11 Spring Music Festivals Worth the Drive From DC
Something in the Water may have left the city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive to Virginia Beach
The outdoor music festival season kicks off in April — but nobody needs to go to Coachella for a stellar weekend and excellent music. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best fests worth your drive time this spring — none more than a four-hour trip from downtown DC.
Before we begin, we acknowledge you do not need to leave DC to have a fantastical festival time. There’s still the National Cannabis Festival, Project Glow, Tamarindo Festival, Capital Jazz Fest and more spring festivals in and around DC.
Metal and Beer Fest, April 14-15
Do you like metal — specifically Suicidal Tendencies, Black Dahlia Murder and a few dozen other bands that kinda sound like them? Do you like 3 Floyds and 10 other breweries that serve high-ABV ales? Don’t drink and drive. Get a hotel. Obviously.
Something in the Water, April 28-30
After a single DC edition, Pharrell Williams and friends are back home in Virginia Beach. It’s difficult to blame them — the festival with “water” in the name should be on the water, and the old/new setting is much better than the DC fest locale, the city street behind the Smithsonians. Drive a few hours south for 100 Gecs, Kid Cudi, Lil Wayne, Wet Leg, Wu-Tang Clan, Pharrell and a few dozen more great acts. And the beach.
Charm City Bluegrass, May 5-6
It’s the 10-year edition of this two-day festival at Union Craft Brewing. It’s hard to beat bluegrass at a brewery. I guess two days beats one. If you need more bluegrass in your life, keep reading.
Sing Us Home Festival, May 5-6
For the country music fan who prefers Hank Williams to Hank Williams Jr. Go for Drive-By Truckers, stay for Lydia Loveless. Oh, and one of ska’s current best bands: Catbite. This is one of the more affordable picks, with a very family-friendly 12-and-under-free policy.
Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, May 18-21 and August 17-20
So nice they do it twice. If you’re interested in attending and camping, get your spot now.
One of DC’s Best New Restaurants Serves Eisenhower’s Favorite Stew
Elsewhere you’ll find a waterfront wine bar, shellfish towers and cheese galore
Delfest, May 25-28
Yes, it’s a family-friendly bluegrass and jam band festival, but we’re recommending the 15th edition for acts like St. Paul & The Broken Bones.
Adjacent Music Festival, May 27-28
Blink-182 and opener Turnstile play Capital One Arena this summer. Tickets sold out instantly, and secondary market tickets for the pit at Blink at Capital One start at $550 in DC. Notably, VIP pit passes for Adjacent are $350. Get a pit pass and a hotel room for less than what you’ll spend in downtown DC. And see Japanese Breakfast to boot. Oh yeah, some badass bands play May 27, too (Jeff Rosenstock! Pup! The Linda Lindas!).
Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, June 2-3
Dropkick Murphys headline Day 1 and 311 headline Day 2. More than 100 breweries will be represented. I really hope one of those breweries is Rock Brothers, out of Omaha. They sell 311 Amber Ale. It’s the color of my energy. Whoa-oh.
Roots Summer Picnic, June 3-4
It’s The Roots in Philadelphia. This is always a good idea. Diddy with The Roots headlines night one and has the potential to reframe Diddy as a world-class musician. (His production work is still overlooked due to his outsized celebrity). Don’t sleep on Lil Uzi Vert, Ari Lennox, City Girls and more.
Maryland Doom Festival, June 22-25
One of the East Coast’s best fests, Maryland Doom Festival brings dozens of metal bands from across the globe to Frederick, Maryland, for four days and nights of shows at Cafe 611 and Olde Mother Brewing Co. If you’re not sure if all-black-everything is for you, listen to the 2023 Maryland Doom Festival Spotify Playlist. The producers make a playlist each year, and it’s some of the best new metal you’ll discover each and every year.
Beach It! 2023, June 23-25
Skip the trip to Stagecoach in Indio, California, in April and wait until the first weekend of summer for Beach It! with Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan and two dozen popular and soon-to-be-popular mainstream country acts.
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