Music festivals. Perhaps one of the most fun and exciting events one can experience in their lifetime. These music festivals have become an intergral part of our society and culture. They provide us an opportunity to see our favorite DJs and performers all in one place. Music festivals have given me and many others the chance to see DJs that we normally wouldn’t, because a festival brought them close to our town. Today we’d like to celebrate these festivals and thank them, specifically the ones in California. Whether planning your first Cali festival or looking for a new one, this list should help you find what you’re looking for. With that being said, let’s get to it!
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Coachella (Indio) – April
This music festival is perhaps the most famous California music festival. Although not known for having a deep and diverse cast of EDM artists in their line up, Coachella attracts the biggest stars in EDM. The venue is spectacular and attracts celebrities from all over. Partying next to supermodels and famous instagramers has never been so much fun.
Nocturnal Wonderland (San Bernadino) – September
Nocturnal Wonderland. Many don’t know, but this festival is America’s longest-running dance music festival and a Southern California highlight. In many ways, for artists coming off of the summer tour circuit, Nocturnal Wonderland represents the next chance to test and try out new music. The crowd is super high energy and fun as everyone comes here to pay tribute to their favorite EDM artists. The Insomniac-powered festival typically features five stages, a vibrant setting full of lights and color, and music until midnight.
Escape Psycho Circus (San Bernadino) – Halloween
Looking for the best Halloween party? Look no further. Insomniac’s horror-themed music festival is the perfect Halloween event. In true Insomniac fashion, Escape: Psycho Circus is an immersive experience. The festival features themed stages, sinister sights, and a heavy dose of bass are ensure a lasting impression on those who dare enter.
Lightning in a Bottle (Buena Vista Lake) – May
Few festivals embody the cultural spirit of central California’s Lightning In A Bottle (LIB). This EDM electronic festival features much more then your favorite EDM artsits. LIB offers interactive art, yoga classes, and meditation workshops. The LIB has become one of the most popular and different EDM festivals in California. The venue is spectacular and welcoming. The LIB team have also done a lot to reinvest back into their community and culture, managing to build up a dedicated following year after year.
Hard Summer (San Bernadino) – August
In its formative years HARD Summer became a peak summer draw for any electronic music fan. From the biggest headliners to attention-grabbing undercards, curation and branding have been consistent strong suits. In 2019 Hard Summer broke the record for biggest festival in Fontana, California history, as 170,000 people attended the event. Hard Summer is a unbelievablly fun festival that is a must attend for any EDM fan.
Beyond Wonderland (San Bernadino) – March
Insomniac festivals are all about community, atmosphere and providing their guests with the best soundsystem money can buy. Beyond Wonderland is argued to be the best of the best of EDM festivals in Cali. The fantasy theme of the festival is widely embraced by its patrons creating a setting that keeps attendees savoring every moment. The experience is unrivaled and with the success of Nocturnal Wonderland, Beyond Wonderland became a sister-brand that would bring the focus back toward the fantastical environments that brought Insomniac its fame.
Countdown NYE (San Bernadino) – New Years Eve
California is truly fortunate to have multiple New Year’s festivals to choose from. In particular, we should give Countdown NYE a special look. The extraterrestrial-themed festival does not hesitate to bring the heavy hitters. The festival attracts the biggest names in EDM and hosts one of the best New Years Eve parties in the state. When looking to celebrate the new year, Countdown in San Bernardino has you covered.
Dreamstate Socal (San Bernadino) – November
Insomniac’s Dreamstate SoCal calls to trance fans from all over the world – and there are a lot of them. From uplifting to psytrance, many forget that trance music is an umbrella that includes numerous different subcultures. Dreamstate puts the spotlight on these trance subgenres and explores them from the unique perspectives of popular DJs that are not often seen elsewhere. The festival is world reknowned and celebrated by die-hard EDM fans.
Hard Day of the Dead (San Bernadino) – November
For festival goers seeking something in between Halloween and the holiday season, HARD Day of the Dead is perhaps your best bet. This one day event brings huge EDM artists and upwards of 70,000 fans together to celebrate “Dia de los Muertos.” The EDM played has no focus, which is fantastic for those looking to diversify their experience.
Groove Island (Catalina Island) – October
Unlike Fyre Festival, Whet Travel, the company behind Groove Island, has over a decade of experience organizing some of the most successful dance music cruises and island parties, all 43 of which gone off with hardly a hitch. Rather than attempting to build an entire islands worth of infrastructure and accommodations, Groove Island tapped into the already robust local economy of the city of Avalon. The local community was incredibly warm and welcoming, and the food and accommodations were excellent, to say the least.
“It’s a fully immersive experience on Catalina… We rented the majority of the hotels, Airbnbs, part of the campground, the [Descanso] Beach Club, the casino, the country club, plus ferries, helicopters, yachts and so forth to get people on the island,” said Jason Beukema, the founder of Groove Island.
As guests arrived on the island by way of the Catalina Ferry, they were greeted with a view of the beautiful Avalon Bay and the city of Avalon – what would become their own personal paradise for the next three days. A popular tourist destination for well over a century, Avalon is home to a top-notch assortment of restaurants, beaches, spas, land and ocean adventures, as well as a whole slew of awesome recreational activities. Some of the most exciting opportunities (aside from the music, of course) included an escape room with Sam Feldt, soccer with Mark Knight, a zipline course with Dillon Nathaniel, and an ocean snorkeling adventure with Chus & Ceballos.
CRSSD (San Diego) – March, September
CRSSD is a 2-Day Festival in downtown San Diego, and happens TWICE a year! They’ve always got a star-studded line-up across three stages, in a beautiful venue, and dozens of after-hours events to choose from after the festival ends. I’ve been once myself, and had an unbelievably fun time! It’s one of the best music festivals in San Diego, and shouldn’t be missed if you’re heading to southern-California when it’s going down!
Splash House (Palm Springs) – June & August (2 weekends)
Splash House is what you get when you mix up fun-loving people, with some rocking pool parties, and an escape to sunny Palm Springs, California. It’s a little slice of paradise where friendships are forged as people dance to the best in house, disco, and electronica.
Splash House takes place across three hotel resorts in both June and August. Buy a ticket and you get admission to all three, plus shuttles running between all weekend. Buy a hotel package and you can enjoy a room just steps away from the stage in addition to access to all three resorts.
By night, we take flight at the Palm Springs Air Museum for our After Hours program – a pair of open air parties back-dropped by vintage aircraft and a glowing airport tarmac. After Hours admission is sold separately and may be purchased with or without a Splash House ticket.”
Outside Lands (San Francisco) August
Outside Lands Music Festival is one of the most popular music festivals featured in San Francisco and is known for being Northern California’s largest music festival. The established late summer attraction draws a diverse mix of EDM talent. Outside Lands feels like a pop-up city with a mission to showcase the best of the Bay Area. In addition to the top-tier music played, Outside Lands has expanded, including a dedicated food and wine area, a comedy and podcast tent as well as much, much more.
The Untz Festival (Brown Valley) October
The Untz festival brings a diverse offering of underground bass music to central California for their very own music festival. The Untz have staked their ground in promoting the exploration of hidden talent. True to their reputation, lineups have helped their calling serving as blueprints for the best in up and coming bass music. If you’re looking for new and upcoming artists/sounds this is the place you want to be.
Snowglobe (Tahoe) – New Year’s Eve
Last but definitely not least on our list is Snowglobe. If you’re looking to escape to California’s colder climate for the holidays, you may want to book those New Year’s plans at the SnowGlobe Music Festival. Winter festivals have been growing quickly in popularity, and SnowGlobe’s focus on Lake Tahoe’s snowboarding and skiing have been a contributing factor to this popular trend. With an average of 10,000 attendees, the event has a cozier feel while simultaneously drawing in the main stage acts consistent with festivals much bigger.