Lesser-Known Festivals of 2016: Taste the Rainbow

2016 FESTIVAL SEASON IS HERE (BASICALLY)! While our East Coast counterparts are enjoying Miami Music Week and gearing up for Ultra Music Festival this weekend, we’ve been staving off our FOMO – while also licking our wounds from not being able to kick off the 2016 season at CRSSD Fest in San Diego earlier in March – by doing some research on some of the lesser-known festivals going on in the coming months over here on the Best Coast. Our search yielded a ton of festivals, but we tried to narrow it down to a list of events we thought you guys would like the best (including some non-EDM festivals that caught our fancy… just trust us). Enjoy!


Sat Nam Fest
Where: Joshua Tree Retreat Center (Joshua Tree, CA)
When: April 6 – 10

Presented by Spirit Voyage, this is a festival for seasoned yogis and noobs like ourselves alike. So, no matter what your skill level, if you want an excuse to zen-out in the desert you can find all types of workshops and classes at Sat Nam Fest, all to be enjoyed with breathtaking Joshua Tree as your backdrop. And do not fear, you won’t just be learning from yoga masters, you’ll also be hearing music from world-renowned artists to cap off this festival as a weekend-to-remember. As their saying goes, “Come Home to Your Heart at Sat Nam Fest.”

Lucidity Festival
Where: Live Oak Campground (Santa Barbara, CA)
When: April 8 - 10

Lucidity Festival, now in its fifth year, is an open-source transformational arts and musical festival that is created not just by its organizers but by its attendees – that means YOU. The festival features eight themed villages, from Trixsters’ Playground to Healers’ Sanctuary, and attendees are encouraged to create their own journey throughout the weekend. You can spend your time creating art, leading workshops, joining in on spontaneous flash mobs, attending panel discussions, or (our personal favorite basically all the time) dancing your ass off at the silent disco. For 2016, the festival is offering pre-festival education materials to help you get even more out of your experience. This one is definitely on our list.

White Party Palm Springs
Where: Renaissance Hotel (Palm Springs, CA)
When: April 8 - 11

Touted by some as the largest gay dance music festival in the country, Jeffrey Sanker’s White Party Palm Springs draws >30,000 attendees each year. This festival attracts DJs from all over the world, and has events like the Wet ‘n Wild Water Park party and the massive sunset tea party (featuring a carousel and special celebrity performers). What more do you need to know? 

Further Future
Where: Moapa River Indian Reservation (Las Vegas, NV)
When: April 29 - May 1

Nevada may seem a bit far, but who isn’t looking for an excuse to head to Vegas? And Further Future, which is founded by the team behind Burning Man’s Robot Heart, is gives you just that. In addition to grooving to acts like Caribou, Four Tet, Lee Burridge, Easy Star All-Stars, Kid Koala, and many more, you’ll be participating in a modern social movement. Yep, this festival aims to promote cultural change by bringing together like-minded individuals in the realms of music, art, science, and innovation. Get your progressive thinking cap on! FYI you will need to fill out a brief questionnaire to request an access code before you can purchase tickets, but we think this experience would be well worth it.

3rd Annual Sabroso Craft Beer & Taco Festival
Where: Oak Canyon Park (Silverado, CA)
When: April 30

This is the 3rd Annual Sabroso Craft Beer & Taco Festival. I don’t really think this needs any more explanation but that there will be beer here, and cheap tacos. Also, Sabroso translates to “tasty.” Enough said. 


Tiburon Wine Festival
Where: Point Tiburon Plaza (Tiburon, CA)
When: May 14

Another non-EDM focused festival that caught our eye was the Tiburon Wine Festival. If you want to feel cultured and take in the beautiful views that Tiburon offers, head up to this festival and sample the best of popular local wine and food. There is also live music AND, if you’re feeling really classy, silent auctions. Go, mill about, and practice adulting. Or bring a boombox, wear rave gear, and tear the place up. Either way.

California Festival of Beers
Where: Madonna Inn Meadows & Expo Center (San Luis Obispo, CA)
When: May 17 - 28

This beer fest is in its 30th year. That is a lot of years. That + beer = go.

Where: Stafford Lake Park (Novato, CA)
When: May 21

This is the inaugural Marinfields festival, presented by Concert Jones, and its being thrown at a pretty sick looking outdoor lakeside venue. We always love picturesque backdrops to our festivals, and since we are so close to Marin, checking out this brand new festival seems like a no-brainer. Marinfields is co-headlined by Michael Woods and Third Party, joined by Robbie Rivera, Max Vangeli, George Acosta and Jason Vernau. A nice little experience for a daytime EDM fest. Oh and you can tailgate in the parking lot before the festival starts. Hell yeah.

Sacramento Music Festival
Where: Old Town (Sacramento, CA)
When: May 27 - 30

This festival kicks off with a PARADE in the streets of Old Sacramento. Who doesn’t love parades? This is another non-EDM pick on our list, but if you like soul, blues, swing, big band, and/or bluegrass, you might just want to add this to your festival rotation this year.  

California Roots Music & Arts Festival
Where: Monterey Fairgrounds (Monterey, CA)
When: May 27 - 29

We couldn’t add non-EDM festivals to this list without adding a reggae festival. The California Roots Music & Arts Festival offers good vibes and a stacked reggae lineup, including Slightly Stoopid, Stephen Marley, Rebelution, Atmosphere, and The Expendables.  You’ll also find live art installments, tons of great food options (including vegan and vegetarian fare), and brews aplenty. We’ve also heard there is offsite camping provided, if you wanted to make a weekend out of it!


40th Annual Summer Arts & Music Fest
Where: Benbow Lake State Recreation Area (Garberville, CA)
When: June 4

If you’re into transformational festivals, check out the Summer Arts & Music Fest, now in its 40th year. This festival has received many “best of” accolades, and has numerous activities for you to enjoy, including the Generation Green Dome and the Belly Dance Temple (awesome). For its 40th anniversary, the festival will feature more than 100 unique performances and nearly 120 craft, food, and non-profit vendor booths. If you wanted to go on a field trip to Humboldt County, this can be your ticket (and they’re cheap, too).

What the Festival
Where: Wolf Run Ranch (Durfur, OR)
When: June 17 - 20

Now, you might actually already know about this festival, but we just couldn’t help including it because we are DYING to go this year. This festival has been totally blowing up in recent years, maybe because it is described as “summer camp for adults” and “the millennial generation’s Woodstock.” Whatever the reason, if you think you’ll like camping, dancing in the Splash Pool Party, hitting up the hookah lounge, the spa, or the enchanted forest, or our personal favorite (you guessed it) dancing your ass off at the silent disco, you will love What the Festival. And Phase 1 of the lineup has promised us Bonobo, Claude Vonstroke, Claptone, Lettuce, and Thievery Corporation. Consider our tickets bought.
$250 - $350 | Get Tickets

Beer Camp Across America: San Francisco
Where: Pier 35 (San Francisco, CA)
When: June 18

Like beer? Want to try the 6 originally created, limited-edition craft beers offered up by regional teams consisting of over 30 brewers from across America? Then Beer Camp Across America is the festival for you. It is only hitting six cities to serve up these 6 special beers (as well as hundreds of others), so make sure you find yourself at the SF stop of this unique beer fest to try them on for size.

High Sierra Music Festival
Where: Plumas County Fairgrounds (Quincy, CA)
When: June 30 - July 3

Another festival you might know, but that we wanted to make sure to get the word out about is High Sierra Music Festival. This year, High Sierra will feature artists like Thievery Corporation, The Floozies, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Greensky Bluegrass. Oh and did we mention that there are THEME DAYS where you get to dress up in costumes ranging from 60’s Sunday to Stars & Stripes. Hell yeah: Halloween in July. This festival features an art house, a magic foam tub, and movement classes. We’ve had this on our list for a while and are hoping this year will be the year!


Woogie Weekend
Where: Oak Canyon Park (Silverado, CA)
When: July 8 - 10

It’s no secret we love the Do LaB’s, and if you haven’t heard of Woogie Weekend we are a little worried about you, but so you know, this festival is literally paradise for house and techno fans. Inspired by the Woogie Stage at Lightning in a Bottle, Woogie Weekend offers major festival production in a more intimate environment. Head there this year to see acts like: Autograf, Moon Boots, Way Out West, Danny Daze and Pumpkin. Another month, another amazing camping festival. Add this to your list for July 2016.


Burning Man
Where: Black Rock City (Black Rock Desert, NV)
When: August 28 - September 5

Jk, lol. You know this one.


TBD Fest
Where: The Bridge District (Sacramento, CA)
When: September 2016 (Date TBA)

What started as a one-day art exhibition has evolved into a three-day festival, showcasing not just great DJs but artists, boutiques, chefs, craft beer, and wine alike. Last year’s festival lineup included RL Grime, The Glitch Mob, , Holy Ghost!, Purity Ring, Toro Y Moi, Pretty Lights, Chance the Rapper, Chromeo, Porter Robinson, and Tears for Fears. A short drive from SF, this September festival is a great choice to help wean you off the summer festivals circuit.

Bay Area Vibez
Where: TBA (Oakland, CA)
When: Fall 2016 (Date TBA)

A festival in Oakland! Proximity aside, last year’s lineup included Bassnectar and Aloe Blacc, so we are excited to see what acts they offer this year so we can hop on the Bart and have our fun at Bay Area Vibez 2016.


Dirtybird Campout
Where: Oak Canyon Park (Silverado, CA)
When: October 7 - 9

Another summer camp for adults, you’ll leave this festival feeling like you want to quit your job and become a camp counselor. And, you’ll be supporting the amazing Dirtybird label, which we love not just for its music but for its sick merchandise.  We missed this last year but won’t be making that mistake again. Rage on.