Outdoor Music Fests in Tune for Summer
With Minnesota’s wide assortment of outdoor music festivals—featuring jazz and blues, indie, reggae, country, and classical—it’s easy to get out and groove to the sounds you like best.
At many of the non-urban music fests, camping and camaraderie are part of the experience. You can head out almost any summer weekend for a rockin’ good time. Check event websites for the latest news on who’s playing this year.
Some music festivals have been around for so long they’ve become Minnesota traditions. We Fest, held at the Soo Pass Ranch near Detroit Lakes, has been around more than 25 years and draws thousands of faithful fans with the biggest names in country music.
The Moondance Jam is a camping and classic rock fest held at Moondance Ranch near Walker. Prominent national acts that have appeared include Kiss, Stone Temple Pilots, Poison, Def Leppard, and REO Speedwagon.
The Twin Cities Jazz Festival brings local and national talent to downtown St. Paul every June. Performers have included Dave Brubeck, Spyro Gyra, Butch Thompson, and Chic Corea.
The landmark Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth is the backdrop for two terrific fests. The Bayfront Reggae and World Music Festival, in July, contributes some of its proceeds to help youth in Jamaica. The Bayfront Blues Festival in August features music stages and barbecue and Cajun food. Or try the smaller Boundary Waters Blues Festival near the Itasca County Fairgrounds in Grand Rapids.
The White Pine Festival attracts an audience to the St. Croix Valley area for classical music and poetry readings during June. Another classical option is the Minnesota Beethoven Festival in Winona, featuring world-class musicians in June and July.
The granddaddy of classical festivals is Sommerfest. The Minnesota Orchestra and guests perform concerts ranging from symphony, jazz, chamber, and rock. While Orchestra hall undergoes renovations in 2012, this popular series will take place at the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis.
New music festivals pop up regularly, so browse the events calendar for more finds.
Minnesota Music Fest Sampler
Late May, Geneva: Festi di Bella Fiore
Early June, Minneapolis: Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues Festival
Mid-June, Walker: Moondance Jammin’ Country Fest
Late June, St. Paul: Twin Cities Jazz Festival
Late June, Grand Rapids: Boundary Waters Blues Festival
July 1 to Mid-July, Aurora: Northern Lights Music Festival
Late June to Mid-July, Winona: Minnesota Beethoven Festival
Early July, Minneapolis: Basilica Block Party
Most of July, Minneapolis: Sommerfest
Mid-July, Walker: Moondance Jam
Mid-July, Duluth: Bayfront Reggae and World Music Festival
Late July, Hutchinson: RiverSong Music Festival
Early August, Detroit Lakes: We Fest
Early August, Lake Itasca: Lake Itasca Family Music Festival
Mid-August, Richmond: Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-time Music Festival
Mid-August, Duluth: Bayfront Blues Festival