Florida is big and populous, and it's becoming one of the nation's most popular places for musical gatherings of all sizes and descriptions. One reason we have easy access to huge concerts year-round is the warm weather. We don't have to wait for the summer months to enjoy live tunes outdoors.
We gathered a list of a few in-state festivals well worth a mini-road trip that you'll want to catch in 2015.
Aura, Live Oak
March 6 to 8
Tickets: $150 to $180
Live Oak, a wild and woodsy area adjacent to the famed Suwannee River, provides one of the loveliest settings in the nation when it comes to immersing oneself in the great outdoors. Set in the midst of 800 acres of moss-draped oaks and scenic cypress trees, it epitomizes the spirit of old Florida, the way we once were before condos and shopping centers crowded out our natural environs.
The venue is ideal too: a sprawling meadow and a natural amphitheater offer great vantage points for all festivalgoers who want to get reasonably close to the entertainers. And Aura provides a lot of entertainment. Jamtronica is huge at this fest. But you can catch acts that not only show off extended jams or their adeptness at making traditional instruments sound like they came from synthesizers alone but also some jazzy funky vibing by the Mike Dillon Band and some rocking jams by Ghost Owl. Aura has a great energy and promises a loving time.
2015 Lineup: American Babies, Moe, the Disco Biscuits, Consider the Source, Cosby Sweater, Dopapod, Fusik, Ghost Owl, Jimkata, Ketchy Shuby, Kung Fu, McLovins, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, RAQ, Snarky Puppy, Stinky Pockets, the Main Squeeze, the Mantras, the Mike Dillon Band, Uproot Hootenanny
Gasparilla Music Festival, Tampa
March 7 to 8
OK, let's be honest. Most of us attend festivals to indulge in our hedonistic instincts and let loose in all ways possible. And if it's not all about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, it's a pretty good bet that at least a couple of those bases are covered.
So credit Gasparilla with having more altruistic intents, the desire to foster education and outreach programs in the local community year-round. So even while flooding the streets of downtown Tampa and reveling in the music and the mayhem, you can still feel like your celebratory spirit contributes to a good cause. This year, the lineup is seriously eclectic. There's indie pop-rock from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., gypsy chic sounds from Gogol Boredello, emotional pop by Gaslight Anthem, and the real funky stuff with Dumpstaphunk.
2015 Lineup: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Gaslight Anthem, Dumpstaphunk, Gogol Boredello, Hiss Goldne Messenger, Hot 8 Brass Band, Margo & the Pricetags, Miggs Band, Mt. Zion Baptist Gospel Choir, Packway Handle Band, Redfeather, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Selwyn Birchwood, the Budos Band, Trampled by Turtles, the Hip Abduction, Thomas Wynn & The Believers
Winter Music Conference, Miami
March 24 to 28
Currently in its 29th year, the Winter Music Conference ranks as one of the most venerable and accredited annual music gatherings in the universe. More than merely a destination for fans and the faithful, it's a key music industry confab that attracts well over 100K attendees from some 70 countries, along with thousands of leading artists and DJs representing all electronic subgenres. Concerts, specialized events, parties, seminars, and workshops populate the agenda, making the WMC not only party central but a singular celebration as well.
2015 Lineup: TBA
Wanee Festival, Live Oak
April 16 to 18
Tickets: $195 to $499
It's back to North Florida and the serene surroundings of Live Oak for this topnotch jam-band extravaganza. One of the most anticipated gatherings of the year, Wanee boasts an all-star lineup that's made it a must-do for the festival-faring legions. Also of note, this fest was created by the Allman Brothers, a band that regularly performed at the gathering. Though the band is no more, several Allman members are scheduled to appear in 2015. Might a reunion ensue? One never knows.
2015 Lineup: Gregg Allman, Gov't Mule, Cheap Trick, Widespread Panic, Butch Trucks and Very Special Friends, Earth Wind & Fire, Hot Tuna, Jaimo's Jasssz Band, JJ Grey and Mofro, Oteil and Friends, Zappa Plays Zappa, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon featuring Bill Payne, Ivan Neville's Dumpstafunk, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Eric Lindell and Company, Jacob Jeffries Band, and others
Welcome to Rockville, Jacksonville
April 25 to 26
Tickets: $109.50 to $475
Jacksonville's always been a rock 'n' roll town, one that boasts enthusiastic crowds, a rowdy reputation, and a nonstop appetite for celebrating the spirit of the South. So it makes perfect sense that it should also provide the setting for a veritable heavy-metal extravaganza.
Fair warning: Welcome to Rockville isn't the most hospitable place for the faint of heart or those who don't relish extraordinarily high volumes. Tune up those air guitars and man the mosh pits, and then get ready to roar! Onetime local boy Marilyn Manson'll be bringing the weird, Pretty Reckless will straight up rock, and who knows? Korn's Jonathan Davis may even fire up some of his newer dubstep fare.
2015 Lineup: Korn, Godsmack, Marilyn Manson, Halestorm, Mice & Men, Papa Roach, Queensryche, Testament, Hatebreed, Pretty Reckless, Slipknot, and others
Hangout Music Festival, Gulf Shores, Alabama
May 15 to 17
Tickets $249 to $1,599
Life's a beach. So here's a chance to trade your everyday woes for the feel of sand between your toes and enjoy some great music in the process. Past festivals have featured some amazing A-list artists like Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, the Black Keys, the Avett Brothers, Outkast, the Killers, Flaming Lips, and Matt & Kim. Though the lineup hasn't been announced for 2015, there's no reason to suspect this year will provide anything less. OK, so the fest is technically in Alabama, but it's just steps from Pensacola. All it takes is to hop on a shuttle and you'll find yourself there in no time. And did we mention it takes place on a beach? Oh, yeah, we did. Surf's up, dudes.
2015 Lineup: TBA
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