Outdoor Music Fests in Tune for Summer

By Explore Minnesota

Music FestWith Minnesota’s wide assortment of outdoor music festivals—featuring jazz and blues, indie, reggae, hip hop, 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 going strong for more than 30 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, Poison, Def Leppard, Chicago 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 outside Ely in Winton.

For classical fans, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival in Winona features world-class musicians in June and July, and the Northern Lights Music Festival includes three weeks of concerts at different venues throughout the Iron Range.

New music festivals pop up regularly, so browse the events calendar for more finds.

Minnesota Music Fest Sampler

Late May, St. Paul: Soundset

Early June, Minneapolis: Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues Festival     

Mid-June, Walker: Moondance Jammin’ Country Fest

Late June, St. Paul: Twin Cities Jazz 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

Late July, Northfield: Vintage Band 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

Late August, Winton: Boundary Waters Blues Festival