Summer music festivals are well known for overpriced beer and teens puking in Porta Potties. But they don’t have to be that way. They can also be excellent events around which to anchor an awesome bachelor party weekend. All you gotta do is know where to look.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest
April 28-May 7, 2017
Don’t let the name fool you. This long-running fest is a 10-day orgy of interdisciplinary delights, taking in a huge range of music. 2017’s line-up included acts ranging from Widespread Panic and Snopp Dogg to Kings of Leon and Stevie Wonder. Festival sets take place during the day under a glorious sun at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, but the real action goes down at night with shows blowing up all over the city from bigger clubs like Tipitina’s to legendary local joints like Snug Harbor. Sure you could wade your way into the French Quarter to get a lap dance at the Hustler Club, but to stumble out of The Maple Leaf at 4 am is to truly experience this one-of-kind city.
New York City
Consistently packing in one of the best lineups in the festival game since its 2011 founding, this relative newcomer has helped revitalize the oft-overlooked Randall’s Island. This year’s eclectic lineup including Chance the Rapper, Lorde, Wu-Tang Clan, and Tool. While an escape to this small island sandwiched between Manhattan, The Bronx, and Queens may not seem like an exotic trip for NYC residents, it’s perfect for a group of dudes from Cleveland looking to get weird in the Big Apple. For a real NYC experience, avoid Times Square and instead opt for Lower East Side haunts like 169 Bar or Piano’s. A trip to Williamsburg is also an option, provided you mustache and beard game in on point.
While everyone and their model girlfriends flock to Coachella, this more city-centric fest (previously known as “Fuck Yeah Fest”) has flown under the radar until recently. The fest can always be counted on for an excellent lineup (this year including Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, Iggy Pop, and A Tribe Called Quest) at its downtown location at Exposition Park, enabling easy access to the hipster bars of Silver Lake or the strip clubs of Hollywood. (While we’re on the topic, The Body Shop in West Hollywood is a local favorite and The Smog Cutter is primed and ready for your karaoke humiliation.) While you’re in LA, you would also be wise to venture out near the water to Venice’s fabled Hinano Café or grab a slightly more upscale view of the ocean over cocktails at Hotel Erwin’s High Rooftop Lounge.
North America’s largest music festival is not nearly as groundbreaking as it once was, but it’s still one helluva party. Bringing 300,000 fans to downtown’s Grant Park, with dozens of aftershows unfolding at legendary local clubs like Metro and Empty Bottle, you can’t really say you’ve done a summer festival until you’ve done Lollapalooza (this year featuring Arcade Fire, Chance the Rapper, and The Killers). Chat up fellow out-of-towners at the lively Congress Hotel bar after the headliner sets, or make your way out into the neighborhoods like Wicker Park or Logan Square to get a true feel for the city. Also, it’s never a bad idea to take in a game or two at Wrigley Field (the World Champion Cubs take on the Nationals that weekend.)
Montreal is famous as a strip club town. This is not news. What might be news to your crew is the amazing music scene nurtured in this ridiculously charming cultural capital, featuring standout indie acts from Arcade Fire to Wolf Parade. Many of those acts are featured on the typical lineup of the yearly Osheaga festival (this year featuring The Weeknd, Muse, and Lorde). Osheaga is held in the beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau, on downtown’s Saint Helen’s Island. Consistently ranked as one of the best festivals to attend by fans (and play by artists) Osheaga’s friendly, no hassle vibes extend to all corners of the city. While you’re here, be sure to hit a classy mixology bar like Le Lab before diving into a massive bachelor party dinner at Joe Beef. You’re gonna need the stamina.
It’s a festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, but don’t assume it will be a retro-Height-Ashbury vibe. This year’s lineup includes positively un-hippie-ish bands like Metallica, Gorillas and Lorde. Not yet convinced? How about chef’s demonstrations, mixology pop-ups, mini golf, and an arcade? How about a fancy four-course feast in the forest? How about 100+ wines, a comedy stage, and a private disco? How about the fact that you are in one of America’s best party cities surrounded by hiking trails and nude beaches? Need we go on? Okay there’s also AT&T Park, one of the coolest ballpark in America situated right on the San Francisco Bay. Case closed.
Life Is Beautiful
Obviously, it’s not unusual to plan a bachelor party in Vegas (hell, half this site’s content is about just that), but planning one around the excellent and perennially underrated Life Is Beautiful festival in downtown Vegas is. Trade in the tourist cheese of the Strip for some Fremont Street character as this multipronged festival brings together music, art, food, and guest speakers for an unforgettable experience. Stroll 18 city blocks of downtown Vegas real estate where trippy murals, music stages, and old-time Vegas character overwhelm the senses (without having to throw a thong in your face.) If you want to go the strip club route you’re more than welcome, but you can get just as crazy at pool parties like Marquee or late-night clubs like Surrender.
For something a little different, how about a trip to Iceland? And there’s no better time to visit this increasingly popular bachelor party destination than Iceland Airwaves, the annual 5-day bacchanal of effortless cool that takes over the capital city of Reykjavik every fall. Evolving from a small show held in an airplane hangar to a premier SXSW-style international showcase of new music, Airwaves is a great opportunity to stumble upon your new favorite (and weirdest) band. Hang out with artists in between sets at the Blue Lagoon outdoor hot springs party or head out into the surrounding area to experience the rugged beauty of its stark landscape. What this festival lacks in big-name talent it more than makes up for in fun and intimacy.