It’s no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also responsible for some of the most innovative and eclectic music festivals over the last few decades. From the diverse and multi-cultural art on display at Afropunk festival to some of radio’s biggest stars performing on an island a few miles from Manhattan, here are the hottest music festivals New York City has to offer.

5. Panorama

When Panorama festival first launched in 2016, it showed a ton of promise. For its inaugural year at Randall’s Island Park, organizers were able to pull in an impressive roster of headliners including Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem. The following year was equally dazzling, with Frank Ocean, Tame Impala and Nine Inch Nails on tap. And for 2018? Well, that year they got The Weeknd, Janet Jackson and The Killers. Yet last year AEG and Goldenvoice pulled the plug on the event, citing NYC Parks denial of their permit application to move to the event to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens as the primary reason. If a permit for the Queens site is approved, however, fans can expect this promising festival to return. shop panorama tickets

4. Afropunk Brooklyn

This annual arts festival may have started in Brooklyn, but in the 15 years since has expanded to Atlanta, Paris, London and South Africa. Comprised of live music, film and fashion produced by a culturally diverse array of artists, Afropunk Brooklyn draws in over 60,000 attendees annually. Notable performers at past Afropunk fests include Lauryn Hill, Gary Clark Jr., Lenny Kravitz and SZA. Details for the 2020 edition have yet-to-be announced. shop afropunk tickets

3. Hot 97 Summer Jam

While Hot 97 Summer Jam is technically a New Jersey-based festival, anybody living in the New York City area is familiar with it and thus it earns a spot on our list. Since 1994, the tri-state area’s most popular hip-hop and r&b radio station, Hot 97, has been hosting this massive summer throw-down at the equally massive Met Life Stadium. While 2020 event details remain scant, the 2019 edition saw Cardi B, Migos, Lil Nas X and Meek Mill performing on the main stage. shop hot 97 summer jam tickets

2. Electric Zoo NYC

Even those people who are deeply opposed to electronic dance music (you know who you are) have likely heard of Electric Zoo NYC. The massive EDM festival is held every year at Randall’s Island Park, with more stages and DJs than you can throw a (glow)stick at. Last year’s headliners included Diplo, Above & Beyond, Eric Prydz, Armin Van Buuren and Excision, just to name a few. Bored of the NYC edition? There’s also Electric Zoo’s taking place in Mexico, Brazil and Shanghai. shop electric zoo tickets

1. Governors Ball

Perhaps the most popular of them all, however, is the Governors Ball music festival. Also held at Randall’s Island Park in NYC, this event has been pulling in performers ranging from radio gold to bedroom pop, college indie to underground rap, since it begin back in 2011. To help celebrate the Ball’s 10-year anniversary, Tame Impala, Flume, Missy Elliot, Vampire Weekend, Stevie Nicks, Solange and Miley Cyrus will all take the stage throughout the weekend. However, fans under 18 hoping to attend will have to take note of the festival’s new age policy. shop governors ball tickets

New York City Music Festivals 2020

Festival Name Date
Winter Festival February 7-18
Christian Dance & Music Festival February 12
Ecstatic Music Festival February 29
New York Wind Band Festival March 7-11
New Colossus Festival March 11-15
Five Boroughs Music Festival March 18
New York Int’l Music Festival March 28-April 1
Brooklyn Folk Festival April 17-19
Bayou Brooklyn Music Festival May 13-15
Governors Ball June 5-7
Wakanda Music Festival June 20-21
Experience OZY Festival July 25
Afropunk Music Festival August 22-23
Electric Zoo August 28-30

(Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash)