The Best Music Festivals in California

What’s your vibe when it comes to music festivals? A hippy camp vibe? Moshing so hard you get whiplash? No matter what you’re after, you can find it in California…

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 11th Feb 2022

California, also known as The Golden State, has quite the reputation. When you hear or read that simple word, something immediately springs to mind. Even if it's not one tangible idea. It could just be a concept or a feeling. 

But if you did think of something specific, perhaps you thought of dreams as thousands flock to the state to pursue their destiny. Or maybe you picture the golden sun beating down on beautiful people as palm trees sway in the wind. Maybe you picture the stereotypical surfer dude who’s barely comprehensible in his speech. Or that hippie atmosphere it’s known for. 

Or maybe you think of the state’s rich music history with deep roots in jazz, punk, rock, and house music. So many legendary artists are from California, including Billie Eilish, Snoop Dogg, Etta James, Amy Lee (of Evanescence) and dozens more. 

With all this in mind, California really is the perfect place for a music festival. It has everything you need: a connection to music, perfect weather, hippie vibes, and it's dreamy. 

So let’s dive straight in. Here are the best music festivals in California. 

 

 

Coachella

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When: Friday 15th - Sunday 17th & Friday 22nd -  Sunday 24th April 

Where: Empire Polo Club, Indio

Lineup: Kanye West (Ye), Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Swedish House Mafia

Coachella is easily America’s most famous music festival for a fair few reasons, including the fact it’s massive, always has impressive, current lineups, it’s Instagrammable, and, like any festival, it attracts a certain crowd. In Coachella’s case, the crowds of around 125,000 are made up of celebrities and boho vibes.

This year’s lineup, as always, is looking killer with Kanye West, Harry Styles and Billie Eilish as headliners. But further down the lineup is looking equally stunning with Doja Cat, Caribou, Disclosure, Black Coffee, Peggy Gou and other names that are dominating their respective scenes. For a truly unique festival experience featuring the biggest, best names in the game, Coachella is the one. 

 

Find tickets for Coachella 2022 - here

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Lightning In A Bottle

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When: Wednesday 25th - Monday 30th May 

Where: Buena Vista Lake, Kern County

Lineup: Glass Animals, Kaytranada, Little Simz, Black Coffee, Four Tet

Who said electronic music is all about getting trashed? Lightning In A Bottle brings wellness to electronic music with yoga, learning, art and more. Inviting ticketholders to "push the boundaries of reality and what is possible", LIB hosts over one hundred talks and discussions, workshops on a wide range of topics, including medicine making, as well as yoga and movement classes to reconnect you with your mind and body. 

The lineup for 2022 is looking brilliant with Grammy-award winning reggae artist Koffee, rapidly rising star Little Simz, and DJ Minx, who was named in MixMag as one of twenty women who helped shape dance music. It’s not a fest you’ll want to miss.

 


 

Stagecoach Festival 

When: Friday 29th April - Sunday 1st May 

Where: Empire Polo Club, Indio

Lineup: Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs

Probably the worlds biggest country music festival, Stagecoach welcomes some of the biggest names in the game, including Carrie Underwood, Brandi Carlile, and Brothers Osborne. And if you don’t want the party to end, check out Diplo on the decks! 

Outside of live music, there’s lots to get stuck into at Stagecoach. For example, how could you turn down some barbecue courtesy of Guy Fieri? With various styles including Cali, Georgia, and Tennessee, Guy knows how to cook up a feast you'll love. Then you can bust some moves down at the Honkytonk Dance Hall and have a spin on the Ferris wheel. Perfect!

 


 

BottleRock Napa Valley

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When: Friday 27th May - Sunday 29th May 

Where: The Napa Valley Expo, Napa

Lineup: Metallica, P!nk, Twenty One Pilots 

Can’t fully commit to one genre? We’ve got the perfect fest for you. With rock, reggae, pop, indie, country, hip hop, blues, RnB, dance, electronic and more, BottleRock is the perfect festival for an open-minded music fan seeking their new favourite artist. But BottleRock isn’t just about great music, it's also dedicated to great wine, food, and beer. 

There’s a culinary stage, craft cocktails and beer, wine, and more to tuck into. And if you overindulged, you can head over to Rapid Recovery, the stand that rehydrates you via IV. Then you can wander the site and admire art by Jacques Lesec, Kopol Bonick, Laura Kimpton, Zio Ziegler and more. 

 


  

Desert Daze

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When: Friday 30th September - Sunday 2nd October 

Where: Moreno Beach, Lake Perris 

Lineup: TBA

This year, Desert Daze will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in style beside Lake Perris, which has to be the best location for an alternative, psychedelic festival. Described as “a cross between a mini-Glastonbury and the dearly departed All Tomorrow’s Parties” by NME, Desert Daze has taken off and is now one of California’s main boutique festivals

Past lineups have included Japanese Breakfast, The War On Drugs, The Flaming Lips, and Pussy Riot, demonstrating the wide range of genres you can find at this fest. Desert Daze provides a unique, intimate atmosphere that other fests struggle to capture. But to truly understand its magic, you have to see for yourself. 

 


 

Primavera Los Angeles 

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When: Friday 16th - Sunday 18th September 

Where: Primavera In The City and LA State Historic Park, Los Angeles 

Lineup: Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, Nine Inch Nails

Good old Primavera has an edition that takes place in Los Angeles that is (surprise, surprise) an incredibly important date in the diary thanks to its stellar lineup. As diverse as ever, there’s something for everyone on this years lineup with rock, indie, pop, hip hop, electronic, psychedelic, EDM, and more to explore. 

Some sublime acts on the bill include Bicep, Clairo, James Blake, Mitski, Cigarettes After Sex, and Helena Hauff. This year’s headliners are spectacular with indie sensations Arctic Monkeys, huge star Lorde, and Nine Inch Nails, one of the most influential rock bands of our time. It’s safe to say that this years edition will be one to remember. 

 

Find tickets for Primavera Los Angeles 2022 - here

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Splash House Festival 

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When: TBA 

Where: Multiple resorts, Palm Springs

Lineup: TBA 

One simple but super fun activity we miss out on as Brits is proper pool parties. We don’t have the weather for it, and it's unusual to even know someone who has a pool. Splash House Festival allows you to enjoy the best bits of America that we miss out on, including good weather and pool parties with house and disco music as your soundtrack. 

No artists have been confirmed for 2022 yet, but past editions have featured some brilliant names, including Dom Dolla, Camelphat, and Armin van Helden, so you can rest easy knowing this year will be top. With a focus on partying, if you aren't ready to call it quits by the end, there are after-parties to keep you going.

 


 

Aftershock 

When: Thursday 6th - Sunday 9th October 

Where: Discovery Park, Sacramento

Lineup: My Chemical Romance, more TBA

Here’s one for the fans of heavier tunes! Aftershock brings all the biggest bands in punk, rock and metal to one place for around 145,000 fans to mosh and headbang to. Last years edition saw music titans Cypress Hill (following cancellations from Limp Bizkit and Faith No More), Metallica, and Misfits smash the stage open in front of an adoring crowd.

So far, the only confirmed band is emo legends My Chemical Romance. We’ll have to wait to see who else will have the honour of headlining, but whoever the Aftershock team secures will surely be huge. 

 


 

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

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When: Friday 5th - Sunday 7th August 

Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Lineup: TBA 

Outside Lands books many artists from multiple genres and has grown since its inception in 2008 to become one of the most significant US music festivals. The lineup for this year has yet to be revealed, but if past lineups are anything to go by, it’ll be cracking. Last year saw indie heroes The Strokes, pop queen Lizzo and the Grammy-nominated Tame Impala. Heavenly. 

But Outside Lands isn’t all about music. There’s also Grass Lands (we’ll let you check that out for yourself), drag queens, comedians, beautiful food, and more. And with a goal to give $5 million back to the environment by 2030, you can rest easy knowing the team behind Outside Lands has their hearts in the right place and are dedicated to sustainability and protecting the environment. 

 


 

HARD Summer

When: Friday 29th - Sunday 31st July 

Where: NOS Events Center, San Bernardino, Los Angeles

Lineup: TBA 

For the first time, HARD Summer is extending from two days to three to give the 80,000 it attracts an extra day to party and groove along to some unreal EDM, bass music, dubstep, and hip hop artists. And since the fest takes place in the peak of summer, there’s a pool to cool off in on-site! 

We’re still waiting for a lineup announcement, but to give you an idea of what to expect, last year's two-day event featured Future, Kaytranada, DJ Snake, 2 Chainz, Solardo, and Skream. Seeing as the founder is Gary Richards, AKA electronic artist Destructo, it’s no wonder the lineups never miss.

 


 

With mad pyro, dream lineups, comedians, unreal Man vs Food type dishes, pool parties and beaches, California has plenty to choose from. And genre clearly isn’t an issue either with something for everyone. Why not give it a whirl this year? Check out some California music festivals. You might just find your festival soulmate. 

 



 

Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.

 

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Header image:Coachella

Festivals 2022