Best Music Festivals to Attend in 2023

Beale Street Music Festival

May 5-7, 2023 (Tom Lee Park in Memphis, Tennessee)

Highest Value Music Festival

Beale Street Music Festival is a part of the Memphis in May International Festival and is a three day event that has attracted 1.1 million visitors for an eclectic lineup that includes contemporary rock, blues, soul, and a dash of everything else.

This year’s line up is set to be announced in February – but we will update once it drops.

The iconic Blues Tent, a popular mainstay of the Beale Street Music Festival will be presented on Beale Street in Handy Park in 2023. The Memphis Tourism “Blues Stage on Beale” will be open to the public and offered free of charge. No ticket will be required for entry to Handy Park.

The move to Handy Park allows organizers to offer its famous blues lineup to a wider audience. The three main stages will be presented in Tom Lee Park as they have been in the past and festival ticket holders will have a reserved section seating at the “Blues Stage on Beale.”But the festival excels in more than its choice of artists. Starting at $165, the tickets to the festival run the average music lover significantly less than most festivals of its caliber. Compared to others on this list it can be seen clearly that this festival’s price is unbeatable. Regardless of your age, tastes, and financial situation, Beale Street Music Festival has something for you.

The very first Beale Street Music Festival was held in 1977 at the corner of Beale and Third. The same year, the very first Sunset Symphony was held, with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra performing on a smaller, unshaven and seldom used Tom Lee Park. The following year, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest was added as event mainstay and in 1990, the Guinness Book of World Records bestowed the honor of “the largest barbecue-cooking contest in the world” making it the “Super Bowl of Swine.”

Memphis in May is a month long festival that brings cultural events to community centers, museums, galleries, performing arts centers and schools throughout the city. Luncheons and lectures unite the resources of local government and professional cultural agencies with speakers, artists and celebrities from the honored country, opening doors for international commerce and exchange.

While the cornerstone events like the Beale Street Music Festival and World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest incorporate elements from the honored country’s culture, the International events pay special homage to the country’s past, present, and future. Ambassadors and Dignitaries from each honored country join in the fun by attending many of the Festival’s events, including a glamorous evening of dinner and dancing at the Memphis in May International Festival Gala.

The 2023 Honored Country is Malaysia.

Programming for each year’s salute varies depending on all the country has to offer, but has included extensive Education Programs, historical and cultural exhibits, performances and commercial programs.

Through the years, Memphis in May has played host to international Ambassadors, exhibits and performance troupes from 39 countries, including Japan (1977 & 1986), Canada (1978 & 2016), Germany (1979), Venezuela (1980), Egypt (1981), The Netherlands (1982 & 2001), Israel (1983), Mexico (1984), Australia (1985), China (1987), The United Kingdom (1988), Kenya (1989), France (1990), New Zealand (1991), Italy (1992), Russia (1993), Cote d’Ivoire (1994), Thailand (1995), Brazil (1997), Portugal (1998), Morocco (1999), India (2000), Argentina (2002), South Korea (2003), South Africa (2004), Ireland (2005), Costa Rica (2006), Spain (2007), Turkey (2008), Chile (2009), Tunisia (2010), Belgium (2011), The Philippines (2012), Sweden (2013), Panama (2014), Poland (2015), Colombia (2017), Czech Republic (2018), City of Memphis (bicentennial celebration in 2019), and Republic of Ghana (2022).

Tickets: Starting at $165

Hangout Music Fest

May 19-21, 2023 (Gulf Shores Public Beach, Gulf Shores, Alabama)

The Quintessential Beach Music Festival Vacation Experience

Hangout Music Fest is part music festival and part immersive travel experience, located on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, festival-goers get a chance to take part in a variety of activities and events that help to make Hangout a true music vacation.

This year’s lineup headliners include Red Hot Chili Peppers, SZA, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Paramore and Lil Nas X to name a few and just from these you can see how diverse the lineup is when it comes to musical genres.

One of our favorite parts about this festival is that the lower billed acts are usually undiscovered gems that will soon be making waves later in the season – or even future festivals. We saw Lizzo there in 2016 on their BMI Mermaid Stage, and look at her now!! This year we have HoneyLuv, The Vegabonds, Sam Fischer, Nostalgix, and Charlotte Sands are on our radar this year.

Beyond the music lineup, Hangout is a one-of-a-kind experiential festival featuring stage-side VIP pools, hammocks lining the beach, majestic oceanside views and plenty of activities for attendees including beach volleyball, disco skating at a full-sized roller rink, dance parties by the water and much more. One year there were even gigantic flamingo floats set out for lounging around the festival grounds.

This year saw the launch of a new program, Hangout Beach Vacation packages means attendees can spend less time searching for accommodations and more time dreaming of white sands, crystal clear water, and their favorite artists playing on the beach at sunset. Fans can pick from a range of housing options at every price point, from beachfront suites and villas overlooking the Gulf State Park. It’s the kind of plug-and-play energy that beach vacations are made of. An on-site host will take care of all guest needs from check-in to check-out, and a daily cleaning service is on call throughout the four-day stay for many of the accommodation options.

For those looking to flex, Hangout House has you covered. Located at the Phoenix All Suites, Hangout House is right alongside the festival footprint so you aren’t missing a single minute of the Hangout experience. This includes majestic ocean views and a private festival entrance from Hangout House directly into the Surf Stage VIP with unlimited re-entry. Every suite at Hangout House also overlooks the Surf Stage where guests can catch the opening set from their balcony while enjoying a mimosa (or two) before hopping down to the festival. Hangout House packages will be available to purchase with either VIP or SUPER VIP tickets.

Hangout is more than just a festival, it’s the feeling of leaving it all behind you, kicking back with your best friends and listening to amazing music on the beachfront in one of North America’s most beautiful travel destinations. So give adulting a break and try paradise on for size. After all, you deserve it. 

Hangout Music Festival was founded in November 2009 by A.J. Niland, Shaul Zislin, and Lilly Zislin. The Zislins are the proprietors of “The Hangout”, the festival’s iconic namesake restaurant. The first festival took place in 2010 with headliners Trey Anastasio Band, Zac Brown Band, and John Legend. The acts and audience have been growing since.  No other location allows music fans the opportunity to hear three consecutive days of their favorite bands while experiencing mind, body and spirit rejuvenation on the beach.

Tickets: Starting at $319

CMA Fest

June 8-11, 2023 (Nashville, Tennessee)

The Longest-Running Country Music Festival

CMA Fest is the longest running Country music festival and has become Nashville’s signature Country Music event that hosts tens of thousands of fans just like you from all around the world to benefit music education. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the festival.

While this year’s lineup has yet to be announced, we expect the list to be the biggest and brightest that the festival has ever seen.

The numerous acts, big and small, enrich the festival’s experience and allow spectators to see the wide range of country music. CMA Fest’s rich history has made it one of the most remarkable and entertaining music festivals, bringing together artists and fans to the country music capitol of the world.

The Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience™ began in 1972 as Fan Fair®, which drew 5,000 fans to Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. In 1982, it was moved to the Nashville Fairgrounds.

Fan Fair underwent major changes in 2001. For the first time, the event was held over a long weekend (Thursday, June 14 to Sunday, June 17) instead of during the work week. At the same time, the festival moved from its long-time home at the fairgrounds to several sites clustered in downtown Nashville, including Nissan Stadium, the Nashville Convention Center, Bridgestone Arena, and Riverfront Park. The fairgrounds itself was converted to a temporary campground for attendees.

In 2004, the CMA renamed the event to the CMA Music Festival in order to change negative perceptions, embrace the CMA brand, and expand its appeal. Also in 2004, the ABC network televised the event as a two-hour special known as CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock

CMA Fest 2022 took over downtown Nashville in June for four days of sold-out shows and capacity crowds, along with surprise performances and unforgettable collaborations. The festival featured more than 260 acts and hosted more than 80,000 estimated visitors from all 50 states and 39 international countries. 

Unlike other festivals, CMA Fest performers donate their time to perform so ticket proceeds can directly benefit high-quality music education initiatives across the country through the CMA Foundation.Since 2006, a portion of proceeds from CMA Fest has been given to music education initiatives supporting students K-12 across the U.S. through the CMA Foundation.

Show Tickets: Starting at $234 (Daytime Stages/Most Outdoor Activities are Free & Open to the Public)

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