Sometimes the only excuse needed to plan a vacation is to attend a live music event. While large cities typically have tons of venues—from hole-in-the-wall stages to stadium arenas—and can certainly make for a fun weekend getaway, there are plenty of other less obvious destinations that boast incredible events, concert halls, and festivals. Below are the perfect places to plan your next live music-focused trip.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach is best known for its more than 27 miles of white-sand beaches and emerald-green waters where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew’s Bay converge. With an average of 320 days of sunshine annually, the region has long been favored by travelers seeking an affordable beach vacation with year-round offerings for families, adventure-seekers and music lovers. From music festivals to annual events featuring top artists, everyone from jazz enthusiasts to country music lovers will find performance-packed fun in Panama City Beach.
The destination is home to the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, one of the top jazz music festivals in the country, in addition to the annual Gulf Coast Jam, which welcomes country music’s biggest stars to the emerald coast June 1-4, 2023. This year’s star-studded lineup features Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown and many more.
Concert Venues: Aaron Bessant Park, Frank Brown Park
Upcoming Shows: Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Aaron Bessant Park (April 19-23), Gulf Coast Jam in Frank Brown Park (June 1-4)
Sea Hear Now Festival in New Jersey – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
Labeled as one of the “top ten places to listen to music” by USA Today, the historic shore town of Asbury Park is home an incredible white sand beach, revitalized boardwalk eclectic restaurants and of course, one of the most anticipated music festivals of the year. Sea Hear Now takes concertgoers through two days of music, featuring more than 25 bands on three stages: two in the sand and one in the park, all on the iconic Asbury Park Waterfront. This year, visitors and locals will experience headline performances from household names such as,The Killers, Foo Fighters and Sheryl Crow, as East Coast surf legends and emerging male and female pros compete in a team surf contest, held between the Surf and Sand stages.
The fun doesn’t end there as guests can enjoy the best of the Jersey Shore boardwalk and restaurant fare with curated eats from Jersey, New York City, Philly and beyond! This year’s festival is set to take place on September 16th and 17th. New Jersey’s newest, month-long festival features all the talent, diversity and creativity this great state has to offer. Hosted by three incredible and unique cities, Atlantic City (June 4–11), Asbury Park (June 14–18) and Newark (June 21–25), the North To Shore festival will bring together 50+ venues for an over-the-top showcase of Jersey-wide excellence, aligned with Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy’s vision for a celebration worthy of the Garden State’s legacy in the arts and innovation. From concerts, to comedy, to movies, to presentations from leaders in tech and business, if you want it, they got it. Best of all, we’re featuring New Jersey’s undiscovered talent who will prove to you why you should know their names. These rising stars will be joined by global headliners like Halsey, Santana, Bill Burr, Jay Wheeler, Stephen Colbert, Alanis Morissette, Marisa Monte, Demi Lovato, Daymond John, Natalie Merchant, The Smithereens, Southside Johnny, Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and more. This lineup highlights New Jersey’s own and those who know that the Garden State is the place to be seen.
Concert Venues: Asbury Park, Atlantic City and Newark
Upcoming Shows: Sea.Hear.Now 2023 is being held September 16-17 in Asbury Park, North to Shore will be held in Atlantic City (June 4–11), in Asbury Park (June 14–18), and in Newark (June 21–25)
Providence, Rhode Island
PVDFest – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
PVDFest, Providence’s signature arts festival, happening September 8-10, 2023. PVDFest 2023 will bring the City together once again to celebrate Providence’s world-renowned artistic, cultural, and culinary communities. Since debuting in 2015, PVDFest has featured over 4,800 artists, performers, and curators, and has brought in596,000+ attendees during the festival weekend. PVDFest continues to grow each year, providing new and exciting ways to bring people together through the arts and embracing both local and global talent in a way that is uniquely Providence.
Upcoming Shows: PVDFest 2023, September 8-10
Reggae SumFest in Jamaica – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
As the home of reggae, dancehall, and other genres of Jamaican music, there are endless live concerts, shows, and festivals that fill the Jamaican event calendar each year, yet locals know July is the best time to be on island because that is when the Reggae SumFest and Dream Weekend festivals come to town. As the premiere reggae and dancehall festivals in the Caribbean, they are unforgettable experiences every music lover should have atleast once in their lifetime. Come and feel the vibe of these performances while being in the land of the music’s origin.
July 16th through 22nd, Reggae SumFest comes to town, which is Jamaica’s leading festival dedicated to showcasing the island’s indigenous reggae music. Dubbed “Our Music, Our Festival” this major outdoor concert showcases the biggest Jamaican reggae and dancehall artists every summer in Montego Bay. It’s a week-long event and concert nights go until the break of day. The festival started in 1993 and has featured a variety of world renowned artistes such as Damion ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, Ziggy Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Buju Banton, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Kanye West, Usher, Beres Hammond, Freddie McGregor, Sean Paul, Spice, Chronixx, Nicki Minaj and many others.
Less than a week later, Dream Weekend begins on July 28. Dream Weekend is a five-day experience of non-stop partying along the breathtaking 7-mile beach in Negril. The kinetic energy at these parties is unmatched, several happening each day at various radiant venues.Considered to be the Caribbean’s largest party experience, this week-long event features entertainment by top artistes and DJs from all genres of music.Dancehall is at the forefront of all events while including elements of popular music genres such as pop, house, hip hop, rap, and soca. When there isn’t the excitement of a big music festival in the air, you can catch Jamaica’s music superstars at any number of pop-up or annual events around the island. They’re also regulars at some of the popular sports bars and music lounges where lucky visitors might catch an intimate acoustic performance or live set.
Concert Venues: Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex, in Montego Bay & Long Bay Beach Park in Negril
Upcoming Shows: Reggae SumFest July 16-22, & Dream Weekend July 28 – August 1
Norfolk Skyline during Patriotic Fest – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
Norfolk, Virginia is the ultimate destination for those looking for a music-filled summer weekend getaway, offering the perfect combination of summer fun, delicious cuisine, and of course, great music. On Friday May 26, the Atlantic Union Bank 2023 Patriotic Festival in Town Point Park begins! This three-day festival is packed full of events that celebrate and honor our U.S Military. Experience military displays, exhibits and activities as well as performances from Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Cody Johnson, Walker Hayes, Corey Kent and Randy Houser.
Later on in August, the Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival comes to town. This is the area’s longest-running outdoor jazz festival and for the 40th annual edition, the festival features a star-studded cast of some of the biggest names on the international smooth jazz scene like Kim Waters and Kayla Waters, Keiko Matsui, Gerald Albright, Kandace Springs, Jazz Funk Soul, and Dave Koz. The two-day festival will be held Friday & Saturday, August 18 & 19, 2023 in a beautiful summertime setting at Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront.
Make sure to set aside some time to soak up the sun at one of Norfolk’s beaches or rent a jet ski, kayak or paddleboard. When it’s time to eat, you will find that delicious indie restaurants and bars are scattered all throughout Norfolk, like convivial Blanca, veteran owned Bold Mariner Brewing Company, or whimsical Mermaid Winery.
Concert Venue: Town Point Park
Upcoming Shows: Patriotic Festival, May 26-28 & Waterfront Jazz Festival, August 18 – 19
Lincoln Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
Capturing the imagination of the American West, Cheyenne, WY is a destination that will have travelers feeling like a modern-day cowboy or girl. A hot spot for live music along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the city is also home to a variety of venues and genres to fulfill your love of music. Held on July 21-30 and celebrating its 127th annual season, Cheyenne Frontier Days honors its authentic western roots with the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and celebration of Western heritage. In addition to a PRCA tournament style rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days also features the biggest names in rock and country music each evening with an extensive lineup for Frontier Nights. Performers include Epic Church with Paul Cauthen, Old Dominion with Chase Rice, Zach Bryan, Five Finger Death Punch with Papa Roach, Tim McGraw with Kip Moore, Jon Pardi with Carly Pearce and finally Cody Johnson with Whiskey Myers.
Those who miss Cheyenne Frontier Days can get their concert fix in The Lincoln, one of Cheyenne’s most iconic landmarks and a historic theater that plays host to performances year-round. Built in 1929, The Lincoln was the first theatre to play talking movies and has now turned into the epicenter of the growing livemusic scene and hub for arts, nightlife and vibrancy. Upcoming performers include hard-rock band Adelitas Way on March 31, Ice Cube on April 16, Soulja Boy on June 2, rock-and-roll country band Giovannie & The Hired Guns onJune 25 and bluegrass band The Dead South on July 21.
Concert Venues: Frontier Nights at Cheyenne Frontier Days, The Lincoln
Upcoming Shows: July 21-29 for Frontier Nights at Cheyenne Frontier Days, March 31, April 16, June 2, June 25 and July 21 at The Lincoln.
Outlaw Square in Deadwood – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
Entertaining guests since 1876, Historic Deadwood draws visitors worldwide to the Old West town that is just as wild today as it was when legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock roamed the streets. From casinos and concerts to museums and historic sites, this gold rush town offers a variety of entertainment for all travelers. A restaurant, casino, hotel and entertainment venue, Deadwood Mountain Grand has an upcoming concertlineup for all music goers. Performers include American rock band Grand Funk Railroad with special guest Jefferson Starship on April 13, country music singer Aaron Watson on April 27, British-American rock band Foreigner on May 7, rock band Three Dog Night on June 3, Kolby Cooper on June 30 and the Happy Together Tour featuring The Turtles, Little Anthony, Gary Puckett, The Vogues, The Classics IV and the Cowsills on August 27. Those looking for an outdoor live music experience will enjoy a whole summer of live music with Deadwood’s Outlaw Square. Located in the heart of Main Street, Outlaw Square plays hosts to a free Summer Concert Series. Each Wednesday night starting on May 31 and ending August 30, music enthusiasts can jam out to a variety of artists.
Concert Venues: Deadwood Mountain Grand, Outlaw Square
Upcoming Shows: April 13, April 27, May 7, June 3, June 30 and August 27 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand and each Wednesday from May 31-August 30 in Outlaw Square
Live music at Red’s – courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group
Mississippi is where America’s music was born, and no destination offers a more authentic experience for true music fans bound for the Great Americana Road Trip. The state’s Blues and Country Music Trails plot out iconic music history sites that can be anchored by several once-in-a-lifetime music festivals. In Tupelo every June, The King is honored by the best tribute performers in the business and thousands of dedicated fans in his hometown at the Tupelo Elvis Festival. Along the blues highway through the Delta, visitors can discover the crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil and even see a few sites that lay claim to his grave on the way to the JukeJoint Festival in Clarksdale, where for four days every May live blues pours out of venues and business all over this iconic small town. Pro-tip: check out Keep Cleveland Boring on Instagram for some of the most Spotify-famous new alt-country and modern Americana acts at local festivals like Dirtfest, Otherfest or Anotherfest. Down in the pines of eastern Mississippi in Meridian, America’s longest running music festival, the Jimmie Rodgers Festival, will celebrate its 70th year May 7-14 and will feature a robust line up of acts with rising neotraditional country star Paul Cauthen topping the bill.
Upcoming Shows: Juke Joint Festival April 13-16, Jimmie Rodgers Festival May 7-14, Tupelo Elvis Festival June 7-11