Summer guide: Five fests worth the drive

Andy Downing
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

If Columbus' bevy of music-centric events can't quite scratch the itch, check out any of these fests, all of which fall within a day's drive.


June 7-10

A farm in Manchester, Tennessee

DRIVE TIME: 6-1/2 hours

COST: $337.50 for a four-day pass

PERFORMERS: Eminem, Sturgill Simpson, Bon Iver and more

SUMMARY: Everything about Bonnaroo is bigger, from its headlining talent (Eminem, The Killers, Muse, uh, Sheryl Crow) to the massive ticket price, which could double as a rent payment for some.


June 27-July 1; July 3-8

Downtown Milwaukee

DRIVE TIME: 7 hours

COST: Varies by performer

PERFORMERS: The Weeknd, Arcade Fire, J. Cole and more

SUMMARY: The largest, longest fest in the U.S., Summerfest offers a little something for everyone, from baby boomers (James Taylor & Bonnie Rate) to hip-hop heads (J. Cole) to people who have just plain given up (Florida Georgia Line).


July 13-15

Waterfront Park, Louisville

DRIVE TIME: 3 hours

COST: $169.50 for a three-day pass

PERFORMERS: Chris Stapleton, Father John Misty, Vic Mensa and more

SUMMARY: The fest, founded in 2002, has grown in leaps and bounds over the years and now takes over Louisville's 85-acre Waterfront Park. This year's lineup is among its best yet, serving as a model for what a regional fest can be with smart-but-adventurous bookers at the helm.


July 20-22

Union Park, Chicago

DRIVE TIME: 5-1/2 hours

COST: $175 for a three-day pass

PERFORMERS: Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, Big Thief and more

SUMMARY: While Pitchfork reviews don't carry the same career-making/-breaking weight as in the past, the website still flaunts its taste-maker status in constructing what typically stands as one of the more diverse, musically adventurous lineups you'll see from a major fest.


July 28-29

West Riverfront Park, Detroit

DRIVE TIME: 3 hours

COST: $125 for a two-day pass; $85 for a single-day ticket

PERFORMERS: Bon Iver, The National, Vince Staples and more

SUMMARY: This newby offers a short drive and a powerhouse lineup headlined by a couple indie rockers who have experience curating their own fests (Bon Iver's Eaux Claires and the National's Homecoming) and gifted rapper Vince Staples, who appears milliseconds from entering that Kayne/Kendrick stratosphere.