Top 10 Best USA alternative festivals 

Top 10 Best USA alternative festivals 

When one mentions alternative festivals, Burning Man is the first festival that comes to mind. However, Burning Man is not always easy to attend. Below are some of the best alternative festivals in the USA that are just as good as Burning Man, but easier to attend.  

When attending these festivals, it is always recommended that you remain in contact with your loved ones. This will be easily achieved when you purchase a USA prepaid SIM card.  

Burning Flipside, Rockdale 

Burning Flipside is an annual effigy burn that is based on the Burning Man Festival. The focus of Burning Flipside is making new friends and building community bonds. Attendees need to note that Burning Flipside is vehemently against commercialisation, so it is recommended that you pack your own supplies, which should include ample amounts of water as the festivities can get vigorous.  

Established: 1998. 

Date: May. 

Venue: Apache Fields, Rockdale, Texas. 

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: the Bella Peregrina Ranch, Antique Queens, and the IG&N Railroad Depot Museum. 

Tourist attractions: the First Baptist Church, the Meadowbrook Baptist Church, and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church. 

Places to stay: the Budget Host Inn and Suites Cameron, the Quality Inn Rockdale, and the Days Inn by Wyndham Rockdale Texas. 

Organisers: AAR,LLC 

Price: $151 

Pickathon, Portland 

If you are looking for a truly alternative music festival, then Pickathon is for you. It originally started as a festival that celebrated bluegrass music; however, over the years, the festival has welcomed the best of indie and folk music to be added to the lineup. The festival is well known for its environmental focus. Single use plastics are banned and ticket sales are capped at 3 500 to reduce the festivals environmental impact.  

Established: 1999. 

Date: August.  

Venue: Pendarvis Farm, Portland, Oregon. 

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: Lan Su Chinese Garden, Washington Park, International Rose Test Garden. 

Tourist attractions: Portland Japanese Garden, The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, Pittock Mansion. 

Places to stay: The Paramount Hotel Portland, The Mark Spencer Hotel, the Harlow Hotel. 

Organisers: Zale Schoenborn 

Price: $188 to $235. 

Electric Forest, Rothbury 

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has exploded to become one of the biggest music genres in the world. But not everybody can attend the Ultra Music Festival or Tomorrow Land. Electric Forest is an alternative EDM dance festival that is accessible and has grown in popularity over the years. Featuring up-and-coming EDM DJs and Jam Bands, Electronic Forest tickets sell out very quickly.  

Established: 2011. 

Date: Late June or Early July.  

Venue: Rothbury, Michigan.  

Theme: Fantasy Forest 

Things to do: the Arthur Hills Thoroughbred Golf Club, the Double JJ Resort. 

Tourist attractions: Rothbury Community Church, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church. 

Places to stay: the Comfort Inn Whitehall, the Rodeway Inn, and the Weathervane Inn. 

Organisers: Insomniac Events & Madison House Presents 

Price: $776.00 to $1,059.  

Desert Daze Festival, Moreno Beach 

Some forms of alternative music have very niche audiences. This is celebrated at the Desert Daze Festival where the best of Psych-Rock, Garage, and all of its derivatives are celebrated over a three-day festival. These must be something about the Colorado Desert. Like Coachella and Burning Man, the Desert Daze Festival is held on the outskirts of the desert.  

Established: 2012. 

Date: End of September – Beginning of October.  

Venue: Moreno Beach, California.  

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: Mecca of Sports Cards, Nitro Gaming Lounge, and the Regency Theater. 

Tourist attractions: Box Springs Mountain Reserve, The M Hike. 

Places to stay: the Hampton Inn and Suites Moreno Valley, the Ayres Hotel & Spa Moreno Valley/Riverside, Homestay Suites – Studios & Spas. 

Organisers: Desert Daze Music Festival Organising Committee.  

Price: $30-$40 (single day tickets), $60 (festival pass).  

Afropunk Fest, New York

The celebration of African American culture and industry figures (such as writers, directors, producers and musical artists) has gained significant momentum since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by the documentary, Afropunk, the Afropunk Fest in New York celebrates music, film, fashion, and art that are produced by alternative African American artists.  

Established: 2005.  

Date: Late August.  

Venue: Brooklyn Acadamy of Music.  

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: Prospect Park, Bushwick Collective Street Art, and the Brooklyn Brewery. 

Tourist attractions: the New York Transit Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 

Places to stay: 42 Hotel, Pod Brooklyn, The Lodge Red Hook. 

Organisers: Matthew Morgan. 

Price: $30 (Genral Admission), $60 (VIP). 

High Sierra, Quincy 

Another alternative festival set in California, attendees of the High Sierra festival can take a break from listening to alternative music by attending cinema nuvo movies, workshops and yoga classes. The High Sierra Festival is all about reconnecting with your inner being while disconnecting yourself from the outside world.  

Established: 1991. 

Date: Independance Day Weekend (July 4 weekend).  

Venue: Quincy, California.  

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: Taco Fly Co, Main Street Artists Gallery, and Plumas Arts. 

Tourist attractions: the Plumas National Forest, and the Plumas County Museum. 

Places to stay: the Sierra Sky Lodge, and the Gold Pan Lodge. 

Organisers: High Sierra Festival Organising Committee.  

Price: $70 (Single Day General Access), $200 (2 Day General Access Pass), $290 (3 Day General Access Pass), and $335 (4 Day General Access Pass). 

Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, Yet to be named location in Wisconsin 

Formed by The National’s Aaron Dressner and Justin Vernon (aka: Bon Iver) the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival has been a massive hit with indie music fans. However, the festival is not only limited to indie music, previous editions have seen the likes of James Blake, Erykah Badu, Paul Simon, Chance The Rapper, The Staves and Sharon Van Etten added to the headline acts. In 2018, festival organises said that the festival would be taking a year off in 2019 and would be relaunched at a new location in 2020. The Covid-19 Pandemic pushed this to 2022.  

Established: 2015. 

Date: December.  

Venue: 2023 Venue to be announced.  

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: the Wisconsin Deer Park, the Henry Vilas Zoo, and Noah’s Ark Water Park. 

Tourist attractions: the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Wisconsin State Capitol. 

Places to stay: the Lighthouse Inn – Two Rivers, the Harbor Winds Hotel, and the Super 8 by Wyndham Eagle River.   

Organisers: Aaron Dressner and Justin Vernon. 

Price: 2022 ticket prices are yet to be announced.  

Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, Los Angeles

A relative newcomer to the festival scene, Camp Flog Gnaw takes over Dodgers Stadium and puts on one of the biggest displays of alternative music in the USA. If the music is a bit too much for you, there is a ferris wheel and other carnival rides to help keep you entertained. 

Established: 2012. 

Date: Since 2018, the carnival has been held in November.  

Venue: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California. 

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: the Petersen Automotive Museum, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Universal Studios Hollywood. 

Tourist attractions: the Battleship USS Iowa Museum, the Griffith Observatory, and The Getty Center. 

Places to stay: the JJ Grand Hotel, the Kawada Hotel, and the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel. 

Organiser: Tyler, the Creator. 

Price: $482. 

Equinox Festival, Asheville

The original Woodstock music festival introduced the world to hippie culture, the torch of this culture has been carried on through the Equinox Festival (aka T.O.U.C.H Samadhi) which is held in Ashville, North Carolina. Attendees flock to the festival to hear the latest and best trance music tracks and to express themselves in all thing’s art and music. Prepare yourself for creative overload. 

Established: 2008. 

Date: September. 

Venue: Deerfields Retreat, Ashville, North Carolina.  

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: the Biltmore Winery at Antler Hill Village, the Western North Carolina Nature Center, and the Lexington Glassworks.  

Tourist attractions: the Biltmore Estate, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, and The North Carolina Arboretum.  

Places to stay: The Asheville Inn, The Residences at Biltmore, and Best Western Asheville Tunnel Road. 

Organisers: the Equinox Festival Organising Committee.  

Price: $325. 

Levitation, Austin

If spending the weekend on the outskirts of the Colorado Desert is not for you, then you should consider attending Levitation. Like Desert Daze, Levitation is a festival that celebrates the best in Psych-Rock, Garage, and all of its derivatives. The difference is that you are in middle of the capital of Texas.  

Established: 2007. 

Date: November. 

Venue: Carson Creek Ranch, Austin, Texas. 

Theme: There is no set theme.  

Things to do: the Austin Aquarium, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the Barton Springs Pool. 

Tourist attractions: the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the LBJ Presidential Library, and the Texas State Capitol. 

Places to stay: Adina II, the Hyatt House Austin/Downtown, Wyndham Garden Hotel Austin. 

Organisers: The Reverberation Appreciation Society 

Price: $221 (average price) 

When attending the best alternative festivals in the USA, you will not only hear the best alternative music that the USA has to offer, you will also embrace your creative side as it is a theme in all of the above festivals.  

Top 10 Best USA alternative festivals FAQ 

  • What is an alternative festival? 
    An alternative festival is a festival that celebrates music and art that is not considered main-stream.  
  • How many alternative festivals are held in the United States? 
    There are over 100 alternative festivals in the United States every year. 
  • What is the biggest USA alternative festivals? 
    The biggest alternative festival in the USA is the Burning Man festival.  
  • Which USA state has the most alternative festivals? 
    California is the state in the USA that has the most alternative festivals. 
  • What is the most popular alternative festival in the USA? 
    The most popular alternative festival in the USA is the Burning Man Festival.