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13 great music festivals within driving distance of Minneapolis-St. Paul

Summer 2018 music festivals are just a quick drive away.

Summer 2018 music festivals are just a quick drive away. M.K. Smith, Special to the Star Tribune

The massive hip-hop bash that was Soundset 2018 has come and gone, but there are still plenty more music festivals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa during the summer ahead. Below, find some of the most enticing, drivable options away from the Twin Cities, from genre-specific fests to vastly diverse celebrations.

Winstock Music Festival - June 8-9, Winsted, Minnesota

Drive: 1 hour

Lineup highlights: Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, Billy Currington, Luke Combs.

Tickets: $130-$325

Why go? There are two other country festivals on this list (Country Jam USA and WE Fest), but Winstock, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is the earliest and the closest to the Cities. As a special treat for Dierks Bentley fans, his performance serves as an unofficial album-release party, as his new LP The Mountain arrives the same day.
 

Mamby on the Beach - June 23-24, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Common, Spoon, Grizzly Bear, Russ, Cold War Kids.

Tickets: $69-$189. Free for kids 10 and under.

Why go? It seems to be a mere matter of time before the relatively young Mamby on the Beach— “Chicago’s only summer beach music festival on Lake Michigan”—is more widely known as one of the most appealing festival options in the Upper Midwest.


Summerfest
- June 27-July 1, July 3-8, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Drive: 5 hours

Lineup highlights: Imagine Dragons, James Taylor & Bonnie Raitt, Halsey & Logic, Florida Georgia Line, Dave Matthews Band, J. Cole, Journey & Def Leppard, Shawn Mendes, Blake Shelton, the Weeknd, Arcade Fire.

Tickets: $9-$100. American Family Insurance Amphitheater tickets (headliners): $44.55-$525.

Why go? The massive, pan-genre Summerfest, still promoting itself as “the world’s largest music festival,” will once again bring a mind-boggling array of artists to Milwaukee over the course of 12 days.


Piqniq
- June 30, Tinley Park, Illinois

Drive: 7 hours

Lineup highlights: Awolnation, Dashboard Confessional, Bush, the Neighbourhood, Greta Van Fleet, the Front Bottoms, Bishop Briggs.

Tickets: $20-$474

Why go? Put on by the Chicago alt- and classic-rock station WKQX, Piqniq is rising in the ranks of Midwest rock fests.


80/35
- July 6-7, Des Moines, Iowa

Drive: 3.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Kesha, Phantogram, Courtney Barnett, Atmosphere, Car Seat Headrest, BJ the Chicago Kid, Phoebe Bridgers.

Tickets: $52-$195

Why go? Though not yet a household name, 80/35 seems to get bigger each year; Kesha’s set will be the first time a bona fide pop star performs here. It’s also a good opportunity to see Minnesota artists—this year, Atmosphere, Remo Drive, and Greg Grease—at an out-of-state fest.


Taste of Chicago
- July 11-15, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Brandi Carlile, Juanes, Black Star, the Flaming Lips, Parliament.

Tickets: $18-$50

Why go? Music is obviously not the main focus of this outdoor food festival, but Taste of Chicago still books some major acts. The most notable performance this year is a semi-rare gig from Black Star (Yasiin Bey, fka Mos Def, and Talib Kweli).


Rock Fest
- July 12-14, Cadott, Wisconsin

Drive: 2 hours

Lineup highlights: Disturbed, Incubus, Godsmack, Rise Against, A Day to Remember, Halestorm, Seether.

Tickets: $89-$500

Why go? Pound for pound, the self-explanatory Rock Fest has a hard-to-top lineup of alternative, hard rock, and metal bands.


Country Jam USA
- July 19-21, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Drive: 1.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Blake Shelton, Alabama, Billy Currington, Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch, Clay Walker.

Tickets: $95-$169

Why go? Another fest geared toward country fans, featuring a handful of the genre’s current stars (though this year’s lineup is glaringly short on female acts).


Pitchfork Music Festival
- July 20-22, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, Mount Kimbie, Big Thief, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd, Julien Baker, Saba.

Tickets: $75-$375

Why go? As always, Pitchfork offers three days’ worth of today’s hippest indie artists, the majority of whom have been P4k Best New Music honorees at one point or another. There are some noteworthy surprises, too, like Lauryn Hill (performing her classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill), Chaka Khan, and Raphael Saadiq.


Vans Warped Tour
- July 21, Tinley, Illinois; July 22, Shakopee, Minnesota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 23

Drive: 7 hours (Tinley Park); .5 hours (Shakopee); 5 hours (Milwaukee)

Lineup highlights: 3Oh!3, Asking Alexandria, Mayday Parade, Less Than Jake, the Maine, Simple Plan.

Tickets: $41-$55

Why go? Chances are you already know whether a festival this genre-specific interests you, but the most notable thing about this year? It’s the final full cross-country tour for Warped, which launched in 1995.


WE Fest
- August 2-4, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Drive: 3.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Vince Gill, Chris Young, Justin Moore.

Tickets: $95-$215

Why go? Like Lollapalooza or Pitchfork, WE Fest is WE Fest—a festival that unfailingly books a huge lineup of stars and stars-to-be (in this case, country artists).


Lollapalooza
- August 2-5, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup highlights: Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, the Weeknd, Jack White, Travis Scott, the National, Vampire Weekend, Odesza.

Tickets: $120-$335

Why go? Lollapalooza is Lollapalooza—each year’s lineup is similarly stacked with huge headliners and dozens of other artists who could potentially be headliners one day. (However, this year’s lineup has been justifiably criticized for its lack of female headliners.)


Hinterland Music Festival
- August 3-4, Saint Charles, Iowa

Drive: 4 hours

Lineup highlights: Sturgill Simpson, Band of Horses, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Chvrches, Blackberry Smoke, Margo Price.

Tickets: $49-$599

Why go? There’s nothing particularly flashy or bold about this low-key Iowa fest, which is one of its charms, and the lineup, full of indie rock and alt-country artists, is solid.