Music is a universal language that kids of all ages can understand. Country, pop, rock, rap — it will all get you moving and grooving together as a family. Although often geared toward teens and adults, music festivals also keep younger kids in mind, with designated areas just for them. Little ones will enjoy arts and crafts, magic shows, petting zoos, pony rides and more, including free admission at some of these festivals! No matter what your favorite genre, we’ve got a list of excellent music festivals for families in 2018.
Written by Hilarey Wojtowicz
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - New Orleans
Kick off a summer of music and fun with your family in New Orleans. With performers like Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Kings of Leon, Alabama Shakes and Meghan Trainor, there will be a performer for every person in your group. Enjoy Cajun cuisine and food and craft stands from around the region, too. Foldable chairs, soft coolers and strollers are allowed into the festival, but bicycles, pets and glassware are not.
Recommended Hotel: Country Inn & Suites New Orleans
SunFest - West Palm Beach, FL
Enjoy the wind in your hair and the smell of saltwater while dancing to your favorite music at SunFest along the Intercoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach, Florida. The 2018 lineup includes artists from all genres, including Incubus, Pitbull, Nick Jonas, Logic, Billy Idol and many more. SunFest also features a fine arts and crafts show, contests and fireworks. Kids can play and enjoy their own music festival at the Jupiter Medical Center Kidzone during SunFest. Plus, kids get special treatment -- the festival opens early for little ones on Fridays! Collapsible lawn chairs and blankets are allowed into the festival.
Recommended Hotel: Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham West Palm Beach
Joshua Tree Music Festival - Joshua Tree, CA
The Joshua Tree Music Festival describes itself as a "family-friendly global music experience," and that rings true with the variety of musicians and bands from all over the world, plus activities just for kids. The Joshua Tree Music Festival continues its tradition in Joshua Tree, California, about 45 minutes from Palm Springs.
Besides opening their ears to new music, kids will want to spend time at Kidsville -- the area designated specifically for them. Activities include arts and crafts, face painting, yoga, and puppet, magic and improvisation shows, plus so much more. Families are asked to leave all glass containers at their hotel or campsite, and pets are not allowed. The festival permits (and encourages) outside food and drinks, though items will also be for sale inside the grounds.
Recommended Hotel: Joshua Tree Inn
Taste of Country Music Festival - Hunter, NY
Early summer music festivals are the best, in our opinion -- the sun is (more often than not) shining and the temperatures won't leave you melting like the Wicked Witch of the West -- so throw on your cowboy boots and hat for this annual country music festival in the Catskills. Families can camp near the concert stages in tents or RVs, or can stay at a festival-sponsored hotel, such as The Thompson House, which has a children's playground and free breakfast. The Thompson House offers transportation to and from the festival facilities for a small fee, as well.
In between some of this year's biggest acts, which include Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, LeAnn Rimes and Justin Moore, let the kids ride the SkyRide, hop on a pony or check out the petting zoo. There's even a mechanical bull! Outside food, glass containers of any kind and umbrellas are not allowed at the festival.
Recommended Hotel: Gavin's Irish Country Inn
Summerfest - Milwaukee
As the "world's largest music festival," with almost two weeks of performers from every genre, Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a guaranteed good time. With more than 800 acts on 11 stages in 11 days, Summerfest is a great option for families looking to rock out this summer. Performers include Imagine Dragons, Florida Georgia Line, Dave Matthews Band, Blake Shelton, The Weeknd -- the list goes on and on. Families will love the lakefront location along Lake Michigan, the interactive exhibits, games and shopping. Plus, there are special kids' days on Fridays throughout the festival, with specific activities geared toward those with special needs. Activities include games, music, food and more, tailored to get every child involved and having fun!
Recommended Hotel: Residence Inn Milwaukee Downtown
The Ride Festival - Telluride, CO
Head to the little cowboy town of Telluride, Colorado this summer for The Ride Festival, an extremely laidback and family-friendly two-day event. The festival takes place all throughout Telluride -- in Town Park, Mountain Village, and the Sheridan Opera House -- just to name a few locations. This year's headliners include Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Families can shop around the various food, drink, and merchandise vendors in between moving and grooving, or simply take in the magnificent views.
There are a plethora of areas for families to camp near the festival, including right in Town Park, Lawson Hill (just 3 miles away), and at Ilium Valley "Mary E" Campground. Transportation is provided to and from the festival.
Plastic and/or metal containers are permitted at the festival, but alcohol and glass containers are not.
Recommended Hotel: Madeline Hotel and Residences
Lollapalooza - Chicago
Located in the heart of Chicago, Lollapalooza began as an alternative rock festival, but has since turned into a family-friendly event that takes place every summer. This year's lineup includes Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, and Travis Scott. Families will love the festival for its food, farmers' market and shopping on Green Street. Plus, kids get their very own section for rocking out. Kidzapalooza offers its own stage with kid-friendly acts and different activities like karaoke, photo shoots, arts and crafts and more. Umbrellas, blankets and soft coolers are allowed in the area. Children ages 10 and under get in for free with their parents.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Palomar Chicago - A Kimpton Hotel
Outside Lands - San Francisco
Held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the Outside Lands music festival features big name artists that all ages will brag about seeing. The 2018 lineup includes favorites such as Janet Jackson, The Weeknd, Beck, and Florence and the Machine. However, the festival is not completely about music -- it also partners with a plethora of local restaurants, food trucks, wineries, breweries and art galleries, with live painting demonstrations. Kids will love the endless meal choices while parents can try something new and delicious, too.
Additionally, the festival is home to Eco Lands -- a series of groups and organizations who run eco-friendly activities for all ages. Kids can learn how to make compost piles for home or help build a solar-powered Habitat for Humanity house. A farmer's market and refillable water stations round out the environmentally conscious aspects of the festival. Blankets, soft-sided coolers, backpacks and cameras are all allowed into the festival. However, alcohol, glass containers, tents, strollers, lawn furniture and pets are not permitted.
Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Fisherman's Wharf
MusikFest - Bethlehem, PA
Artists from all genres continue to perform at MusikFest, an annual 10-day festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (part of the Lehigh Valley), and families can see Jason Mraz, Styx and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Brantley Gilbert and other big-name acts in 2018. Parents will love the many craft and food vendors (try the Aw Shucks corn-on-the-cob!) and children will enjoy the Spark Orthodontics Kinderplatz, complete with games, music and kid-friendly food, like chicken fingers and PB&J. Outside food and drinks, coolers, pets and bicycles are not allowed at the festival.
MusikFest declares itself the nation's largest festival with free, non-gated admission. With lots of free, local music and performers, families can easily have fun on a budget. If looking for more, guests will have to pay for a ticket to see the headlining acts (prices vary), along with separate tickets to use at food vendors.
Recommended Hotel: Historic Hotel Bethlehem
Bumbershoot - Seattle
With music, food, art and more for families and kids, Bumbershoot is the music festival for families in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle festival will feature a variety of national and regional acts in 2018, including musical performers, writers, artists and comedians. Sponsored by the Seattle Children's Museum, Youngershoot is a separate area for kids with hands-on activities and interactive programs, such as dance classes and arts and crafts. Youngershoot is geared towards children ages 10 and under and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during the festival.
Bonus: Children ages 10 and under get in for free.
Recommended Hotel: Alexis Hotel - A Kimpton Hotel
Kaaboo Music Festival - Del Mar, CA
An experience for all ages, the Kaaboo Music Festival in Del Mar, California (just under 30 minutes from San Diego), offers great live music, plus quality good times. Between sets from superstars including the Foo Fighters; Katy Perry; Imagine Dragons; Incubus; Earth, Wind and Fire; and so many more, parents can relax with children at one of the many seating areas. Kaaboo also works to make the entire experience pleasant, from the ultra-clean bathrooms to the various clean-up areas, plus Zipline Passes, which keep lines at a minimum.
The entire experience also comprises well-known comedians, local and regional restaurants, a contemporary art fair and more. Families of all ages can also enjoy massage services, henna tattoos, haircuts, golf and surfing simulators and more. The festival allows blankets, beach towels, small backpacks, strollers and empty water bottles into the grounds. However, all outside food and beverages, umbrellas, chairs, tents and pets are not permitted.
Recommended Hotel: Rancho Bernardo Inn
Austin City Limits Music Festival - Austin, TX
Everything is bigger in Texas -- including music festivals! The Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas, includes music, food, markets and an area just for kids. The festival is held annually on two separate weekends in the fall. The Austin Kiddie Limits is for children ages 10 and under and includes daily activities from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., such as karaoke, rock star hairdos, fake tattoos, a hip hop workshop and more. Blankets, umbrellas, soft coolers and strollers are allowed in the festival area.
Recommended Hotel: Embassy Suites Austin - Arboretum