10 Midwest Festivals Worth Checking Out

Never been to a music festival before? Looking to switch it up and try something different than the one you constantly find yourself going to? Luckily for all of us, the music festival season will be here before you know it! Here at SCOPE we understand that looking for the right festival to attend is only the first step in actually making it happen. Generally, most of us don’t want to cross the country for one festival, parking and camping can be expensive, and finding one that fits your busy schedule is never easy. We figured that we would give a brief introduction to ten festivals in the Midwest that could hopefully work for you this coming summer!


1. Electric Forest 

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Location: Rothbury, Michigan
Date(s): June 23rd-26th

If you are a lover of EDM, dubstep, or any style of electric-based music; this is your Zion. A three day festival that is located deep in the woods of Michigan offers some incredible experiences. The beauty about this festival is that the music is not necessarily the main reason to go. Art works of all different mediums are splashed throughout the festival grounds with the ability to create your own as well! Not to mention you will hands down see some of the craziest outfits ever at this event.


2. Lollapalooza

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Location: Chicago, Illinois
Date(s): July 28th-31st

Many of us who attend the University of Iowa or live in the Iowa City community are already familiar with Lollapalooza. Almost every year since its inception Lolla has posted a power-packed line-up consisting of headliners from Metallica to Paul McCartney. However, Lolla did announce a minor change this year as they are now making the festival four days long instead of three. (WAHOOO!!!). If you’re looking for a good way to enjoy the summer as it comes to an end, go to Lollapalooza.


3. Summerfest

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Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Date(s): June 29th- July 3rd // July 5th-10th

Another powerful festival that boasts 11 different stages throughout the event grounds. Summerfest is split up into two different weekends which is nice in the fact that it aligns with more people’s schedules. Located on shores of Lake Michigan, this festival promises to be a good time as some of last year’s artists included The Rolling Stones, Kendrick Lamar, and Zac Brown Band.


4. 80/35

Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Date(s): July 8th-9th

Located in the heart of Iowa, this two day festival is always a great way to spend a weekend. 80/35 isn’t going to be as large as most of the other festivals on here but with names like Run the Jewels, Wilco, and Weezer making appearances last year, this festival was able to draw in 25,000 people in two days. There are free stages throughout Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines and the mainstage is almost always worth paying the relatively cheap price it is to check it out.


5. Grassroots Music Festival

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Location: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Date(s): Unannounced for 2016

This festival had its debut in the summer of 2015 with some powerhouse names. With artists like Lynyryd Skynyrd, Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, and DJ Snake; this three day festival showed it could compete with the likes of Lollapalooza for those in Nebraska and eastern Iowa who don’t want to make the long-haul. However, like with many festivals, Grassroots had a shaky start with limited beverages available, some artists cancelling, and internal issues that caused some panic for festival-goers. Look for them to learn from their mistakes and turn it around for this upcoming summer as they will most likely bring some large names again.


6. Country Thunder


Location: Twin Lakes, Wisconsin
Date(s): July 21st-24th

Don’t worry you country loving fans, I didn’t forget about you. Country Thunder is a notorious music festival for those of you who are patriotic and love drinking an ice cold beer while getting a beautiful farmer’s tan. In all seriousness, for those of you who are not even interested in country, this would still be a cool festival to check out. A single 4-day pass is $160 and with cheap camping you can enjoy going nuts for just over $300. That is not a bad deal at all. Headliners this year include Chris Young, Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, and Eric Church. Yee haw, partner.


7. Soundset


Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Date(s): May 29th

Hip-hop heads, this is your Mecca. As someone who has gone to Soundset twice, I can attest to what it has to offer. A single day festival hosted by the independent label Rhymesayers boasts debatably the strongest rap/hip-hop line-up in the entire country. A few of the names from last year were Ice Cube, J. Cole, Ludacris, Logic, Flatbush Zombies, and Vince Staples. No festival has local support like what Soundset brings to the Minneapolis area and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon. This year they are changing the location to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to accommodate for the large crowd it pulls in. Keep an ear out for the line-up release this coming spring.


8. Rockfest Kansas City

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Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Date(s): May 14th

Get ready to mosh, people. Rockfest is where those who are looking to get their faces melted off attend. Although the line-up has not been released yet, previous years have brought acts like Korn, Papa Roach, Rob Zombie, Tech N9ne, and All That Remains. They generally release the line-up in early February so be ready for some action-packed names to be coming to the Kansas City area this summer.


9. MAHA Music Festival

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Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Date(s): August 20th

This free-spirited festival in Omaha promotes the idea of being an individual and strapping on your dancing shoes. A one-day event that boasted names like Modest Mouse, Atmosphere, Purity Ring, and Wavves last year is bound to bring some more great names to the Omaha area. This festival is a non-profit and involves a lot of community-based arts projects that anyone of any age can do throughout the duration of the day. If you’re looking for a quick getaway before school starts up again, consider checking out MAHA.


10. Hinterland

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Location: St. Charles, Iowa
Date(s): August 5th- 6th

Hinterland made its debut last year and made one of the ultimate Cinderella stories of the festival season. After facing concerning issues about where to place the festival when the original grounds were flooded, Hinterland accidentally found the spot it was destined to be in: St. Charles, Iowa. Never heard of it? Not surprising, considering it is a town of roughly 700 people sort of conveniently placed in the middle of nowhere. The best part of Hinterland is that this is the exact landscape they want to place their audience in. The rolling backdrop of Iowa hills was able to place 16,000 attendees in two days while bringing artists like Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Brandi Carlisle for an incredible experience. Look for this festival to begin to start growing like wildfire in the next couple of years.


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