Festivals

How Do You Festival? Your Guide to the Valley's Spring 2020 Music Festivals

Yes, you are.
Yes, you are. Benjamin Leatherman
click to enlarge Yes, you are. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Yes, you are.
Benjamin Leatherman
The temps are consistently above 70 degrees again, which means (among other things) that festival season in Phoenix is upon us. Between now and the beginning of the summer, the Valley will play host to music fests of all kinds: experimental, EDM, rock, folk, and country.

Which festivals should you prioritize? That all depends. Consult the following guide to determine the ones that are best suited for you.

Weezer will be playing Innings Festival. - JIM LOUVAU
Weezer will be playing Innings Festival.
Jim Louvau



Want to Celebrate Your Love of Baseball and Rock in the Same Place?

Innings Festival is the place to do so.

When? Friday, February 29, and Saturday, March 1

Where? Tempe Beach Park, 80 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe

What? Dad bands and every dad’s favorite sport collide in a two-day extravaganza right next to Tempe Town Lake. This year, headliners Dave Matthews Band and Weezer will be accompanied by acts such as Portugal. the Man, Death Cab for Cutie, ZZ Ward, and Dr. Dog.

As it coincides with spring training, Innings Festival has an entire area dedicated to baseball activities. If America’s pastime isn’t your thing (and you’re more into rock music), there’s still plenty to do, including pop-up record stores. When it comes to food, be ready to eat your fair share of hot dogs.

How much? Regular general admission is $69 per day, $159 for both. General admission-plus tickets are $168 per day, $266 for both. VIP and platinum admission are also available and include perks.

click to enlarge A fan is captivated by GRiZ at M3F. - KELSEE BECKER
A fan is captivated by GRiZ at M3F.
Kelsee Becker



Want to Feel the Grooves and Shake Your Groove Thang With Hippies, Tastemakers, and Indie Kids?

Head for this year’s M3F (formerly known as the McDowell Mountain Music Festival).

When? Friday, March 6, to Sunday, March 8

Where? Hance Park, 1134 North Central Avenue

What? This nonprofit music festival has been a favorite for indie music, electronica, and jam-band fans since it launched in 2004. The three-day event will feature acts like Bon Iver, LANY, and Rufus du Sol. Single-day passes are available, as are three-day tickets. With a laid-back atmosphere and enough food stands to satisfy every taste, there is a reason M3F is a local favorite year after year. It will offer VIP cabanas with perks like specialty cocktails and mainstage access.

How much? General admission is $80 to $85 per day and $155 for the weekend. VIP tickets are $190 per day, $475 for the entire festival.

click to enlarge Spend some time with some ostriches in Chandler. - CHANDLER CHAMBER OSTRICH FESTIVAL
Spend some time with some ostriches in Chandler.
Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival


Want to Hang Out With Some Big Birds While Shaking a Tail-Feather to ’80s and ’90s Acts?

Fly down to the southeast Valley for this year’s Chandler Ostrich Festival.

When? Friday, March 13, to Sunday, March 15

Where? Tumbleweed Park, 745 East Germann Road, Chandler

What? Besides interacting with ostriches, attendees can enjoy a midway of carnival rides, participate in family-friendly activities, or chow down on fried food. Live entertainment includes performances by the Pointer Sisters, 98 Degrees, and Blues Traveler.

How much? Admission is $8 for kids ages 4 to 12 and seniors, $15 for adults, and $65 for VIP tickets.




Want to Feel Those Lowdown Blues?

The newly renamed Phoenix Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival will offer plenty of down-home sounds.

When? Saturday, March 21

Where? Hance Park, 1134 North Central Avenue

What? This annual event, which used to be known as Blues Blast, will see acts and musicians like Zac Harmon, Amanda Fish, Cros, Bad News Blues Band, and others doing their thing on an outdoor stage. Vendors, family-friendly activities, and food trucks are also promised.

How much? $18 to $25

click to enlarge Country star Craig Morgan. - JOSEPH LLANES
Country star Craig Morgan.
Joseph Llanes



Do You Hunger for Tangy Barbecue and Twangy Music?

The KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival will have both in abundance.

When? Saturday, March 28

Where? Tumbleweed Park, 745 East Germann Road, Chandler

What? Just like it says in the name, this event is a mix of country music, ‘cue, and plenty of brews. The festival is put on by local radio station KNIX, and artists like Lee Brice, Craig Morgan, Caylee Hammack, and Locash will perform throughout the day.

How much? General admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the event. VIP upgrades are available for $100.

click to enlarge The tinfoil is a nice touch. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The tinfoil is a nice touch.
Benjamin Leatherman



Did You Know That Phoenix Lights Won’t Be the Only Space-Themed Extravaganza Happening This Spring?

It’s true, thanks to the Cosmic Music Festival.

When? Saturday, March 28

Where? Scarizona Scaregrounds, 1901 North Alma School Road, Mesa

What? A mix of musicians, DJs, and EDM producers will perform across five stages at this one-night event. There will also be live art, vendors, lectures, workshops, and visual displays.

How much? Advance tickets are $15.

click to enlarge The scene at Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld of Scottsdale. - COURTESY OF ARIZONA BIKE WEEK
The scene at Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
Courtesy of Arizona Bike Week



Have a Harley and a Taste for Rip-Roaring Rock ’n’ Roll?

Get your motor running and head out for Arizona Bike Week.

When? Wednesday, April 1, to Sunday, April 5

Where? WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road, Scottsdale

What? While this event is largely motorcycle-centric, music is still an intrinsic part of the week. Multiple concerts will be held, including local rock acts as well as The Offspring, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Jackyl slated to perform.

How much? Free to $68.

click to enlarge Those goggles make the lights of any EDM event look trippy. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Those goggles make the lights of any EDM event look trippy.
Benjamin Leatherman



Want to Have an Out-of-This-World Experience With Electronic Dance Music Without Getting Abducted?

Beam down to Phoenix Lights this spring.

When? Friday, April 3, to Saturday, April 4

Where? The Park at Wild Horse Pass, 19615 South 48th Street, Chandler

What? EDM superstars like Afrojack, Seven Lions, Borgore, and NGHTMRE will invade this two-day event set up within a massive outdoor compound with multiple stages, alien-themed art displays, and colorful club kids.

How much? Two-day tickets are $149 for general admission, $249 for VIP tickets, and $669 for platinum packages.

click to enlarge Volbeat are coming to Tempe in April. - BILL EBBESEN [CC BY (HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY/3.0)]
Volbeat are coming to Tempe in April.
Bill Ebbesen [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]



Is Radio-Friendly Metal and Hard Rock Your Thing?

Get ready to head-bang and throw some horns while taking a dip into KUPD’s annual UFest.

When? Saturday, April 4

Where? Big Surf, 1500 North McClintock Drive, Tempe

What? The legendary local rock station has been putting on this annual affair every spring for decades. This year’s version happens at the Valley’s longest-running water park and will include sets by Volbeat, Clutch, Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals, Fire From the Gods, and The Picturebooks.

How much? General admission is $39, VIP is $175, and side-stage tickets are $275.

click to enlarge DJ A Claire Slattery cues up some rock 'n' roll on vinyl. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
DJ A Claire Slattery cues up some rock 'n' roll on vinyl.
Benjamin Leatherman



Eager to Experience Tempe’s Infamous House Show Scene?

Disappear into the Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson neighborhood for the annual Vanishing Show.

When? Saturday, April 4

Where? MAFW Neighborhood, Tempe

What? Local DJ and promoter A Claire Slattery organizes this one-night roaming house show fest. Attendees gather at a nearby Circle K before heading out to a series of performances by local indie bands at nearby homes, each lasting no more than 45 minutes. The crowd then heads to the next stop, hopefully staying one step ahead of the cops. Bring bail money just in case.

How much? It’s free to attend, but donations to help out the bands are appreciated.

click to enlarge Keep your eyes on the fries. - GABE WILLIAMS AND CHANELLE SINCLAIR
Keep your eyes on the fries.
Gabe Williams and Chanelle Sinclair



Want to Combine Your Love of Rich Food and Rich Music?

Fried Festival is the place for you.

When? Sunday, April 12

Where? Hance Park, 1134 North Central Avenue

What? The second annual Fried Festival combines two of the best things that life has to offer: french fries and music. For $10 (and an extra $2 to $3 per sample-size portion), attendees can eat every type of fried potato their heart can withstand. Local bands and DJs will provide the music.

How much? Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate.

click to enlarge Murica' is a big thing at Country Thunder. - LEAVITT WELLS
Murica' is a big thing at Country Thunder.
Leavitt Wells


Looking to Have a Rootin’-Tootin’ Good Time?

Consider Country Thunder Arizona.

When? Thursday, April 16, to Sunday, April 19

Where? Canyon Moon Ranch, 20585 East Price Road, Florence

What? This popular music country party is a mix of a touring festival and standalone event. The boot-scootin’ bacchanal takes place over four days and features headliners like Kane Brown, Luke Combs, and Eric Church. Camping is also an essential part of the Country Thunder experience (as some major parties happen there). Spots are officially sold out, but you can still purchase them secondhand on Craigslist for a couple of hundred dollars or more.

How much? General admission is $75 per day, $160 for all four days. For big spenders, "Platinum Experience" tickets are $300 each day or $600 for all four days.

click to enlarge There are plenty of adult beverages to be had at Wet Electric. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
There are plenty of adult beverages to be had at Wet Electric.
Benjamin Leatherman



What Happens When You Take an Electronic Dance Music Event and Just Add Water?

The result is Wet Electric.

When? Saturday, April 25

Where? Big Surf, 1500 North McClintock Drive, Tempe

What? The 18-and-over event mixes beats with bathing suit-clad EDM fans for a day filled with water slides and killer sets. A stage is set up in the middle of Big Surf’s wave pool with vendors and bars throughout the park. Deorro, Troyboi, and Paz are scheduled to perform, and attendees can bring their own floaties to enhance the experience even more.

How much? General admission tickets are $49 with VIP packages available.

click to enlarge Sublime With Rome performs at the Pot of Gold Music Festival. - JIM LOUVAU
Sublime With Rome performs at the Pot of Gold Music Festival.
Jim Louvau



Want to Spend Another Day Rocking Out at the Water Park?

Surf on over to the High Tide Festival to wrap up the season.

When? Sunday, April 26

Where? Big Surf, 1500 North McClintock Drive, Tempe

What? This event uses the same setup as Wet Electric, albeit with reggae-rock bands instead of DJs. Sublime with Rome and Pepper are headlining, and “good vibes” are promised.

How much? General admission is $29 and VIP tickets are $99.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Barbara Smith
Contact: Barbara Smith