Best Music Festival Alternatives in the West

Revel in the charm, camaraderie and quirkiness of these lesser-known summer festivals

It’s no coincidence that summer music festivals are the highlight of the year for music-lovers of all stripes.  Sunshine, exotic destinations, and talent galore make for glorious summer days and nights.  But what if you can’t afford a trip to Texas for Austin City Limits?  Or you missed out on tickets to the Aspen Music Festival and School?  No problem.  Here, we suggest five alternative festivals that will satisfy even the most ravenous music-lover among us.

Instead of Coachella: Sasquatch (Gorge, WA, May 25-28, 2012)

Just like the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Sasquatch has the whole awesome-acts-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thing going.  But unlike Coachella, Sasquatch is comfortable – even communal – with mild weather and a fraction of the attendance, despite headliners like Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver, Feist, Tenacious D, The Shins, Beirut, and The Roots. (

Instead of the Oregon Bach Fest: Festival Mozaic (San Luis Obispo, CA, July 11-22, 2012)

Helmed by internationally-renowned violinist and conductor, Scott Yoo, since 1971, Festival Mozaic has specialized in presenting impeccable performances against a backdrop of pastoral vineyards, pristine beaches, and historic elegance across San Luis Obispo County.  The eleven-day schedule teems with chamber music and orchestral performances, as well as educational discussions and intimate salons. (

Instead of Monterey Jazz Fest: Vancouver Intl Jazz Fest (Vancouver, BC, June 22-July 1, 2012)

Presented by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society of British Colombia, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival offers a hotbed of jazz talent in the city’s grandest venues such as The Orpheum and Vogue Theatres, as well as galleries like The Ironworks Studios and Performance Works on Granville Island.  This year’s big names include Bill Frisell, Wayne Shorter and George Benson.  (


Instead of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Telluride, CO, June 21-24, 2012)

If you’ve ever been to Hardly Strictly, you know that nothing compares to standing in Golden Gate Park soaking up the voices of America’s greatest troubadours.  But if you want a less crowded, more grassroots experience to go with your bluegrass, Telluride is for you.  This year’s acts include Alison Krauss and Union Station, John Prine, Edgar Meyer, John Fogerty, Mike Marshall, k.d. lang and Bela Fleck….all framed by the grand Rocky Mountains. (


Instead of Burning Man: Wasteland Weekend (California City, CA, September 27-30, 2012)

If your idea of fun is weathering sandstorms from the shelter of a pup tent in the middle of God-knows-where, but you can’t make this year’s Burning Man, never fear.  Wasteland Weekend is a “four-day post-apocalyptic party in the desert,” complete with top DJs, bands, fire dancers, modified vehicles, and “a world pulled straight out of the Mad Max movies, beyond the grip of so-called civilization.”  The venue is so out-of-the-way that “directions” basically amount to GPS coordinates.  Bring your costume (required) and your sense of adventure.  (


Filed under Lifestyle, Travel

2 responses to “Best Music Festival Alternatives in the West

  1. The Gorge looks like an awesome venue regardless of who’s playing!

  2. Pingback: Celebrating FOUR years: Our most popular posts. | THE DISH by PSPR

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