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Driving with the windows down and the radio up is a staple for New England summer days — but sometimes those car speakers just don’t cut it. Likewise, it’s impossible to wrap up New England’s summer music scene in just one take. Whether you’re tuning in solely for the musical musings or want to add a show as a vacation activity, consider adding these New England music festivals to your travel planning playlist.
It’s an art escapade for the masses! Appreciate creativity in a dozen forms during the Solid Sound Festival, held in North Adams, Mass., at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. A popular hub of activity on a normal weekend, the opportunity to play at the museum entices many recognizable lineups. This festival has attracted headliners from 90s alternative band Wilco, to famous funnymen such as Michael Ian Black and Nick Offerman. To totally round out the chain of events, partake in offered activities that range anywhere from yoga to the Bread and Puppet theatre.
If travel plans are venturing closer to the coast, hit the perfect note on a Cape Cod getaway that includes the Hope Music Festival in Hyannis, Mass. Performing beneath the Cape Cod Melody Tent has enticed both emerging talent and seasoned legends, with appearances from artists who have played for The Cars, Boston, and the B52s. Since music and good causes are always in perfect harmony, this day of tunes is all the more enjoyable knowing the proceeds benefit Cape Cod Healthcare.
Get to the heart and soul of central Vermont at the Roots on the River Festival happening in Bellows Falls, Vt. While it’s small in size compared to other New England music festivals, that only leaves more room for the huge heart and talent that flocks to the stage and seats each year. Kick off the three-day series in a true Vermont way with a stop by the farmer’s market before grooving to the music throughout the rest of the weekend.
Take a deep dive into indie music at the All Roads Music Festival in Belfast, Maine. The festival day is bursting with performances, panels, and special events like The Songwriter’s Circle that gives festival-goers an inside peek at the artist's creative process. If the actual festival doesn’t tide you over with enough entertainment, each year the official Opening Party or Closing Party provides plenty of opportunities to eat, drink, and exchange obscure band recommendations.
For a lineup that puts the rock in Rockland, Maine, head south and swoon to the rhythm of the North Atlantic Blues Festival on a mid-July visit. Between guitar-heavy performances and smooth vocals, a weekend at this festival is enough to soothe the soul of any music fan. Plus, with a stage located right on the water, this is one of the New England music festivals that beckons a folding chair and no pause button.
Whether you see a name you idolize in the lineup or are on the hunt for new artists to add to the playlist, these New England music festivals contain melodies to spur the spirit of every music lover. No matter how catchy the tunes are, the best encore of all may be hitting hotel harmony with a comfortable space to retreat to after the stage lights dim.