High Times Summer Festival Guide

Have you ever woken up on a grassy lawn after dancing all night, enthralled by the beauty of the sunrise while also still blasted on whatever various substances you ingested the night before? Chances are that the lawn you curled up on after that last set of psy-trance, house or dubstep belonged to a festival venue, otherwise your neighbors would get pretty tired of your wook antics before too long!

Offering a chance to unplug, re-wild and de-stress, camping festivals open up a world of possibility for revelers to discover new ideas, new music and new friends, while also learning something about themselves. Occasionally grueling, with rain, mud, extreme heat or frustrating traffic, music festival challenges can often cause one to wonder: “What am I doing here? And not just HERE at this festival, stuck in this car, or bogged down in this rainy tent, but here on planet Earth?” I mean, not every event can be a High Times Cannabis Cup.

Thoughts like these can lead to intense periods of personal growth, especially if you ate the pot chocolates dispensed by those pretty girls with fairy wings wandering around! Disrupting the regular routine, breaking open your head, and gathering together to dance introduces people to new habits, practices and paradigms, as evidenced by life-changing events like Burning Man.

The granddaddy of transformational festivals, Burning Man encourages attendees to participate in the action, either through the “gift economy,” or by constructing elaborate art installations, theme camps or costumes. Ideas concerning environmental sustainability, radical self-reliance, and far-reaching creativity have trickled down from Burning Man into other, smaller events and festivals on the West Coast, changing culture as we know it.

Kevin KoChen, founder of the Symbiosis Gathering, seeks to create a more authentic experience of human interaction, experimenting on his “town of 10,000” as if it were a microcosm of the larger society. “We try not to be just another music festival,” KoChen says, “we like people to not only come and experience but also be a part of it.”

Innovative programs include four-day immersive workshops in permaculture, yoga and visionary art, paired with seminars, bodywork, healing opportunities and plenty of organic food served on compostable serviceware. “We’ve reduced waste over forty percent,” Kevin states proudly, “and you won’t see plastic water bottles or mass-produced items sold on site.”

Designed to create feeling of wonder and awe, the diverse, international feel of Symbiosis attracts travelers from all over the globe, all seeking to dwell in a village of kindred spirits, even if for a short while.

Fostering feelings of community and good vibrations is also the intention of the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, bringing “one love” to the Monterey County Fairgrounds for a weekend of reggae and hip-hop. A more traditional festival compared to New Age wonderlands like Lightning in a Bottle or Enchanted Forest, Cali Roots has also embraced ideas like live painting, adding 11 artists this year who will accompany a band’s set by creating artwork onstage. “Anytime you have like-minded people together in one place to celebrate unity, there’s opportunities for education that spread beyond the event,” says Dan Sheehan, co-producer of Cali Roots, which has grown to become the world’s largest reggae-rock festival in just six years.

Sustainability initiatives have become a larger part of modern festivals, aimed at curbing the rampant waste caused by single-use plastic water bottles and food service waste. Refillable water stations, bans on single-use plastic bottles, and compostable serviceware found at festivals have informed the public about these practices, while the Reusable Pint program at Cali Roots was utilized by 7000 concert goers last summer.

Kick off your transformation by gathering your best buds and hitting the road to check out a few or all of these fantastic festivals, hand-picked by the staff at High Times for the ultimate summer road trip experience!

California Roots Music & Arts Festival

May 22-24, 2015
Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, CA

Cali Roots is a celebration of unity and “one love” in the reggae community, back for the sixth year in a row at the site of the legendary 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Featuring 39 musical acts including headliners Soja, The Roots, Slightly Stoopid, Cypress Hill, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Collie Buddz and John Butler Trio spread over a three-day weekend, the festival goes above and beyond to ensure that positive vibes and good times are had by all! Tickets start at $75 for one day, and range up to $190 for the entire weekend, while the VIP experience starts at $450.

Boston Calling Music Festival

May 22-24, 2015
City Hall Plaza in Boston, MA

Boston Calling Music Festival is a three-day music festival to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend and kick off summer 2015. The festival features 23 acts. The headliners include Beck on Friday, My Morning Jacket on Saturday and The Pixies on Sunday. There are general admission three-day tickets for $175, two-day tix for $135, and one-day tickets for $50-75. VIP tickets cost $350 for two days or $185 for one day.

Summer Camp Music Festival

May 22-24, 2015
Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL

Summer Camp is a three-day camping (tent or RV) festival with over 100 artists and seven stages. This year Summer Camp is celebrating 15 years with five performances each from moe. and Umphrey’s McGee. Summer Camp is about three hours’ drive from Chicago or St. Louis, and about four hours’ drive from Indianapolis. General admission tickets cost $225, and you can upgrade to the VIP experience for $200 more.

Northside Festival

June 8-14, 2015
North Brooklyn, New York City

Northside is NYC’s answer to SXSW. This “discovery” festival takes over just about every venue, concert space and screening room in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn. New bands like Viet Cong join all-time favorites like Run the Jewels, Sleigh Bells, Built to Spill and hundreds more acts. Indie films from scrappy upcoming filmmakers will screen, and an Innovation Conference and Expo brings together hundreds of cutting-edge geeks and gurus to talk shop and show off their creations in a trade show fair. Four types of badges are available: Music ($80), Film ($30), Innovation ($285) and Premium ($315). You also have the option to buy tickets to individual shows or screenings.

High Sierra Music Festival

July 2-5, 2015
Quincy, CA

Now in its 25th year, High Sierra is nestled in a picturesque mountain town just a short jaunt away from Yosemite National Park, making it a great addition to a nature-lover’s vacation. Featuring jam bands, blues, rock and funk, High Sierra combines great music with chill camping and a wonderfully family-friendly atmosphere for grown-up festival lovers. Check out The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, Galactic, Lotus, The Motet, BoomBox, The Slip and others at this Independence Day celebration. Tickets start at $245.50, plus add-on vehicle passes.

All Good Music Festival

July 9-11, 2015
Berry Hill Farm in Summit Point, WV

All Good is a three-day camping (tent or RV) festival only 75 minutes from Washington, DC and 90 minutes from Baltimore. Headliners include Cannabis Cup performers moe. and SOJA, as well as Primus, Cake, Thievery Corporation, Lotus, STS9 and John Butler Trio. All Good features side-by-side mainstages with absolutely no overlapping sets throughout the entire weekend. Early Bird online tickets cost $195 & the Even Better VIP online tickets cost $495.

Northern Nights

July 17-19, 2015
Cook’s Valley Campground in Piercy, CA

One of many smaller EDM festivals popping up around the country, Northern Nights has the advantage of an incredibly beautiful location in California’s famed Emerald Triangle. Set amongst redwood giants in Humboldt County, with camping right off the Eel River, Northern Night Music Festival offers stunning art installations, all-day yoga and comedy performances. Featuring electronica of all types including Gold Panda, Rüfüs Du Sol, Slow Magic and Autograf, Northern Nights is an intimate experience that sold out quickly last year, so get your tickets soon. $195 for general admission for a three-day weekend, with VIP options available at $279. Check out four stages of music, including the river stage, all-day floating party and the Off The Grid silent disco.

The Peach Music Festival

August 13-16, 2015
The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA

The Peach Music Festival is inspired and curated by the Allman Brothers Band. The 4 day event features Gregg Allman, Santana, Bob Weir with Billy & the Kids, Willie Nelson & Family, Warren Haynes ft. Railroad Earth—just to name a few legendary performers coming to the Peach Fest this August. Concert admission and camping passes are sold separately. General admission tickets cost $155, plus $45 to camp on-site. VIP tickets cost $500 and Super VIP cost $1000, plus VIP camping for two starts at $1089.

Enchanted Forest

August 14-16, 2015
Mendocino County, CA

An intimate community of forest dwellers, mystical maidens, and self-styled shamans, Enchanted Forest Gathering is less of a music festival and more of a “happening.” Influenced by the neo-psychedelic culture of Burning Man, this is an opportunity to meet kind-hearted kin looking for participatory experiences where attendees co-create the performances, art installations and theme camps. Tickets start at about $190 with add-ons for camping, parking and early arrival. If you’re looking for something radical and different this summer, you’ve found it!


September 5-7, 2015
Seattle, WA

Now in its 45th year, Bumbershoot is a vital annual tradition in the Emerald City, featuring music, art, theater, film, comedy, and dance. With more than 80 bands over three days at multiple venues, this festival has something for everyone. An incredibly diverse line-up this year includes Faith No More, Bassnectar, The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper, Fitz & the Tantrums, Cake, Social Distortion, Lee Scratch Perry, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Peaches and much, much more, making a trip to Bumbershoot the perfect way to end your summer of fun! Tickets range from $65 for single-day passes up to $375 and beyond for various VIP packages.

Lockn’ Festival

September 10-13, 2015
Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA

Lockn’ Festival is a four-day music fest to celebrate the end of summer. The show is within four hours’ drive from Washington, DC or Charlotte, NC and about 5 hours’ drive from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, PA. Lockn’ will feature performances from The Doobie Brothers with String Cheese Incident, Joe Cocker tribute of Mad Dogs and Englishman with Tedeschi Trucks Band, Phil Lesh & friends with Warren Haynes & Carlos Santana, and Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. Tickets for general admission online cost $285, plus tent-only camping for $70 or with your vehicle for $90.

Symbiosis Gathering

September 17 – 20, 2015
Woodward Reservoir, Oakdale, CA

Another transformational festival heavily influenced by Burning Man culture, Symbiosis seeks to blur the lines between performer and spectators, encouraging participation in constructing elaborate art cars, installations and theme camps. Set in a watery world complete with “art boats”, Symbiosis has found a home at Woodward Reservoir, an oasis of swimming and camping just two hours drive from San Francisco. Environmental stewardship is a huge part of the Symbiosis messaging, complete with an on-site intensive permaculture class starting one week before the festival gates open. With top-notch performers, intricately designed stages, interactive art, organic food and homemade crafts, this gathering is completely devoid of commercial sponsorship or advertising, making Symbiosis the ideal place to turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

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