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

Star Tribune

Star Tribune

Alas, Winstock did not make the list this year.

The Winsted, Minnesota country music festival has come and gone already. We’re pleased to report, however, that while you have missed out on Kane Brown and Ashley McBryde, you didn’t miss out on any internet sensations. If Tailpipe Girl was there she enjoyed the show calmly and is now home safe, perhaps still getting IG likes on her one-year-anniversary-of-virality.

But while the odes to driving with the windows down that blasted at the festival are gone for another year, you can still feel that special feeling on your way to other festivals. Below are some of this summer’s best drivable music festivals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

Summerfest - June 26-30, July 2-7, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Drive: 5 hours
Lineup highlights: Willie Nelson, Dawes, The Head and the Heart, Billie Eilish, Saint Paul and the Broken Bones, Lil Wayne, Bon Iver, Lionel Richie, Lizzo, Chaka Khan
Tickets: $10-$57
Why go? The “biggest music festival in the world?” Maybe. The most accessible price-wise? Perhaps. The only festival this summer to feature both JLo and Jason Aldean as headliners? Definitely.

Taste of Chicago – July 10-14, Chicago, Illinois
Drive: 6.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Courtney Barnett, De La Soul, The Strumbellas
Tickets: $20-$40
Why go? First and foremost, Taste of Chicago is a food festival. But who doesn’t need some background music when you’re noshing? Every night you get one or two openers and a headliner. Grab your ideal snacks and sit down — there’s no need to run back and forth between stages at this one.

80/35 - July 12-13, Des Moines, Iowa
Drive: 3.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Portugal, The Man, the Beths, Elle King, Lissie, Liz Phair
Tickets: $50-$90
Why go? Promising to expose the culture of Des Moines, the 80/35 website lists “breathtaking breakdancing performances” as a feature of this year’s fest. If you can’t make Rock the Garden this year, here’s another chance to see the Beths.

Summer Jam – July 18-20, Shakopee, Minnesota
Drive: .5 hours
Lineup highlights: Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, Tim McGraw, Pitbull, Hobo Johnson
Tickets: $149-$249
Why go? With no Warped Tour on the agenda this year, you have to get out to Shakopee at some point. What’s more, VIP tickets come with a dinner buffet.

Rock Fest – July 18-20, Cadott, Wisconsin
Drive: 2 hours
Lineup highlights: Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Five Finger Death Punch, Evanescence
Tickets: $89 and up
Why go? The tagline of Rock Fest is “where we just rock.” So if you like to rock, this is apparently the place to just do it. There is also a 100-ticket limit per customer; rocking with friends is highly encouraged.

Country Jam USA - July 18-20, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Drive: 1.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Jake Owen, Maren Morris, the Charlie Daniels Band
Tickets: $99-$179
Why go? One lineup, two beloved Keiths! Since we missed Winstock, this is your next shot at a drivable country fest. Plus, it looks like they … added three whole women to the lineup this year.

Pitchfork Music Festival – July 19-21, Chicago, Illinois
Drive: 6.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Haim, Mavis Staples, Isley Brothers, Belle and Sebastian, Kurt Vile, Robyn, Whitney, Charlie XCX, Clairo, Snail Mail
Tickets: $85-$190
Why go? There’s no way you’re giving up your same-night Lizzo tickets to see Charlie XCX at First Ave this fall, right? Better see her here instead. Featuring some of the hippest acts spread out over three days, this in-part curated-by-critics festival is always a steady bet.

WE Fest – August 1-4, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Drive: 3.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Chris Stapleton, Billy Currington, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes
Tickets: $90-$175
Why go? The Detroit Lakes-based bash claims it's the largest country festival in America. It also beats Country Jam this year (it is a competition) with FIVE women on the lineup.

Lollapalooza – August 1-4, Chicago, Illinois
Drive: 6.5 hours
Lineup highlights: The Strokes, Gary Clark Jr., Rüfüs Du Sol, Hozier, King Princess, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, Janelle Monae, San Holo, Mitski, Sharon Van Etten
Tickets: $130-$340
Why go? Another year, another Lolla lineup—whether you tend to be impressed by that or not. While Gary Clark Jr.! Mitski! you’re in the neighborhood, there’s a lot to do in Chicago. You know that, right?

Hinterland Music Festival - August 2-4, Saint Charles, Iowa
Drive: 4 hours
Lineup highlights: Jason Isbell, Jade Bird, Hozier, Kacey Musgraves, Maggie Rogers, Brandi Carlile, Hippo Campus
Tickets: $59-$135
Why go? Behold, the indie high schooler’s dream line-up. While decidedly not flashy, this Iowa fest boasts a solid indie and alt-rock lineup. Good lyrics, good voices.

Wild Waters – August 16, Duluth, MN
Drive: 2.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Atmosphere, Doomtree, Cloud Cult, Low, Jeremy Messersmith, Dem Atlas, The Lioness, War Bonnet, DJ Keezy
Tickets: $33
Why go? Put on by Save the Boundary Waters, a portion of this first-ever festival’s ticket costs will benefit preservation group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. One night only and far enough away that you can camp if you want to … but you don’t have to.

Mamby on the Beach - August 23-24, Chicago, Illinois.
Drive: 6.5 hours
Lineup highlights: Brockhampton, Santigold, Noname, Troye Sivan, Sylvan Esso
Tickets: $69-$159
Why go? As it stands, a lot of people haven’t heard of Mamby on the Beach. Year after year it gets a little more popular, and soon it might be too popular. You like to get ahead of the curve, right?