Nine Best Summer Music Festivals In The Northeast

Richmond fest

The northeast is a hotbed of summer music festivals. The following pitch-perfect events are all easy to reach without a car, so there’s nothing stopping you from enhancing your season with the sound of music. You’ll find a medley of musical styles performed in outdoor settings that range from urban to majestic.


The Festival: Dominion Riverrock
Where: Richmond, Virginia
When: May 15-17, 2015
The High Notes: Dominion Riverrock offers a spirited mix of music and sports against the waterfront backdrop of Richmond, where trail running, cycling and kayaking are just a few of the great outdoor activites on the lineup. An eclectic (and free) range of sounds, from reggae to rock, can be heard.
The Directions: Amtrak from Penn Station to Richmond in six hours.

The Festival: Governors Ball
Where: Randall’s Island Park, NYC
When: June 5-7, 2015
The High Notes: Governors Ball is held on gritty Randall’s Island in the East River. Musical genres include rock, electronic, hip-hop and indie. Chow down on delicious edibles from Luke’s LobsterMomofuku Milk Bar and Southernmost Falafel. A silent disco, lawn games and other diversions will accompany the headline entertainment.
The Directions: The festival ferry departs from East 35 Street and the FDR Drive. The festival shuttle bus departs from Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg. From the Upper East Side, walk or cycle across the East 103 street footbridge to the festival entrance, where you’ll find bike racks.

The Festival: Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival
Where: Croton-on-Hudson
When: June 20 and 21, 2015
The High Notes: Seven sustainably powered stages with music, family programming and environmental education are an unbeatable combination. Clearwater was inspired over 40 years ago by folk legend Pete Seeger’s sustainable vision. In the years since, it has become a symbol of successful grassroots activism. All proceeds go towards protecting the Hudson River and the communities in the river valley.
The Directions: Metro-North’s Hudson Line from Grand Central to Croton Harmon Station. Free shuttles will zip you to Croton Point Park.  Clearwater prides itself on its commitment to accessibility and a wheel chair van shuttle runs all weekend. Check out Metro-North’s One-Day Getaway package.

The Festival: Tanglewood
Where: Lenox, MA
When: June 20 through Labor Day weekend, 2015
The High Notes: As the summer home of the renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra, photogenic Tanglewood is a music festival with finesse. Classical music may be at its foundation, but pop, rock and jazz are big players. James Taylor is a regular, and a bevy of current celebs (think Lady Gaga) get into the groove.
The Directions: Ride the Peter Pan bus from Port Authority to Lenox in just over three hours.

The Festival: Festival International De Jazz De Montreal
When: June 26-July 5, 2015
The High Notes: Get your passport ready and head north to this Canadian city with Gallic panache. Musicians from the worlds of jazz, R&B, soul, funk and more are scheduled. Montreal Jazz attendees can enjoy hundreds of activities, including street animation, buskers and family programming.
The Directions: Amtrak from Penn Station to Montreal in nine hours.

The Festival: Bar Harbor Music Festival
Where: Bar Harbor, Maine
When: June 28-July 26, 2015
The High Notes: Bar Harbor Music Festival brims with variety. From classical string orchestras and opera to bluegrass and jazz, there’s something to suit a full menu of musical appetites. The concerts take place at venues scattered about this scenic coastal town, but the Blackwoods Campground Ampitheatre inside Acadia National Park is an especially spectacular setting.
The Directions: It takes ten hours to get to Bar Harbor by bus. See our Boston Transportation Guide to get to Boston’s South Station and transfer to Concord Coach Lines to Bangor. From Bangor, reserve a seat on the Bar Harbor ShuttleCape Air has short haul flights to Bar Harbor from Boston.

The Festival: Newport Folk Festival
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
When: July 24-26, 2015
The High Notes: Newport Folk Festival was the launch pad for numerous folk giants, including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. The current lineup prides itself on blending tradition with innovation, so a wide range of musical omnivores should be satiated. The coastal setting is a bonus.
The Directions: See oM’s Providence Transportation Guide. From Providence take RIPTA bus 60 to Newport. The journey clocks in at four hours. A water shuttle will take you to the venue at Fort Adams State Park.

The Festival: Newport Jazz Festival
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
When: July 31-August 2, 2015
The High Notes: As the first outdoor music festival in the USA, prestigious Newport Jazz is recognized as a cornerstone for jazz in the United States. The vigorous annual lineup packs a punch, attracting enthusiasts from near and far. For a more comprehensive peak, read oM’s feature on Newport Jazz.
The Directions: Same as for Newport Folk Festival, see above.

The Festival: The Wassaic Project Summer Festival
Where: Dutchess County New York
When: July 31-August 2, 2015
The High Notes: The Wassaic Project is an ambitious celebration of music, art and dance is a weekend-long opportunity for artists and performers to collaborate in a rustic setting. Programming is cutting-edge yet family friendly. When hunger strikes, fresh eats prepared with ingredients from nearby farms will keep you satisfied. Admission is free.
The Directions: Take Metro-North’s Harlem Line to Wassaic Station. A free festival shuttle meets each train.

Photo Credits: Forest Woodward, Hilary Scott, Jean-Francois LeBlanc and Ayano Hisa