These six music festivals serve the best food ever
Everyone loves a music festival—even former President Obama. Inspired by SXSW in Austin, POTUS threw his very own music festival at the White House with music, speakers and inspiring films. Smaller music festivals are popping up all over the country and, for the first time ever at a hotel, W Hotels debuted its inaugural music festival Wake Up Call entirely at W Scottsdale for three nights (9/30-Oct/2) with pool parties, live bands, DJs and Sushi Roku catering. Music festivals have come a long way as an outdoor concert celebrating live music to now being bona fide “experiences.” Many festivals are thinking outside-the-Pandora-box with activities and attractions that include larger-than-life art installations, carnival rides, boutique shopping, interactive panels and wine tastings. Now more than ever, festivals are wooing top chefs to serve up gourmet, elevated dining for discerning concertgoers who like to rock out their taste buds. Here are six festivals dishing out awesome performances, good vibes and heaping portions of amazing food. (This story was published in FYI TV/A+E Network, which I wrote for last year).
The grandaddy of music festivals, Coachella Arts + Music Festival in Indio, California is world-renowned. Tickets (close to 200,000) sell out within minutes, and the festival has even cultivated a lifestyle (yes, there’s a desert-chic Coachella look!). With hundreds of thousands of concert goers (especially VIPs in music) attending, top chefs want to be part of the action, and many set up stations, like Phorage, Status Kuo, Eureka! and The Church Key (as seen on Bravo TV’s Best New Restaurant), which are all popular West Coast restaurants. Renowned chef Roy Choi in LA has sit-down dinners at his popular Pot restaurant (celebrating Korean fusion) and even brings his Kogi food truck (which is responsible for spawning the food-truck craze). Outstanding in the Field is the ultimate dining experience. For $250 a ticket, diners can grab a seat at an elegantly lit dining area with innovative dishes prepared by notable chefs, like Michael Beckman, executive chef at James Beard-winning Workshop Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs.
Dates: April 14-16; April 21-23, 2017
Stagecoach is the most popular country music festival in the world, and it ranks third in the world for money making, grossing $22 million with some 225,000 attending. Among the most famous country music performers, top acts like Carrie Underwood and Eric Church headline. Taking place at Empire Polo Club fields in Indio, California (same as Coachella), Stagecoach nourishes concertgoers with country-inspired plates, courtesy of top local restaurants like Jackelope Ranch, Tack Room Tavern and Las Caseulas Quinta, as well as insanely good BBQ from award-winning restaurants like Bub City BBQ in Chicago. There’s even an annual BBQ contest where patrons can sample and vote the best BBQ items from various, notable restaurants.
Dates: April 28-30, 2017
Bottle Rocket features huge pop and rock bands (from Gwen Stefani to Stevie Wonder) in wine-centric, bucolic Napa Valley. As you can imagine, plenty of local wineries set up tasting stations, though the valley’s renowned restaurants serve up unforgettable, highbrow dishes. Concertgoers can expect big restaurant names like Morimoto, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon and Meadowood restaurant dishing out gourmet bites, which ultimately makes this festival the most lavish when it comes to dining.
Dates: May 26-28
Considering the remarkable food scene in New Orleans—from Creole and French to Cajun and southern—you can only imagine the delicious bites served at Jazz Fest. The annual, 10-day music festival merging jazz and rock with NOLA culture is among the top festivals in the city, and many people come just for the food. There’s almost a dozen food areas (like Congo Square and Grandstand) to get your grub on from some of the most diverse restaurants in the city. Expect traditional bites like boiled crawfish, po’boys, catfish, fried chicken, beignets and more!
Dates: April 28-May 7, 2017
Las Vegas is slowly becoming more known for its epic music festivals that happen in and around Downtown Las Vegas. Life is Beautiful is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to performers (music acts like Jane’s Addiction and Major Lazer perform), though food is one of its most notable highlights. The festival scours some of Vegas’ best restaurants (helmed by both local chefs and celebrity chef icons) to offer quality grub. Among them, Nobu, Aloha Kitchen, Cousin’s Maine Lobster and Honey Salt are favorites. Life is Beautiful also offers a distinguished beverage program with craft cocktails in partnership with many brands, from Red Bull and Bacardi to Effen Vodka and Taittinger.
Dates: September 23-25, 2016
San Francisco is regarded as one of the most distinguished food cities in the world, and Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival celebrates all things nom. The rock festival (entering its 10th year in 2017) partners with nearly 100 local gourmet restaurants, food trucks and dessert companies! Outside Lands continue to feature something new in F&B every year (2017 will see “Cheeselands” with Long Meadow Ranch, serving handcrafted cheese plates in a dedicated section).
Dates: August 11-13, 2017