WORTH THE DRIVE: 7 summer music festivals you won’t want to miss

Credit: Roger Kisby

Credit: Roger Kisby

The appetite for live music is beyond measure right now — fans are clearly ravenous.

The Inkcarceration Music and Tattoo Festival (inkcarceration.com) that will be held at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield on Sept. 10-12 this year sold out some time ago.

Organizers of the three-day festival with headliners Slipknot, Mudvayne and Rob Zombie announced on May 6 that the show was officially sold out almost five months prior to the event, calling it the “biggest year yet.”

With Interstates 70 and 75 running through our city, there are plenty of good options that are just a road trip away for live music festivals this summer. Here are some of the highlights of what’s out there worthy of a few tanks of gas and the ticket.

Based on other swift ticket sales you might want to act on these now before a potential sell out.

July 22-24: Country Fest


Headliners: Jake Owen, Chris Young and Dierks Bentley

Country Fest was originally scheduled to just take place on June 16-19, but due to overwhelming interest it added a July weekend for a second round. The festival, held at Clay’s Park Resort in Canal Fulton, is celebrating 10 years this summer. The campground has a waterpark, basketball and volleyball courts and miniature golf to enjoy when you’re not taking in the music, so there’s plenty to do.

July 29-Aug. 1: Lollapalooza


Headliners: Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone; Tyler, The Creator

Grant Park in Chicago will be a concert lovers’ paradise this summer when a who’s who of music shows up to entertain. Just a five-hour drive to the Windy City promises four full days of jam-packed sound programmed on multiple stages throughout the space from sun up to sun down. Other performers include Illenium, Kaytranada, Playboi Carti, Marshmello, Journey, Megan Thee Stallion, Limp Bizkit, Dababy, Brockhampton, Modest Mouse and Young Thug along with close to 100 other bands. There will be hundreds of thousands of other fans there, but Grant Park does allow for plenty of space to spread out as long as you are OK with distance from the stages.

Aug. 13-15: Interstellar Fest


Headliners: Boombox Cartel, Adventure Club, Liquid Stranger

Ohio’s first-ever all-electronic music festival is set to take place in mid-August in Cincinnati at Riverfront Live on Kellogg Avenue. The three-day festival will feature some of the biggest names in EDM and dubstep with beats that promise to be stacked and packed.

Aug. 20-22: The Summer Smash Festival (Lyrical Lemonade)


Headliners: A$AP Rocky; Lil Baby; Lil Uzi Vert

Hip-hop lovers are rejoicing with the news that Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash Festival is scheduled to take place in Chicago’s Douglass Park. The three-day festival from the popular rap website features favorite and cutting-edge names in hip-hop including Lil Skies, Lil Tecca, Lil Yachty, Baby Keem, City Girls, Coi Leray, 24Goldn, Benny the Butcher, The Kid Lardi and more.

Credit: Brian Glass

Credit: Brian Glass

Aug. 28-29: Wonderbus Music and Arts Festival


Headliners: Kesha, AJR, Wilco, grouplove

Columbus’ WonderBus will present some of music’s top hitmakers including Kesha; AJR; The Band CAMINO and more. On Aug. 29, Wilco will make their only Ohio appearance in 2021 and their only appearance in a five-state region. This all-ages festival will feature great music, a wide variety of culinary options, an artisan village, amusements and more. Held at The Lawn at CAS (2540 Olentangy River Road), the location offers 54-acres of open-air outdoor space to allow festivalgoers the opportunity to comfortably spread out.

Aug. 28-29: Railbird Festival


Headliners: My Morning Jacket, Leon Bridges, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit; Dave Matthews Band

Railbird Festival returns to the beautiful grounds of Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., at the end of August in celebration of music, bourbon and equine. Organizers are promising “highly-curated bourbon experiences” in The Rickhouse and “up-close culinary demonstrations” with Sip & Savor in addition to the impressive music bill. Hand-selected barrels from Kentucky’s finest distilleries will be featured, chosen in collaboration with co-owners Justin Sloan and Justin Thompson of Lexington’s treasured Justins’ House of Bourbon. In addition, guests can get in on the action and wager on off-track betting with coast-to-coast simulcast from Del Mar to Saratoga on the festival grounds as they take in the races from an air-conditioned bar and lounge inside Lucky Day Plaza.

Sept. 3-4: Breakaway Music Festival


Headliners: Kygo, Illenium, 24KGoldn, Chelsea Cultre, Gryffin, Madeon, Sofi Tukker

Breakaway Music Festival takes place in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Aug. 27-28, Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 1-2 and Columbus in early September. The artists offer a mix of hip hop, EDM and pop music. The event will be held in the Historic Crew Stadium (formerly MAPFRE Stadium) off of I-71.

Contact this contributing writer at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com.

About the Author