The Essential 2016 Country Music Festival Guide

The Essential 2016 Country Music Festival Guide

From coast to coast, there’s a festival for everyone, boasting the biggest names in the format, from hot contemporary stars to classic country legends. But don’t forget, these festivals are also a great opportunity to meet and hear some of the brightest up-and-coming local, regional and national talent, so get there early.

And check, check, then triple-check that you have your tickets, credentials AND CAMERA! You won’t want to miss one bit of the action or that once-in-a-lifetime photo op with Keith Urban.

Prices noted include single-day and multiple-day admission for music. Check festival websites for pricing.

The 2016 Nash Country Daily Guide to the Essential Country Music Festivals


When What, Where, Wallet Who & What’s Up
15–17 30A Songwriters Festival
Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
Hayes Carll, Chely Wright, Leigh Nash, Bobby Bare, Jr., Kristian Bush, Jim Lauderdale, Jackson Browne, Grace Potter, Chuck Wicks, Shawn Mullins, Kim Richey, Jay Farrar, Drew Holcomb, Kelsey Waldon, Jeffrey Steele, Deana Carter, and many, many more.
16–23 The Country Music Cruise
Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman
The 2016 cruise is already sold out. But now is the time to sign up for next year’s show. Here’s 2017’s lineup:

Vince Gill, Charley Pride, The Oak Ridge Boys, Brenda Lee, Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker, Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley, Dailey & Vincent, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers, Wade Hayes, Jo-El Sonnier, Sylvia, Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys and Grand Ole Opry at Sea – A Very Special Performance Event

22–26 Crash My Playa
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Cole Swindell, Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch, Brett Eldredge, Chris Stapleton and Craig Campbell
27–31 Castaway with Southern Ground
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Zac Brown Band, Kacey Musgraves, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Dawes, The Wailers and others
30 Southern Jam 2016
Boca Raton, Fla.
Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin
31–FEB. 7 Cayamo: A Journey Through Song
Miami, St. Maarten, Tortola
John Prine, Jason Isbell, John Hiatt, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Steve Earle, The Brothers Landreth and others

This year’s ship is fully booked, but there is a waiting list.

7–11 The Outlaw Country Cruise
Miami, Grand Cayman
Blackberry Smoke, The Mavericks, Lucinda Williams, Bobby Bare, Steve Earle, Shooter Jennings and others

This year’s ship is fully booked, but there is a waiting list.

1–20 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Houston, Texas
The Band Perry, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Brett Eldredge, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, Miranda Lambert, Billy Currington, Cole Swindell and others
3–13 Florida Strawberry Festival
Plant City, Fla.
Cole Swindell, The Band Perry, Lonestar, Shenandoah, Merle Haggard, Tanya Tucker, Charley Pride and others
11–13 CMC Rocks QLD 2016
Willowbank, Queensland, Australia
Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Cam, Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore, Lee Brice, Kelsea Ballerini and others
1–3 ACM Party For a Cause Festival
Las Vegas
Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Frankie Ballard, Kelsea Ballerini, Lee Brice, Cam, Brett Eldredge, Sam Hunt, Chris Janson, Dustin Lynch, Martina McBride, Kip Moore, Kellie Pickler, Chase Rice, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Maddie & Tae, Old Dominion and others
7–9 SpringJam
Panama City Beach, Fla.
Chris Young, Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts, Frankie Ballard, Jerrod Niemann, Kelsea Ballerini, Cam, Parmalee, Brothers Osborne, Drake White and the Big Fire, RaeLynn, Old Dominion, Blackjack Billy, Jamie Lynn Spears, Kirstie Lovelady, Mo Pitney, Them Dirty Roses and Chuck Wicks
7–10 Country Thunder Arizona
Florence, Ariz.
Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Kip Moore, Jake Owen, Randy Houser and others

Get your summer partying off to an early start.

15–17 Tortuga Music Festival
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Billy Currington, Kip Moore, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Randy Houser, Joe Nichols, Chris Janson, Cam and others

A portion of the proceeds goes directly to Conservation Village, an organization that works to ensure ocean conservation and sustainable fishing.

18–23 Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival
Stephenville, Texas
Randy Rogers Band, Josh Abbott Band, William Clark Green, Reckless Kelly, Turnpike Troubadours, American Aquarium, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sam Riggs, Cody Canada and the Departed, Bart Crow, Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen and others
27–30 Suwanee River Jam
Live Oak, Fla.
Chase Rice, Clay Walker, Kellie Pickler, Chris Janson, John Michael Montgomery, LOCASH, Lee Greenwood, Cowboy Troy, Big Smo and others
29–May 1 Las Cruces Country Music Festival
Las Cruces, N.M.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, David Nail, Lee Ann Womack, Cam, Rick Trevino, Aaron Watson and others
29–May 1 Stagecoach Festival
Indio, Calif.
Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, John Fogerty, Rodney Crowell, Chris Young, Carrie Underwood, Dustin Lynch, Dale Watson, A Thousand Horses, Aaron Watson, Amanda Shires, Aubrie Sellers, Billy Joe Shaver and others

Now in its tenth year of existence, the Stagecoach Festival (from the people behind Coachella) has one of the most eclectic lineups of major country stars and Americana/roots favorites.

4–8 Key West Songwriter’s Festival
Key West, Fla.
Jake Owen, Robert Earl Keen, Rhett Akins, Natalie Hemby, Jack Ingram, Lori McKenna, American Young, Love and Theft, Aaron Lewis, Jason Michael Carroll, and many, many others.
26–29 Tree Town Music Festival
Forest City, Iowa
Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Sam Hunt, Jake Owen, Kelsea Ballerini, Craig Morgan, Chris Janson, Jana Kramer, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Morgan Frazier and others

No surprise that they love some country music in the Heartland, and this Iowa festival brings the top-tier talent as well as the hottest rising stars.

27–29 Bayou Country Superfest
Baton Rouge, La.
Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, Randy Rogers Band and others

You don’t have to wear your purple and gold to attend this massive Memorial Day weekend festival at LSU Tiger Stadium; you just have to be ready to let them bon temps roll.

27–29 Country 500: The Great American Music Fest at Daytona
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and 40 other stars.
3–4 Rock the South
Cullman, Ala.
Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, John Michael Montgomery, Kelsea Ballerini, Joe Diffie, Kane Brown and others.

The festival started in 2012 as a way to celebrate recovery and rebuilding after a tornado “rocked” the area in 2011. In 2014, more than $50,000 was raised for local charities.

3–5 Country Summer
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Billy Currington, Frankie Ballard, Old Dominion, The Band Perry, Kip Moore, Chase Rice, Chase Bryant, Lady Antebellum, Craig Morgan, Chris Janson and others
9–11 Blue Ox Music Festival
Eau Claire, Wis.
Railroad Earth, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Greensky Bluegrass, Del Mccoury Band with Very Special Guests, The Wood Brothers, Sam Bush, Pert Near Sandstone, Shovels & Rope, Leftover Salmon, Blitzen Trapper, Nikki Lane, Jeff Austin Band, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, The Cactus Blossoms, Head For the Hills, Charlie Parr, The Big Wu, Sierra Hull, Whiskey Shivers, Dead Winter Carpenters, Useful Jenkins, The Last Revel, Ginstrings, Tin Can Gin, and Evergreen Grass Band
9–12 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Manchester, Tenn.
More than 150 musicians, bands and comedians will perform across 12 stages, including a country music roster of Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt and Jason Isbell. Ed Helms and The Bluegrass Situation will mark their fourth year at Bonnaroo with their SuperJam that features John Moreland, Sara Watkins, The Wood Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers and Sam Bush Band.
9–12 CMA Music Festival
Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams Jr. and others.

For an immersive country music experience like no other, downtown Nashville is the place to be in June.

10–12 Carolina Country Music Fest
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, Jake Owen, A Thousand Horses, Michael Ray and others

Pack your sunscreen and flip-flops—the $6.4 million Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is the place to be for the inaugural Carolina Country Music Festival.

10–12 Taste of Country Music Festival
Hunter Mountain, N.Y.
Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Gary Allan, Frankie Ballard, Big & Rich, Eric Paslay, Chris Janson, The Cadillac Three, Old Dominion and others

Going into its fourth year, this festival has a wide range of attractions and camping options for the country music fan.

14–18 Country USA Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wis.
Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Maddie & Tae, Thomas Rhett, Chris Janson, Dan & Shay, and others
16–18 Bighorn Country USA Camping & Music Festival
Sheridan, Wyo.
Little Texas, Drake White, Chase Bryant, Blackjack Billy, Darryl Worley, Canaan Smith and others
16–19 Country Fest
Cadott, Wis.
Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Kip Moore, Randy Houser, Jerrod Niemann, Maddie & Tae, Frankie Ballard and others

Wisconsin country fans have numerous festival options in the month of June, and this one combines superstar acts with local favorites playing on side stages.

17–18 Moondance Jammin Country Fest
Walker, Minn.
Dierks Bentley, Travis Tritt, Randy Houser, Chris Janson and others

For those who want to get the good times off to an early start, check out the pre-Jam party the night before. Details on the website.

CANCELLED Feb. 8 17–19 FarmBorough
Randall’s Island, New York City
From June 17-19, fans will converge on two stages in Randalls’ Island Park for headliners Jason Aldean, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, as well as a supporting lineup that includes Brooks & Dunn, Brantley Gilbert, Thomas Rhett, A Thousand Horses, Billy Currington, Lonestar, Kacey Musgraves, David Nail, Eric Paslay and Ryan Kinder.
17–19 Windy City LakeShake
Lady Antebellum, Sam Hunt, Kacey Musgraves, Jana Kramer, Tim McGraw, Mo Pitney, Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett and others

It’s the city’s only major country music festival, set against the backdrop of the great Chicago skyline.

23–25 Kicker Country Stampede
Manhattan, Kan.
Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Jake Owen and others

More than 170,000 people attended the 2014 edition of this festival, held at Tuttle Creek State Park, within a day’s driving distance of Topeka, Wichita and Kansas City.

CANCELLED Feb. 8 24–26 Big Barrel Country Music Festival
The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del.
Ashley Monroe, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, Jr., Jason Isbell, Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Brothers Osborne, Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Eli Young Band, Jerrod Niemann and others

You’ll be jamming and dancing at the Dover International Speedway, a regular stop on the NASCAR circuit.

29–JULY 3 & JULY 5–10 SummerFest
Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Frankie Ballard. More country artists will be announced for the other stages in March and April.

The Guinness-certified World’s Largest Music Festival spans 11 days, incorporates more than 800 acts and features attendees from 40-plus countries.

30–JULY 3 Dauphin’s Countryfest
Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
Dwight Yoakam, Chris Janson, Merle Haggard, Thomas Rhett, Lady Antebellum, Dallas Smith, Dean Brody and others

Besides outstanding music, the festival offers contests and activities with cool prizes for winners. Kids ages 3–12 get in free when accompanied by an adult.

30–JULY 2 Jam In the Valley
Varysburg, N.Y.
Easton Corbin, Sam Hunt, Ray Scott, Old Dominion, Ray Scott and others.
CANCELLED March 24 1–3 Dega Jam – Talladega Superspeedway
Lincoln, Ala.
Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Kid Rock, Hank Williams, Jr., Billy Currington, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lee Brice, Martina McBride, Kip Moore, Gary Allan, Tyler Farr, Dwight Yoakam, Frankie Ballard, Easton Corbin, Montgomery Gentry, Sara Evans, Marty Stuart, Jamey Johnson, Chase Rice, Chris Janson, Brothers Osborne, Brandy Clark, Eli Young Band, John Anderson and many others
7–9 Country Concert
Fort Loramie, Ohio
Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Kacey Musgraves, Thomas Rhett, Big & Rich, Chris Janson, Dustin Lynch and others
7–10 Hodag Country Festival
Rhinelander, Wis.
Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen, Cam, Jana Kramer, Terri Clark, Montgomery Gentry, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Maddie & Tae, Neal McCoy, Mickey Gilley, Chris Janson and others
8–10 Cavendish Beach Music Festival
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, The Band Perry, Old Dominion and others
14 Calgary Stampede
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
$60+ (concerts only)
Zac Brown Band

This is a full-fledged rodeo and concert event, much like Houston Rodeo or NFR in the stages, with all of the cowbells and whistles, held at the namesake Stampede Park.

14–17 Jamboree in the Hills
Morristown, Ohio
Brantley Gilbert, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Jake Owen, Tyler Farr, Maddie & Tae, Trace Adkins, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Billy Currington and others

This long-running country festival is nestled near Wheeling, W.Va., and Pittsburgh and includes the free-for-all Redneck Run to grab the best seats, so bring your sneakers.

15–17 Faster Horses
Brooklyn, Mich.
A Thousand Horses, Big & Rich, David Nail, Eric Church, Gary Allan, Granger Smith featuring Earl Dibbles, Jr., Jason Aldean, Joe Nichols, Jon Pardi, Lady Antebellum, LOCASH, Sam Hunt, Travis Tritt and others
15–17 Windy City Smokeout
Chase Rice, Billy Currington, Old Dominion, Jessie James Decker, Big & Rich with special guest Cowboy Troy, Corey Smith, Frankie Ballard, Phil Vassar, Whiskey Myers, Walker County, Whiskey Jam and others
21–23 Country Jam Wisconsin
Eau Claire, Wis.
Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, The Band Perry, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Eli Young Band, The Cadillac Three and others
21–23 Night In the Country
Yerington, Nev.
Tyler Farr, Kip Moore, Chase Rice, LOCASH and others

Nevada’s longest-running Country Music Festival, held away from the big city lights under the beautiful Nevada sky. 100% of proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mason Valley.

21–24 Country Thunder Wisconsin
Twin Lakes, Wis.
Eric Church, Chris Young, Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, A Thousand Horses, Chris Janson, Joe Diffie, Parmalee, Chase Bryant, The Bellamy Brothers and others

If you couldn’t make the earlier Country Thunder, you have another chance to experience the fun and magic in this beautiful setting.

23 Lost Highway
San Manuel Ampitheater, San Bernardino, Calif.
Brantley Gilbert, Social Distortion, Justin Moore, Eagles of Death Metal, Chevy Metal, Face to Face, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tony Joe White, Colt Ford, Paul Cauthen and others

Full festival with multiple stages, motorcycle shows, massive vendor village, beer garden, etc. Kids under 10 Free with Festival General Admission Ticket

29–31 Cape Blanco
Sixes, Ore.
Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Kenny Chesney, Tyler Farr, Chase, A Thousand Horses and others
29–31 Oregon Jamboree
Sweet Home, Ore.
Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, Chase Bryant, Old Dominion, Randy Houser and others

The 21-year-old Jamboree is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with camping available for attendees and fishing, hunting, rock climbing and more within reach. That is, if you can pull yourself away from the music.

29–31 Watershed Music and Camping Festival (see Sep. 5–7 info)
George, Wash.
A Thousand Horses, Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, David Nail, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Jon Pardi, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Merle Haggard, Neal McCoy, RaeLynn and Tyler Farr
4–6 Country on the River
Prairie du Chien, Wis.
Lee Brice, Kid Rock, Billy Currington, Eli Young Band, Montgomery Gentry, Joe Nichols, Eric Paslay, Swon Brothers, LOCASH, Granger Smith and others
4–6 WE Fest
Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Lee Brice, Billy Currington, Joe Nichols, Gary Allan, Montgomery Gentry and others

Head to Detroit Lakes in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes (get directions) for this 30-year-old gathering, possibly country music’s northernmost festival in the United States.

4–7 Boots and Hearts
Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada
Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Chase Rice, Cam, Emerson Drive and others

Billed as the largest country festival in Canada, Boots and Hearts combines established superstars with exciting new talents and regional favorites.

5–7 Watershed Music and Camping Festival (see Aug. 29–31 info)
George, Wash.
A Thousand Horses, Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, David Nail, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Jon Pardi, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Merle Haggard, RaeLynn and Travis Tritt
12–14 Willamette Country Music Festival
Brownsville, Ore.
Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Miranda Lambert, Cole Swindell, Easton Corbin, The Cadillac Three, Chris Lane, Brothers Osborne and others – Hosted by Pam Tillis and Amy Clawson

Nestled between Eugene and Salem, Brownsville, Ore., also served as the setting for the fictional town in the film Stand by Me.

19–21 Country Thunder Alberta
Prairie Winds Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Big & Rich, Chris Young, Dustin Lynch, Chris Janson, Neal McCoy, Phil Vassar, Lindsay Ell and others.
2–4 Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam
Panama City Beach, Fla.
Brad Paisley, Jake Owen, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, The Band Perry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Granger Smith, Sara Evans, Tyler Farr, A Thousand Horses, Charles Esten, Neal McCoy, Mark Chesnutt, Darryl Worley, Colt Ford, Craig Campbell, Dylan Scott and others

The Jam might be your last chance to party for the summer, as it takes place Labor Day weekend.

20–25 Americana Music Festival & Conference
Nashville, Tenn.
Wynonna & the Big Noise, Sara Watkins, Shawn Mullins, Sunny Sweeney, Bart Crow, Green River Ordinance, Joe Purdy, John Paul White and others

For four nights, September 20–25, the Americana Music Festival will feature approximately 180 live performances at over nine music venues in the vicinity of downtown Nashville.

22–24 Medicine Stone
Tahlequah, Okla.
Jason Bolland, Turnpike Troubadours, Randy Rogers Band, Billy Joe Shaver, Cody Canada & the Departed, Micky & the Motorcars, Reckless Kelly and others
24–25 Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival
Franklin, Tenn.
Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price, Brothers Osborne, Shaky Graves, Beck and others.
30–OCT 2 Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
Columbia, Mo.
Grace Potter, Jason Isbell, Avett Brothers, Ben Folds, Shovels & Rope, The Mavericks, Blues Traveler and others
30–OCT. 2 Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival
Las Vegas
Billy Currington, Brad Paisley, Chris Young, David Nail, Dustin Lynch, Granger Smith, Jana Kramer, Lindsay Ell, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt and Tyler Farr

Daily Dose

Thomas Rhett Will Never Take Touring for Granted

Thomas Rhett Will Never Take Touring for Granted

Thomas Rhett is ready to hit the road and Bring The Bar To You in 2022!

Starting in June, Thomas will kick-off his Bring The Bar To You tour with back to back shows in Gilford, New Hampshire with openers Parker McCollum and Conner Smith.

After going through the last two years, Thomas says, “I’ll never take for granted being able to come see y’all and I’m so fired up to play some of these new ones that were made with these nights in mind. I have a feeling things are going to get loud – I’m counting down the days already!”

Photo Courtesy of Thomas Rhett