Planning a trip to New York and want to catch some great music while you’re there? The empire state has a music festival scene that’s second to none, with everything from huge international events to local gatherings celebrating specific genres or artist communities.
In this article, we’ll count down the 15 best music festivals in New York – so you can start planning your trip and make sure you don’t miss a beat!
1. Borderland Festival
Knox Farm State Park, Erie County
When: September (two days)
The festival at Knox Farm is an event that people use as an excuse to immerse themselves in the beautiful landscapes that New York has to offer.
At the two-day festival, crowds can enjoy music from up to 20 bands spanning genres like rock and country. In addition to the tunes, visitors can indulge in delicious food, local art, and take in the stunning surroundings.
The Borderland Music + Arts Festival brings the history and culture of the region to life. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, you will love this music fest. Knox Farm is a common destination for horseback riding and hiking, so the venue is already picturesque.
2. The Governors Ball Music Festival
Citi Field, NYC
When: June (three days)
The Governors Ball Music Festival is an annual event that takes place in New York City. This popular festival attracts thousands of music lovers from all over the world each year.
The lineup for the festival includes incredible artists like Kid Cudi, Post Malone, and J. Cole–it would be an adventure worth taking.
No matter your taste in food or music, Governors Ball will have something for you to enjoy. Whether you want to relax or go wild dancing, they’ve got you covered.
Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn
When: September (two days)
Black joy is something to be celebrated, and AFROPUNK does just that. The cultural movement has become world-famous and grown immensely since it first started in the Brooklyn community.
Afropunk celebrates black culture and spreads its message of inclusivity. By providing a space for art, activism, and music, it creates community for those who feel ousted by mainstream society.
AFROPUNK always has fun and informative activities for attendees to enjoy in between sets. Oh, and did we mention food trucks? You can enjoy some of the best grub Brooklyn has to offer while jamming out to your favorite tunes.
4. Electric Zoo Music Festival
Randall’s Island Park, NYC
When: September (three days)
Get your groove on at the Electric Zoo Music Festival, where you can enjoy electronic music in an exciting atmosphere. This event is usually held during the labor day weekend. Some of the nation’s most popular electronic music artists will be performing at this epic event.
Prepare to have your mind blown by never-before-seen colors and sound concepts that will take you to another world. This is a music festival like no other, so don’t let it pass you by.
5. SummerStage Festival
Multiple locations throughout NYC
June – October
This outdoor performance venue hosts a number of musical acts throughout the year, spanning multiple genres. Every year, New York’s biggest free outdoor performing arts festival- SummerStage- showcases around 100 performances in 15 to 18 parks across all five boroughs.
SummerStage is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to summer arts festival in New York City. Most of its shows are held at the City Central Park so you can expect a lot of people. However, don’t let the size of the crowds intimidate you. The good vibes will make it worth your while.
6. Ithaca Reggae Fest
Stewart Park, Ithaca
Date: July (two days)
This celebration of Jamaican culture is a must-attend event for reggae lovers. The festival features live music, food, and crafts from vendors. Stewart Park comes alive with the sounds of reggae music every year, thanks to the amazing lineup of artists from across the globe.
On the first day of the festival, guests are welcomed and toured. The second day is full of awesome reggae tunes, yoga sessions, delicious food options, beautiful art displays and more!
7. TimeWarp USA
The Bronx / New York Expo Center, NYC
Date: November (two days)
TimeWarp is a one-of-a-kind event that merges music, dance and technology for an electric nightlife experience. They only have one mission: make you dance. With that said, they bring in some of the world’s best DJs to make it happen.
TimeWarp is the party to end all parties. If you want a night you’ll never forget, look no further.
8. Rochester International Jazz Festival
Date: June (nine days)
This nine-day festival spans over 20 unique venues in the culturally diverse and lively district of downtown Rochester, New York. One of the world’s grandest Jazz music festival boasts a variety of events and attractions to appeal to everyone.
For Jazz fans, this is the event of a lifetime! With over 325 different shows, 20 unique venues, and nightly jam sessions – jazz enthusiasts will be in musical heaven.
9. BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Date: June – August
The beautiful bandshell at Prospect Park is the primary location for BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! shows. The majority of these events are free to attend, so there’s no excuse not to enjoy some live music this summer.
These concerts will be the best part of your summer, whether you like indie-rock, soul, funk, or hip-hop.
It’s not just a celebration of music, it’s also a celebration of great food! With lots and lots of different performances and food options, there’s bound to be something for everyone. From rising stars to world-renowned artists, this is the place to be for live music in New York.
10. Chelsea Music Festival
New York City
Date: June (nine days)
The Chelsea Music Festival allows patrons to enjoy a wealth of musical talent from around the globe, along with delightful cuisine and visual art.
With an emphasis on contemporary works by composers rarely considered in the traditional western genre, their shows span many musical categories.
Feast your eyes and ears on the incredible talent at the Chelsea Music Festival. You’ll be blown away by the range of musical styles on offer, as well as the delicious food!
11. Rolling Loud New York
Citi Field, Queens NYC
September (three days)
The Rolling Loud music festival is a hip hop series held in multiple cities across the country, with New York being its northeasternmost stop. Performances by some of the biggest names in hip hop, as well as up-and-comers, make this festival a can’t-miss event for fans of the genre.
Hip hop heads will be in heaven at Rolling Loud. With acts from big artists like Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky, this is the place to be for some great live music.
12. The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is New York City’s largest hip-hop cultural event, showcasing the positive aspects of the culture. It was established in 2005 and highlights how hip hop can be an agent of artistic progression, social change, and community building.
Besides music, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival offers attendees a chance to hear from some of the most famous names in hip-hop. This music festival is about more than just the music, it’s about celebrating hip-hop culture.
13. Blue Note Jazz Festival
Major Venues in NYC
The Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York offers an impressive variety and level of talent. If you love jazz, then this festival is for you! It lasts a month and spans across different major locations around New York City.
They strive to bring in international and local talents while also promoting jazz music throughout NYC. If you’re passionate about jazz, this is an event you can’t afford to miss!
14. Harlem Meer Music Festival
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, NYC
Date: July – August
The Harlem Meer Performance Festival is held every Sunday in July and August. While enjoying various multicultural musical performances and dance shows, take in the picturesque views of the Meer.
Get ready to groove along the Harlem Meer! With a variety of musical genres represented, there’s bound to be something for everyone at this festive event.
15. Portal Burn
PortalBurn is an otherworldly event that you won’t soon forget. A place for those with a wondrous and untamed imagination, you will find here an appreciation for music, art, food & drink and performances through creative self-expression.
Whether it be coming together or enjoying solitary experiences, this music festival encourages everyone to explore and express themselves.
The event is vendor-free; items are gifted rather than bought or sold. It’s completely volunteer-run, so you can be sure that the people here are passionate about what they’re doing. If you want a unique music festival experience, Portal Burn is the event for you!
No matter what your taste in music is, there’s sure to be a music festival in New York that’s perfect for you. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away or simply enjoy some great live music, these festivals have got you covered.
So start planning your trip and get ready for an unforgettable experience!