Top 10 Bluegrass Festivals
Bluegrass festivals are heavenly playgrounds for those driven by the acoustic accouterments and harmonious marriage of those classic bluegrass instruments. With mixed roots and traditional flair, the twang of banjos, harmonicas, and the like creates a unique and soul-fulfilling sound. Harvesting musicians and fans from across the globe and between generations, these festivals are often held outdoors where the sounds of nature can accompany the earthy notes of striking ballads. Participants are most often without assigned seats; free to wander about among strangers and friends, and join along in song and dance. If you’re a Bluegrass fan searching for a perfect festival to include in your upcoming RV travel plans, then take a look at these great many tantalizing festivals that play out annually across the nation.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Held in Telluride, Colorado, this well-known event has been going strong for over four decades. The Telluride Bluegrass festival has become a staple for die-hard fans and musicians alike, and is not to be missed by any tried-and-true Bluegrass lovers. Marrying itself to the summer solstice, Telluride brings with it new and innovative talent every year. Set in the San Juan Mountains, the stunning landscape of Colorado acts as a gracious host, making this festival not only beautiful to the ears, but a feast for the eyes as well.
Anyone deeply entrenched in the bluegrass scene knows about the MerleFest as well. Initiated in 1988 by Grammy award-winning guitarist, Doc Watson in honor of his son Merle, this engagement has grown to become one of the largest musical festival events in the world. Bringing in music genres that expand the auditory palette, you can find a broad array of musical artistry showcased here; including jazz, folk, and blues.
Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival
Bill Monroe is known as no other than the Father of Bluegrass, and this whopping eight day event is held every year in his honor. Located just five miles north of Nashville, Indiana, the town of Bean Blossom has been a continual host to this festival for 49 years. As the oldest Bluegrass festival in the world, with over 80 bands in attendance this year alone, the Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival is undoubtedly one to pencil into your summer event plans.
Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival
Sticking near to its roots, the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival also pays homage to the Father of Bluegrass. The Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival is stationed in Monroe’s hometown area of Rosine, Kentucky, and brings in over 12,000 fans and 44 musicians each year. With good food, continuous music, and southern hospitality, this festival provides a taste of everything the Bluegrass culture has to offer.
The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival
The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in New York hosts over 40 bands and six stages, selling out 4,000 campsites each year for the event. Quietly touted as the best-kept secret in the musical scene, this festival is enthusiastically attended. At 30 years running, it is one of the oldest and most respected events in the industry, capturing an impressive lineup of musicians. Campers coming from far and wide can plant tents at a nearby farm called the “Foxhole” and get themselves settled down in advance—sometimes up to a week before the actual event.
World of Bluegrass
Taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina, this festival is hosted by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), and reaches beyond the standard musical stages and amazing performers to become an affair for all facets of the industry. The World of Bluegrass includes an awards show, a business conference, an exposition and tradeshow for Bluegrass professionals, and a free street festival and showcase throughout downtown Raleigh.
3 Sisters Bluegrass Music Festival
In the catchy city of Chattanooga, the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Music Festival combines old and new sounds, and welcomes staple performers along with newcomers to create a melting pot of sound. Imagined into existence in 2007 by local resident George Bright and set up alongside the Tennessee River, this festival is a fun and family-friendly walkabout experience that you can count on, rain or shine.
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
If you like to mix your musical genres, the Hardly Strictly festival is the one for you. With over 100 artists and seven stages, this festival is held in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, in the first week of October every year. Free of charge, this festival is a must-attend for anyone who can find their way to the Bay area. What makes this festival unique is its local financial support. Warren Hellman, a venture capitalist in the area, helps to subsidize the event each year so that it can remain a free and pure musical experience for all.
Silver Dollar City Bluegrass and BBQ Festival
Held in Branson, Missouri, the distinctive Silver Dollar City Bluegrass and BBQ Festival offers a delectable assortment of both great music and unforgettable food. This event spans nearly the entire month of May and pulls in over 40 bands. There is even a Youth in Bluegrass contest to encourage up-and-coming young musicians to practice their talents. And if you’re hungry for more, you can participate in the all-you-can-eat BBQ rib feast on any given afternoon on the Square.
40th Annual National Old Time Country Bluegrass and Old-Time Folk Music Festival
Going strong since 1976, this National Old Time Music Festival takes place in at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa. With 10 stages and over 600 celebrities and performers in attendance, the broad array of activity is enough to bring Bluegrass fans pouring in from all over the country. Music contests, workshops, and arts and crafts can also be found weaved into a lineup of musicians that is not to be missed.
The pleasures of Bluegrass festivals are well known by their attendees. From the social, laid back, family-friendly ambiance, and abundant camaraderie to the talented lineups of masterful musicians, the experience promises to be nothing less than enchanting. Whether framed by the gorgeous San Juan Mountains or the expansive flow of the Tennessee River, these events highlight all the joys that nature, clean living, close community ties, and great Bluegrass music can offer to the soul.
Making the rounds at various Bluegrass festivals is part of the fun when you live the RV lifestyle. Traveling to music festivals becomes a destination in itself and often, just getting there is all part of the fun. Enjoy!