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5 Summer Music Festivals for College Students

Outdoor music festivalAttending outdoor music festivals in college is like a rite of passage — every student should have at least one summer where a weekend is spent road-tripping to a music festival. Seeing the country, basking in the summer sun, and enjoying good music with friends — what’s not to love?

Many students cite college budget problems as a barrier to enjoying summer music festivals, but undertaking a fun music-filled weekend doesn’t require you to fly across the Atlantic for a pricey weekend at the Glastonbury Music Festival.

Surviving Your First Music Festival

Step one is finding the right festival for you, securing the tickets and figuring out how you’re going to get there. In general, it’s best to book tickets early! Festival websites usually have direct links and information on ticket sales.

What’s next? Making sure you survive the festival!

Major events sometimes allow options like camping with tents and even have RV lots. If you’re planning on bringing a car, you need to find out about parking possibilities. Also, check festival rules on what items you are allowed to bring with you. You’ll want food and water (if you’re allowed to bring it) — and flashlights and first-aid kits can also come in handy. Check festival websites for details on what to pack and for details on parking.

There are plenty of music festivals across the United States — there’s bound to be one near you. Here are five of our favorites.

1. Bonnaroo

One of the better-known and best-loved summer music festivals among college students, Bonnaroo takes place outside of Nashville, Tennessee, every summer. Acts have included big names like Arcade Fire, Eminem and The Strokes.  Bonnaroo is pricey, but cash-strapped college students looking to save money over the summer can use a payment plan to pay for general admission tickets: five installments of $50 each.

2. Lollapalooza

In 2011, Lollapalooza celebrated its 20th anniversary with guests like Foo Fighters, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket and Deadmau5. The summer festival generally includes a wide range of acts (and therefore an eclectic crowd) and takes place in Chicago’s Grant Park.

3. Pitchfork Music Festival

The Pitchfork website is well-known as an opinion leader in independent music — and now it has its very own summer festival. Designed to be a cheaper alternative to the big-name big-bucks festivals, the Pitchfork Music Festival (also held in Chicago) offers 40 acts. Acts include off-beat groups like Neko Case, TV on the Radio and Deerhunter.

4. Austin City Limits

The Austin City Limits music festival is a three-day event featuring more than 100 acts. The festival first started out as a televised music program focused on Texan acts, but today, it’s become one of the best-known festivals in the US, featuring acts like Stevie Wonder, Chromeo, Bright Eyes, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and more.

5. College Festivals and Concerts

Colleges and universities are steeped in unique traditions. A number of them include music festivals, many of which are very cheap — and some for free! UCLA’s JazzReggae Festival, the Trinity College Hip Hop Festival, University of Oregon’s Willamette Valley Music Fest — if you look hard enough, you can find music festivals from coast to coast. Check colleges near you for events.

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