, unlike other Grant Park festivals, is not free: Three-day passes are $175-$215.

     

     


  • (Aug. 1 – 3)Blues on the Chippewa

    Durand, WI

    Just up the Chippewa River from Lake Pepin, this free blues festival in Memorial Park features 16 bands.


  • (Aug. 7 – 10)Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival

    Richmond, MN

    This 35th annual family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud.


  • (Aug. 7 – 9)WE Fest

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    This big fest in west-central Minnesota snags the biggest names in country music . Headliners this year include Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and the Zac Brown Band. There's camping onsite.


  • (Aug. 7 – 9)Country on the River

    Prairie du Chien, WI

    Jason Aldean and The Band Perry headline the national acts performing on two stages on St. Feriole Island.


  • (Aug. 7 – 10)Mile of Music

    Appleton, WI

    More than 100 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown.


  • (Aug. 8 – 10)Bayfront Blues Festival

    Duluth, MN

    The 26th annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages.


  • (Aug. 8 – 10)Live From the Rock

    Red Rock, ON

    This folk festival is on the shores of Lake Superior, east of Thunder Bay near Nipigon. Camping is on-site.


  • (Aug. 15 – 16)Big Bull Falls Blues Fest

    Wausau, WI

    Enjoy national and local blues musicians in Fern Island Park. There's a beer garden, of course.


  • (Aug. 15 – 16)River Roots Live

    Davenport, IA

    This free music festival in LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi, also features Rib Festival and the paddling festival Floatzilla.

     


  • (Aug. 16)HarborPark Jazz & Blues Festival

    Kenosha, WI

    This free festival is in the lakefront Celebration Place.


  • (Aug. 20 – 24)Lakes Bluegrass Festival

    Pine River, MN

    This family-friendly festival at the Cass County Fairgrounds, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 35 bluegrass shows and free workshops.


  • (Aug. 22 – 24)Porcupine Mountains Music Festival

    Silver City, MI

    Few settings are more beautiful than Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on Lake Superior; 25 national and regional blues, folk and bluegrass acts perform.


  • (Aug. 22 – 24)Great River Folk Festival

    La Crosse, WI

    This festival in Riverside Park includes children's activities and craft demonstrations.


  • (Aug. 23)Crossroads Blues Festival

    Byron, IL

    A day of blues downtown, with food from local restaurants.


  • (Aug. 25 – 31)National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival

    LeMars, IA

    More than 600 musicians perform on 10 stages in this town in northwest Iowa.


  • (Aug. 28 – 31)Chicago Jazz Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park.


  • (Aug. 30 – 31)Marquette Area Blues Fest

    Marquette, MI

    Two days of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior.


  • (Aug. 31 – Sep 1)Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival

    Geneva, IL

    Musicians and storytellers perform on eight stages at this festival in Island Park on the Fox River.


September

  • (Sep. 6 – 7)Rock Bend Folk Festival

    St. Peter, MN

    This free, easygoing festival in this Minnesota River town's Minnesota Square Park features local favorites The Divers.


  • (Sep. 6)Washington County Bluegrass Festival

    Lake Elmo, MN

    Monroe Crossing and other bands will play at this family festival at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, free with $5 vehicle permit. There also will be camping and food vendors.


  • (Sep. 11 – 21)World Music Festival

    Chicago, IL

    There will be more than 80 artists performing at more than 30 venues across the city, with some performances free and some ticketed.


  • (Sep. 12 – 14)Michigan Irish Music Festival

    Muskegon, MI

    There's music on three stages, plus dance and session tents, a cultural village, Celtic Kitchen and limerick contest.


  • (Sep. 13)Sun Prairie Blues Fest

    Sun Prairie, WI

    There's a whole day of blues at Angell Park in this little town just northeast of Madison.


  • (Sep. 13)Rock the Green

    Milwaukee, WI

    This "near-zero waste'' music festival in Veterans Park on the lakefront features six bands.


  • (Sep. 25 – 28)Boats and Bluegrass

    Winona, MN

    This family-oriented festival in Prairie Island Park, on the Mississippi River, features disc golf, paddling and airplane rides as well as music. A weekend pass includes camping and canoeing, and kids under 16 are free with an adult ticket.


October