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Magnetic's Top 9 Major Music Festivals In North America

Festivals are back and there's more than ever. But not all are created equal; so here are our top 9 best music festivals in the United States (...and beyond).

Music festivals in North America, and the whole world, were hit pretty hard over the past years. While many of the smaller festivals were forced to close their doors (hopefully not forever), a few power players in the scene fought through the challenges and are back stronger than ever.

So let's dive into our list of the best major music festivals you can attend in North America.

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Juliana Bernstein - LIB 2015.
Electric Forest 2016
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CRSSD Festival 2020 Carl Cox

With the world opening back up again, it was a nice walk down memory lane recapping some of our favorite North American festivals. If you're hungry for more, keep an eye out for our upcoming list of some of the best smaller festivals...

But now that we've dug deep into our favorite festivals, let's go a bit further into what exactly makes music festivals such a unique and timeless experience.

What Is A Music Festival?

The dictionary would describe festivals are a gathering of people centered around music and experiences, typically hosted for a weekend or more. The artists booked for the weekend, known as a lineup, can vary wildly; sometimes spanning every genre under the sun while other festivals carve out their niche by only booking artists of a specific genre or vibe. 

But to me, festivals are so much more than what a dictionary would define it as...

Music festivals are a communion of cultures, people, ideas and energies and are a celebration and expression of all of the above. They allow you to be completely yourself and escape the hum-drum of daily life back in the 'real world.' 

No other place than a festival to you have the opportunity to mingle with so many different varieties of people; all of whom are completely in their element. 

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Every music festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can never be replicated and that's what makes attending festivals such an amazing experience. It's a place to discover new music and new facets of yourself, and it's a shame so many people never discover those facets of themselves that only such an experience can reveal. 

Music festivals were popularized throughout the 1960s and 70s once the Woodstock ethos began to take hold throughout the youth culture of the time. While Woodstock was by no means the nation's first music festival, it certainly showed the country the demand for such an event and experience. 

Once the idea of young people coming together to celebrate a similar vibe, energy, ethos, and a heavy dose of hedonism, took hold, the profit motive was evident and it took less than a decade before the conventional music festival model we know today became profitable.

But I think the root cause of music festivals ever-increasing popularity goes a bit deeper than that. 

Throughout the 21st century, the generation of would-be festival goers are groomed and expected to be cogs in the wheel of machines much better than themselves. It's a massive weight on the shoulders of our generation to repeatedly rinse and repeat the daily tasks needed to push the wheels of capitalism forward.

Festivals are a direct rejection and antithesis to the monotony of the daily grind.

They are a unique place in which the only cares you have are set times and eating enough calories to be able to dance all night. The provide a headspace and platform in which you can explore and create whatever image of yourself you want for your real-life self (instead of through online avatars and gamer tags).

Whether subconsciously or with the utmost intention, that is why music festivals have become so popular and show no signs of slowing down. This fact is ever more evident by the increasing number of older-aged attendees one sees throughout the festival grounds. 

We are all looking for an escape that only festivals provide, and this is not something bound by age, race, music preference, or occupation. 

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