Summer guide: Five music festivals worth the drive

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive


June 12-15

A farm in Manchester, Tennessee

DRIVE TIME: 6 1/2 hours

COST: $284.50

PERFORMERS: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, Skrillex, Artic Monkeys, Frank Ocean, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and more

SUMMARY: The long-running affair boasts a better, more diverse lineup than similarly celebrated events like Coachella and Lollapalooza. This is hands-down the gold standard in stateside summer music festivals.


June 25-29, July 1-6

Downtown Milwaukee

DRIVE TIME: 7 hours

COST: $17 general admission, and much, much more for Marcus Amphitheatre headliners (Lady Gaga tickets, for example, run upwards of $120)

PERFORMERS: Lady Gaga, Outkast, Bruno Mars, Brad Paisley, Dave Matthews Band, Usher and more

SUMMARY: The biggest, broadest music festival in the world has a little something for everyone. Pro tip: Skip the pricy headliners at Marcus Amphitheatre and stick to the grounds stages, where artists like Arctic Monkeys, Nas and Phantogram can be seen for a relative pittance.


July 18-20

Union Park, Chicago

DRIVE TIME: 5 1/2 hours

COST: $60 single day tickets

PERFORMERS: Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Kendrick Lamar, Giorgio Moroder, St. Vincent and more

SUMMARY: The expertly curated fest, hosted by the love-em-or-hate-em tastemakers at, returns for another go-round with a lineup heavy on hip-hop (Lamar, Death Grips, Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt and so on).


July 18-20

Waterfront Park, Louisville

DRIVE TIME: 3 hours

COST: $184.50

PERFORMERS: Outkast, Spoon, Twenty One Pilots, Action Bronson, Against Me! and more

SUMMARY: Forecastle, which takes over the Louisville waterfront for a weekend each summer, is noteworthy for several reasons, but perhaps none more so than the fact this year's iteration is the closest reunited Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast will be to Columbus - barring any FMMF-related surprises.


Sept. 25-27

Various venues, Cincinnati

DRIVE TIME: 2 hours

COST: $69

PERFORMERS: Afghan Whigs, Deafheaven, Sun Kil Moon, Panda Bear, EMA and more

SUMMARY: While much of the lineup impresses (EMA! Sun Kil Moon! Deafheaven!), the main attraction remains the opportunity to see Afghan Whigs return to its old stomping grounds with a sure-to-be-epic headlining turn.