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Music festivals: Where to get down with the crowd this spring and summer

Live music lovers, 'tis the season.

Whether you're into alternative rock, hip-hop, jazz, R&B or all of the above, there's a musical festival for you now through August. And now's the time to book it, too, as all will require tickets and accommodations.

To help you plan ahead, here's a roundup of some of the most popular and diverse fests across the country -- and answers to some important questions (like what the food options are like).

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

When: April 25-May 4 Where: New Orleans, La.
Photo Credit: Getty/Paul Kane

When: April 25-May 4

Where: New Orleans, La.

Who's playing: The Fair Grounds Race Course is transformed into an outdoor arena where top-notch performers including Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Christina Aguilera and Santana will rock the Big Easy, along with lesser-known jazz, gospel and Zydeco artists.

What's the damage: Through April 24th, advanced single day tickets are $55 for adults. After that, gate admission is $70 for adults, $5 for children 2-10.

Best way to get there: Non-stop flights are available from NYC to New Orleans.

Where to stay: Hotels sell out fast, so book your room as soon as possible. More rooms may become available closer to the event. Find recommendations here.

What's to eat: There will be plenty of vendors on the festival grounds selling flavorful Nawlins' fare -- think 'Po Boys, red beans and rice and beignets -- as well as tasty vegan and vegetarian options.

What else: During the fest's first weekend, visit the Cultural Crossroads tent in the Louisiana Folklore Village for panel discussions on Native American art, music and culture.

Official website

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

When: June 12-15 Where: Manchester, Tenn. Who's playing:
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Guillaume Baptiste

When: June 12-15

Where: Manchester, Tenn.

Who's playing: An eclectic lineup featuring Kanye West, Elton John, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Vampire Weekend are on deck at this kumbaya fest set on a lush 700-acre farm.

What's the damage: A four-day festival pass is $284.50 plus fees.

Best way to get there: Manchester is about 60 miles southeast of Nashville and 40 miles northwest of Chattanooga. Fly in, then consider carpooling to reduce traffic and save on gas.

Where to stay: Camping is encouraged, so bring your own tent, rent one on site or even rent an RV. Hotel and shuttle packages are available for less outdoorsy city slickers.

What's to eat: Grub on local and organic foods at the Roo Café, or sample a cornucopia of gourmet food trucks in the Food Truck Oasis.

What else: Shop for affordable crafts and cool off in a trippy, 20-foot lighted fountain, in the Centeroo, the festival's main gathering place.

Official website

Firefly Music Festival

When: June 19-22 Where: Dover, Del. Who's playing:

When: June 19-22

Where: Dover, Del.

Who's playing: Outkast is back, and Andre 3000 and Big Boi are making the music festival rounds, including Coachella this month. But this woodland fest will be the closest place to see hip-hop's most dynamic duo. Plus, catch Foo Fighters, Beck and the Lumineers.

What's the damage: A four-day pass is $299.

Best way to get there: Dover is about a three-hour drive from New York City. You can also take Amtrak to Wilmington and then connect on Greyhound to Dover.

Where to stay: "Glamp," camp or book a room from $87 per night through T3 Travel (

What's to eat: From vegan and vegetarian to good-old greasy festival grub, there will be plenty of delightful bites at Fireplay, as well as an on-site farmer's market.

What else: Purchase and customize a pair of TOMS at the "Style Your Sole" tent.

Official website

Montreal Jazz Fest

When: June 26-July 6 Where: Montreal, Quebec Who's
Photo Credit: Montreal Jazz Festival/Victor Diaz Lamich

When: June 26-July 6

Where: Montreal, Quebec

Who's playing: Montreal is full of old-world European charm with a modern flare, and its Jazz Fest is one of the city's biggest annual events. For its 35th anniversary bash, headliners include Diana Ross (July 3 and 4) and Michael Buble (July 4 and 5).

What's the damage: Individual tickets range from $25 to $159, including fees.

Best way to get there: Take a scenic six-hour drive through New England or hop an hour-and-a-half non-stop flight from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark.

Where to stay: Four hotels are offering a package through April 30 that includes two nights, daily breakfast, two concert tickets for three venues, priority access to free concerts and official festival swag, ranging from $219 to $321 per person.

What's to eat: From poutine joints (the famous concoction of French fries slathered with cheese curds and gravy) on St. Laurent to decidedly French cafes in Old Montreal, there's no shortage of eats and treats near the fest.

What else: The festival is all about music, but since Montreal is such a cultured, walkable city, visitors can also shop trendy boutiques, stroll street fairs and check art exhibits at the city's plentiful museums.

Official website

Essence Festival

When: July 3-6 Where: New Orleans, La. Who's
Photo Credit: Getty/Stuard Wilson

When: July 3-6

Where: New Orleans, La.

Who's playing: This fest always draws major star power, and the 20th annual edition -- spread out between the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and other locations -- is no exception. This year's bill is topped by Prince, Mary J. Blige, Lionel Richie and Jill Scott.

What's the damage?: Single-night tickets range from $58-$263, with VIP packages starting at $1,100.

Best way to get there?: Fly direct on JetBlue.

Where to stay: Preferred festival rates are available at multiple hotels ranging from $179-$419 for a three-night minimum stay.

What's to eat: Take a bus or streetcar to the nearby French Quarter for regional cuisine and an infamous Hurricane.

What else: Attend empowerment seminars led by Oprah faves Iyanla "Fix My Life" Vanzant and T.D. Jakes.

Official website


When: August 1-3 Where: Chicago, Ill. Who's playing:
Photo Credit: Getty/Neilson Barnard

When: August 1-3

Where: Chicago, Ill.

Who's playing: The Windy City's Grant Park comes alive with the sound of music every summer during this long-running music fest. This year's top acts include Eminem, Outkast (hey ya!), Kings of Leon, Lorde and Skrillex.

What's the damage: Most ticket levels are already sold out, but if you're gung ho on going, you can buy the Platinum Pass for $3,600, or look into travel packages that include tickets and three-night hotel stays for two starting at $1,649.

Best way to get there: Several airlines offer non-stop flights from NYC to Chicago.

Where to stay: Book a discounted hotel rate through the Lolla Hotels for Hope website. For example, Monaco Chicago's rate is $259 per night for a minimum three-night stay and $279 per night for a minimum two-night stay. One dollar per room, per night is donated to charity.

What's to eat: Curated by Chicago celeb chef Graham Elliott, Chow Town offers delectable eats and treats from local restaurants. For more sustainable cravings, there's also the Lolla Farmer's Market.

What else: Keep the kiddies entertained at Kidzapalooza with family-friendly fun and arts and crafts. This festival within a festival is free for children 10 and under.



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