25 Cool Music Festivals to Heat Up Your Summer

Tap your foot, sing along and get your groove on at these summer music festivals featuring live rock, pop, folk, jazz and more.

Sarina Bolton and her twin sister Nalani are music-making New Jersey natives. See the duo at the Sourland Music Festival on June 23 and the Black Potatoe Music Festival on July 13.
Sarina Bolton and her twin sister Nalani are music-making New Jersey natives. See the duo at the Sourland Music Festival on June 23 and the Black Potatoe Music Festival on July 13.
Courtesy of Jim Farrell

Cape May Music Festival

Thru June 15: The 29th annual music celebration features a cappella group Blue Jupiter, the Bay Atlantic Symphony and a tribute to George Mesterhazy. Times and prices vary.

XRootsFest

June 2: Musicians, dancers, storytellers, merchants and food vendors expose festivalgoers to various cultures during an educational afternoon in Maplewood Memorial Park. Performers include Cobu, a performing arts troupe that combines elements of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming with street dancing; Drums from Heaven, a drum circle experience; Exodus Supreme, a group with a Calypso/Reggae/Latin musical vibe; and many more. Noon-6 pm.

Basie Summer Jazz Fest

June 2-3: Count Basie Center for the Arts, the namesake of jazz great William J. “Count” Basie, is back with its second jazz celebration in Red Bank. Saturday schedule: Lizz Wright, 4-5 pm; Bob James Trio, 5:30-6:30 pm; Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin, 8-9:15 pm; Michael Franks, 9:45-11 pm. Sunday schedule: Moonchild, 6:30-7:20 pm; Esperanza Spalding, 7:45-9 pm; Snarky Puppy, 9:30-11:30 pm. $40-$129.

The Peter and Will Anderson Quintet will perform at McCarter Theatre on June 23 as part of the Princeton Festival.

The Peter and Will Anderson Quintet will perform at McCarter Theatre on June 23 as part of the Princeton Festival. Courtesy of Princeton Festival

Princeton Festival 

June 9-July 1: The festival highlights the arts community with three weeks of workshops, lectures and performances in opera, music and theater. Times, prices and locations vary.

Groove in the Grove

June 9: Kick back on the grounds of Vasa Park in Budd Lake, listen to music, drink a cold one and hang out with friends. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to this rain-or-shine festival with an open mic challenge and performances by Patrick Fitzsimmons, Danielle Miraglia and Katherine Rondeau. $10-$15.

Asbury Park Jams on the Sand

June 21-August 30: Music artists like Mihali, Kung Fu and Aztec Sun play tunes at Anchor’s Bend in Asbury Park every Thursday. 5-10 pm; Free.

Sourland Music Festival

June 23: At this benefit to raise money for the Sourland Mountain region, the lineup offers something for every music lover, from reggae to country. Musicians include Nalani & Sarina, Flux Capacitor, Stolen Rhodes and Verdict. 3-10 pm; $10-$100. Hillsborough Golf & Country Club.

Rock, Ribs & Ridges

The Outlaws perform at the Rock, Ribs and Ridges festival on June 23.

The Outlaws perform at the Rock, Ribs and Ridges festival on June 23. Courtesy of outlawsmusic.com.

June 23-24: The party heats up with mouthwatering barbecue, craft beer and live music from the Outlaws, Poco and Travis Tritt at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta. Serious fans can park their RV or set up a tent for the weekend. $19-$74, general admission.

Baymen’s Seafood & Music Festival

June 23-24: Dig into some fresh Jersey clams, crabs, scallops and shrimp while enjoying local craft beers at Tuckerton Seaport. On Saturday, listen to the Motts Creek Pickers (1-5 pm) and Nectar & Ambrosia (noon-4 pm); on Sunday, Heart Fulla Bluz (noon-4 pm) and Gary Philips (noon-4 pm). 11 am-5 pm; $10.

Bradley Beach Lobsterfest

June 23-24: Tie on a bib for some fingerlicking-good food on the boardwalk. The annual event also welcomes live bands, more than 180 craft vendors, and a beer and wine garden. Here’s the Saturday lineup: Fountain of Youth (11 am-noon), The Neighbors (12:30-2 pm), Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son (3-5 pm), and Random Test (6-8 pm); Sunday: Marel Hidalgo (11 am-12:30 pm), Vini “Maddog” Lopez (1-3pm), Pat Roddy Band (4-6 pm). 500 Ocean Avenue.

Margate Beachstock

June 30: Have fun in the sun at Margate Beachstock. Learn to limbo and hula, unwind with yoga, jam out to live music from Matt Santry and enter the volleyball tournament. Eat your fill of fare and chill out in the beer-and-margarita garden before the bonfire and family-friendly movie at dusk. 8 am-10 pm; no beach tags required, activity prices vary.

Demi Lovato's beach concert on July 26 in Atlantic City is sure to be a blast.

Demi Lovato’s beach concert on July 26 in Atlantic City is sure to be a blast. Courtesy of demilovato.com

Atlantic City BeachFest Concert Series

July 1-29: Jam out with your toes in the sand when Sam Hunt (July 1), Demi Lovato (July 26) and The Chainsmokers (July 29) take the stage. Times and prices vary.

Mercer County Jazz Festival

July 7: Set up  your lawn chair at Mercer County Park Festival Grounds in West Windsor and enjoy the musical stylings of Bob Pollitt, Aya, Jeff Bradshaw and the Baylor Project. 2-8 pm; $20.

Black Potatoe Music Festival

July 12-15: Dozens of local, national and international musicians play on the two stages at Red Mill Museum in Clinton. Some acts to look forward to: Nalani & Sarina, Radney Foster, Debra Devi, Grace Morrison and Mike Montrey Band. $22-$77.50.

Bickford Summer JazzFest

July 12-August 2: Music and food always seem to pair perfectly together. The Bickford Summer JazzFest combines jazz with local food trucks on site before each concert. $18-$25. Bickford Theatre, Morris Museum, Morristown.

Rosen PAC’s Summer Concert Series

July 12-August 30: The Rosen Performing Arts Center, located in the Wayne YMCA, celebrates summer with eight concerts and performances. Lyn Dillies, afemale illusionist,  opens the series on July 12 at 7 pm. Deni Bonet closes the series on August 30 as she leads a troupe of musicians during her ultra-high-voltage violin performance. $16 per show, series package available.

New Jersey State Barbecue Championship & Anglesea Blues Festival

July 13-15: Two festivals mean twice the fun in North Wildwood. Meat masters cook up ribs, chicken, brisket and pork. But that’s not all! Blues musicians perform on an outdoor stage. The weekend includes a craft beer garden, cooking classes and a vendor market.  

Hopewell native Danielia Cotton will perform at Maplewoodstock on July 14.

Hopewell native Danielia Cotton will perform at Maplewoodstock on July 14. Courtesy of Maplewoodstock

Maplewoodstock

July 14-15: Headliners for this annual, free celebration of community art and music include Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, Third World, Danielia Cotton and The Suffers. Memorial Park.

Centenary Stage Company Summer Jamfest

July 14-August 11: The annual festival returns to the Lackland Performing Arts Center. This year’s Jamfest features Lee Rocker of The Stray Cats on July 14, 8 pm; the George Gee Swing Orchestra on July 21, 8 pm; and YESSONGS: The Concert on August 11, 8 pm.

QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning

July 27-29: Hundreds of hot-air balloons will fill the sky above Hunterdon County during the festival, the largest event of its kind in North America. Back on the ground, enjoy performances from kiddie-rock artist Laurie Berkner (Friday, 1:30 pm), Andy Grammer (Friday, 8 pm), Lifehouse (Saturday, 8 pm) and Creedence Clearwater Revisited (Sunday, 3 pm). Lift off: Fri, 6:30 pm; Sat & Sun, 6:30 am & 6:30 pm. Solberg Airport, Readington.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the XPoNential Music Festival on July 28.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the XPoNential Music Festival on July 28. Courtesy of Patrick Melon

XPoNential Music Festival

July 27-29: Patrons jam out to live music from established and new artists during the three-day. This year’s headliners are David Byrne, Sylvan Esso, the War on Drugs, Sturgill Simpson and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Prices vary. BB&T Pavilion and Wiggins Waterfront Park, Camden.

Rutherfurd Hall Summer Jazz Series

July 27-September 21: Rutherfurd Hall is swinging this summer with two 17-piece jazz bands and a quartet. Friday evenings at 7:30 pm, $35-$40.

Soulsational Music Festival

July 28: This feel-good fest invites guests to bring food-pantry, toy and school-supply donations to this all-day, rain-or-shine affair. Enjoy two stages of live music, yoga classes, organic food, beer and wine, an art gallery and more at Veteran’s Park in Bayville. 11 am-8 pm.

Montclair Jazz Festival

August 11: Eddie Palmieri, Oliver Lake Trio, Royal Bopsters and Montclair resident and renowned jazz bassist Christian McBride headline the free festival in Nishuane Park. Noon-9 pm.

Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival

August 18: Now in its eighth year, the popular free music festival welcomes music fans of all ages to the Green, located in the center of the historic town. This year’s lineup: Air Force Jazz Big Band: Rhythm in Blue (noon-2 pm), Bria Skonberg (2-4 pm), LaBamba & The Hubcaps (4-6 pm), Bernard Allison Group (6-8 pm) and Davy Knowles (8-10 pm).

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