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Enthusiastic fans at the Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida

California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New York

Electronic Music Festivals: Art, Food and Fun at the USA’s Top EDM Events

By: Idoia Gkikas

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  • States:
    California
    Florida
    Michigan
    Nevada
    New York

The USA is the king of music festivals like Coachella in California, South by Southwest in Texas, Sasquatch! in Washington state, Bonnaroo in Tennessee.

The options, settings, musical styles and crowd vibes offer something for every taste. Fans of electronic dance music have a host of options, too, from an EDM carnival in Las Vegas to a festival cruise out of sunny Florida. Check out these seven top picks for techno, trance, house, dubstep and just about any other mix your club wear desires.

Ultra Music Festival and Winter Music Conference – Miami, Florida

Miami’s famous beaches and nightlife create the perfect setting for outdoor music festivals. The biggest events of the year, the Ultra Music Festival and the Winter Music Conference, are both in March. UMF is a weekend-long mega party attracting some of the biggest names in EDM. Past performers have included the likes of Afrojack, David Guetta, Avicii and Deep Dish. Across multiple stages at picturesque Bayfront Park, DJs and live musicians play crowd favorites and debut new music. WMC is one of the oldest and biggest industry events of the year. In addition to 400 unique events and 1,900 DJs and artists, WMC is an aspiring industry professional’s think tank with seminars about music production, performance and promotion.

Afrojack performing at the Ultra Music Festival

Afrojack performing at the Ultra Music Festival
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Electric Daisy Carnival – Las Vegas, Nevada

Put together a mind-boggling array of carnival rides and games, circus performers and eight stages of DJs, all illuminated by pyrotechnic art, fireworks and every color of LED light imaginable, and you’ve got the Electric Daisy Carnival. Originally conceived in Los Angeles, EDC now thrives at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in May. EDC is a place to debut your most outlandish outfit, exotic makeup and flamboyant dance moves. The festival offers a range of camping options; reserve a tent for the ultimate party weekend. In September in Las Vegas, the Life is Beautiful festival brings together diverse musical performers – such as Slightly Stoopid, Wiz Khalifa and Lorde – with top chefs like José Andrés and Cat Cora, eclectic restaurants and cutting-edge visual artists. You’ll party all night along 18 downtown block, just steps from the classic casinos and nighttime light shows of the Fremont Street Experience.

Explosions of light and sound from the stage at the Electric Daisy Carnival

Explosions of light and sound from the stage at the Electric Daisy Carnival
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Movement – Detroit, Michigan

For any EDM fan, Movement is a bucket-list event in the birthplace of techno. During the Memorial Day holiday the last weekend of May, downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza teems with tens of thousands of EDM fans and talented artists from around the world – people like John Digweed, Nina Kraviz and Andrés – as well as vendors, food, drinks and after parties. Don’t miss the Technology Area, where you can do hands-on experiments with the latest electronic music equipment and software. Hart Plaza is steps from Detroit’s Riverwalk and is central to the city’s outstanding cultural venues. Find your way to Submerge Records on Grand Boulevard to peek at Exhibit 3000, billed as the world’s only techno museum. Learn about Detroit’s music history – it’s also the birthplace of Motown – and visit can’t-miss automotive landmarks, such as the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

Serene park and the city skyline in downtown Detroit

Serene park and the city skyline in downtown Detroit
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Electric Forest Festival – Double JJ Resort, Rothbury, Michigan

In the thick of the woods on a sprawling ranch property in Rothbury, Michigan, jam bands play alongside EDM artists at the Electric Forest Festival every June. The String Cheese Incident has headlined for the past several years with previous guests covering everything from electro funk to bluegrass and hip hop. The highlight for EDM fans is the curated events that take place throughout the festival, where a headlining EFF artists– such as Crew Love and Foreign Family Collective – create their own musical lineups on a dedicated stage. Along with whimsical sculptures, creative light shows and artistic stage setups, the forest scenery sets the mood for good vibes, great music and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Rothbury is just minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan. Bring your bathing suit to soak up the sun and swim in the lake.

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Electric Zoo – New York City, New York

Nominated four times for International Dance Music Award’s “Best Music Event,” Electric Zoo is New York City’s top EDM event. With previous performances by Bonobo, Eric Prydz, The Chemical Brothers, Cedric Gervais, Zedd and deadmau5, Electric Zoo serves up every flavor of Electronic tunes. Plus, the location doesn’t get any better; the festivities take place on Randall’s Island Park in the East River, conveniently nestled between Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. Enjoy more than 14 kilometers of waterfront paths and perfect views of the city skyline and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. There’s a bonus for party-goers: a cashless payment system, making it easier to enjoy the festivities without worrying about your wallet. Combine Electric Zoo with New York City’s unparalleled theater scene, museums, nightlife, art and international cuisine, and you have the trip of a lifetime.

Night view of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge from Randall’s Island Park

Night view of the Robert  F. Kennedy Bridge from Randall’s Island Park
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CRSSD Festival – San Diego, California

There’s something about those sky-high palm trees and salty ocean breezes that make the CRSSD Festival special. The San Diego music festival takes place in the glorious March weather at Waterfront Park across from the San Diego Bay. Dance in the park’s splash fountains as you listen to new, established and international artists like Tchami, Bonobo, Charlotte De Witte, Empire of the Sun and Trippy Turtle. Acts take place across three stages in different settings – Oceanside, Palms and City Steps – and Southern California’s health-conscious vibe means you’ll find vegan and vegetarian food options. Check out after parties at other great San Diego clubs like Bang Bang and the Music Box. Hotels, restaurants, shopping and attractions are within walking distance of the park.

Sunset approaches at the San Diego Waterfront Park

Sunset approaches at the San Diego Waterfront Park
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Holy Ship! – Cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida

If you’re going to take a cruise, it might as well involve a dance festival with nearly nonstop music, fun activities, private beach parties, amazing food and a trip to the Bahamas. Holy Ship! departs from sunny Port Canaveral, Florida. With seven stages of music plus a casino, spa, international cuisine and even an ice bar maintained at a brisk -22 Celsius, Holy Ship! is one of the more unique festival experiences in the USA. Don’t be surprised if you’re booking next year’s cruise before you get off the boat. You can feel good about attending, too; proceeds from auctions and prize drawings go to nonprofit service projects. Don’t miss visiting Kennedy Space Center in Titusville before or after your cruise. Just 30 minutes north of the port, it’s home to a mind-boggling array of NASA history, including real spacecraft, interactive exhibits and behind-the-scenes tours.

Finding panoramic views from the Exploration Tower at Port Canveral

Finding panoramic views from the Exploration Tower at Port Canveral
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