The unofficial start of the music festival season is approaching (it’s Coachella, of course), and if you’re headed to any of the festivals on our list, you need to be doing your serious research on flights right now. Every music festival we’re covering is guaranteed to be a popular barnburner – don’t delay.
Accommodation, tickets (under the table or not), and airfare prices tend to rise as the festival date approaches. By timing your flight purchase right, you can save some money or find an airfare deal.
SXSWMarch 10-19, 2017Austin, TX
The little festival with humble beginnings, is now an unstoppable machine – with film, music and interactive media on a massive scale that virtually takes over Austin for 10 days in March.
When to Buy: South By (as it’s known to insiders), has gone from a scrappy little music festival in the 80’s to an industry event that can’t be missed (with the attendant high pricetag). If you’re planning to go, plan everything in advance. Frontier currently has a low round trip fare from Los Angeles ($166). Jetblue has a connecting flight from Newark for under $300, or you can fly from JFK nonstop for around $500. United has a nonstop flight from Chicago (ORD) for around $375.
Coachella Valley Music & Arts FestivalApril 14-16, 21-23Indio, CA
Coachella is the wildly popular, hugely expensive festival that every cool kid in the L.A. area attends. In recent years, ticket prices have soared to excruciating levels, but people still manage to pony up pass prices for the legendary performances.
When to Buy: Airline tickets into Ontario or Los Angeles, or even Burbank are going to be low and plentiful so you can use the prime booking window as a rough guide for best time to purchase. Virgin America has a nonstop into LAX from New York (JFK) for under $375. Spirit can get you to LAX for right around $100 from either Seattle or Portland. If you’re fancy, you can fly into Palm Springs nonstop for around $1,100 on Jetblue from JFK.
Stagecoach Music FestivalApril 28-30, 2017Indio, CA
Stagecoach is Coachella’s hipster, country “cousin” to Coachella. It lures top country acts and a veritable Who’s Who of Hollywood’s more laid back celebs. You might see Kim and Kanye at Coachella and Ashton and Mila at Stagecoach.
When to Buy: You might find cheaper flights into Palm Springs by now, as the heat has usually started to drive less hardy souls out of the desert by this point in April. Look for deals into Palm Springs now, or go old skool and fly into LAX or Burbank. Alaska has nonstop flights into Palm Springs from San Francisco for around $300. Compare that to Virgin America’s $137 fare into LAX on the same dates.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage FestivalApril 28-May 7, 2017New Orleans, LA
Pretty much every living jazz great plays Jazz Fest, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the audience for one of these legendary performances, you’ll have created some magic to remember your Big Easy trip by.
When to Buy: Now is not too soon. Spirit has some rock bottom prices if you’re willing to travel very light, but flights tend to sell out the premium seats not long after the first of the year. Frontier is also offering good value out of Denver with nonstops at $174 round trip.
Sasquatch! Music FestivalMay 26-28, 2017Quincy, WA
The natural beauty of the Gorge gives this concert venue a shot at “Most Beautiful Place to See a Show” status. Couple that with an always eclectic, well organized festival like Sasquatch! and you’ve got a winning formula.
When to Buy: Most people fly into Seattle and then make the drive to Quincy. That’s a solid 3 hour drive, but we promise the views alone are worth the inconvenient location. Tickets from Denver or Los Angeles are around $150 right now. Track fares and use the prime booking window to purchase tickets 2 weeks to 3 and a half months out.
Bonnaroo Music + Arts FestivalJune 8-11, 2017Manchester, TN
Bonnaroo is a pretty chill festival somewhere in the Tennessee countryside on a farm (how quaint!) An always eclectic, indie lineup and a commitment to sustainability are the hallmark of Bonnaroo. Most attendees camp, but nearby hotels also offer shuttles for the camping-averse.
When to Buy: You’re probably going to get better airfares if you fly into Nashville (60 miles away) or Chattanooga (40 miles away). At the moment it’s slightly cheaper to fly to Chattanooga from New York, but it’s a toss-up for Los Angelenos. Start your search now, and plan to buy by late in April or early May.
Electic Daisy CarnivalJune 16-18, 2017Las Vegas
The EDC now has outposts all over the year, but the Vegas part is still the flagship and granddaddy, with a reputation for unparalleled excess and spectacle.
When to Buy: Vegas is usually cheap, cheap, cheap. But this is a big party – crowds sometimes top 100,000 people or more. Start the search early and plan to buy when you see a deal. Right now, flights from LAX and New York are a bit more than usual. Watch closely and plan to buy as soon as you see a deal.
What the FestivalJune 16-19, 2017Portland, OR
What the Festival is a little bit of communing with nature, a bit more of electronic music, a dash of art installations and a lot of chill vibes (at least that’s what it feels like). Don’t be surprised if you hear people talking about energy and chakras while they’re enjoying the stunning scenery of Mt. Hood National Forest.
When to Buy: People descend upon the festival from Seattle, Bend and Portland, primarily. Flights can be competitive and more expensive than winter or spring, with visitors trying to capitalize on the brief summers. Buy your airfare on the early side – 3 months from the festival is a good plan. If fares seem rather volatile at that point, you can watch and wait a bit longer.
*Fares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 3/2/17 on select dates between 03/8/17 and 6/21/17. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.
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