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Arts & Life

The 2018 Iowa Summer Music Festival Guide


The music festival scene in Iowa gets bigger and better every year! It's an exciting time for live music fans in our state, but it can also get a little overwhelming if you're trying to make plans for the summer. We're here to help with our list of festivals happening in Iowa. If you see something missing, tweet us @IPRStudioOne. To learn more about these festivals, and to hear interviews with many of the organizers, check out The B-Side, IPR's music blog.

Des Moines Arts Festival - June 22-24

About: From the website: "Those who have experienced the Des Moines Arts Festival would not be surprised to know that this annual event has become a remarkable international phenomenon. The Festival has evolved since its first edition in 1958, when the "All Iowa Art Fair" was hosted on the grounds of the Des Moines Art Center. While the event name and venues have changed through the years, the Festival mission remains unwavering - to educate, inspire and engage audiences toward a heightened appreciation of the arts."

Tickets: None needed, but VIP access available

Location: Western Gateway Park, Des Moines

Camping: No

Iowa City Jazz Festival - June 29-July 1

Credit JazzInk

About: From the website: "Come down for a three-day weekend of live Jazz performances, delicious dishes, and cap off the weekend with a full blown fireworks display over the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest lawn. You’re sure to enjoy the music from all four stages, which showcase a variety of well-known jazz musicians and up-and-coming talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages. Bring a blanket, chair, or come sit in our beverage garden and get ready for a weekend Jazz extravaganza!"

Tickets: No

Location: Clinton Street, Iowa City

Camping: No

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival - July 6-7


About: From the website: "It all started in 1985 with the Blues Festival. Thirty years later, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival had been considered by many festival attendees and major blues magazines to be among the top blues festivals in the country. Funding shortfalls forced us to cancel the Festival in 2015. We hope to regroup and bring back the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival as soon as possible. Held in picturesque LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, the Fest had a decidedly down home and non-commercial feel to it that let fest-goers sit back, relax and enjoy an incredible lineup of blues talent. The list of past and present Fest performers reads like a virtual Who's Who of the Blues. Many featured performers have received Blues Music Awards and nominations; others have received Grammy Awards."

Tickets: Friday $15 - $20, Saturday $25 - $25, Both $35 - $45

Location: LeClaire Park, Davenport

Camping: No

80/35 Music Festival - July 6-7


About: From the website: "80/35 is an annual two-day progressive indie music festival in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. As many as 50 national, regional, and local bands perform on multiple stages. The 11th annual 80/35 will take place on July 6 and 7, 2018 at Western Gateway Park." In addition to the main stage, located at Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park, there are two smaller free stages, as well as the Generation Z stage and Iowa Public Radio’s own stage, where select festival artists will perform brief sets. About 30,000 people have attended 80/35 each year since 2008.

Tickets: 1 Day $49 - $55, 2 Day $75 - $95, VIP - $195 (Only necessary for main stage area)

Location: Western Gateway Park, Des Moines

Camping: No

Saturday In The Park - July 7

Credit Team Creative Fire

About: From the website: "Saturday in the Park is an annual festival that is held at the Grandview Park Municipal Bandshell in Sioux City, Iowa. Started in 1991, the festival falls on the Saturday closest to the 4th of July and attracts around 25,000 people from all over the Midwest for the weekend. The festival coincides with an annual pilgrimage of representatives from Sioux City’s sister city, Lake Charles, Louisiana, adding a a Mardi Gras-inflected Cajun accent. Saturday in the Park is one of the premier festivals in the upper Midwest and is best known for its eclectic mixture of musical traditions. Live music acts are offered throughout the day at one of two stages located within the park."

Tickets: None

Location: Grandview Park, Sioux City

Camping: No

Camp Euforia - July 12-14


About: From the website: "Camp Euforia started in 2004 as Eufórquestra's "Fan Appreciation Party." Since then, it has grown into a full-blown music festival featuring 20+ artists over three days on two stages. Eufórquestra's goal in creating Camp Euforia has always been a seamless gelling of Community and Music. The festival focuses on the Iowa City music scene, but each year a handful of performers from across the country and Eufórquestra's touring friends are invited in to come and experience the magic! In 2004 Eufórquestra was based in Iowa City and decided to host their own music festival.They established a connection with a local farmer Jerry Hotz and asked him to partner with them by hosting Camp on his farm. Jerry was just as excited about the idea as the band was. The festival has been held on Jerry's property since its inception and as a result Eufórquestra and Jerry have become great friends as well as partners. As Eufórquestra's music has evolved so has Jerry's farm."

Tickets: $70-$100

Location: Lone Tree

Camping: Yes

Hinterland Music Festival - August 3-4


About: From Consequence Of Sound: "Hinterland Music Festival, August 3 – 4, 2018, is two days of music curated for people who love both music and the outdoors. True to its name, Hinterland is held in St. Charles, a beautiful rural escape just outside Des Moines, Iowa. The annual festival features a blend of music, camping, art, craft vendors, family engagement and more. The inaugural Hinterland, held July 31 – August 1, 2015, established a fresh and unique music festival getaway that thousands look forward to every summer. Hinterland is organized by First Fleet Concerts."

Tickets: Friday Only $49, Saturday Only $59, 2-day $95, VIP 2-Day $256 (Sold out but can sign up for waiting list) (kids under 12 are free with a paying adult)

Location: Avenue of the Saints Ampitheater, St. Charles

Camping: Yes

Listen to Mark Simmet's interview with Hinterland Music Festival organizer Sam Summers.

515 Alive Music Festival - August 17-18


About: From Catch Des Moines: "Organizers of 515 Alive Music Festival, a two-day electronic and hip-hop event in its 16th year, announced plans to return August 17 & August 18 to Water Works Park, its second year at the location. Following years of bouncing between downtown, Western Gateway Park and East Village venues, the festival turned to Water Works to host the 2017 edition, adding overnight camping to event amenities. The festival brought five stages and about 80 acts to the park last August. Past acts to appear at the festival include Excision, Machine Gun Kelly, Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane, Tech N9ne, Zeds Dead and more. Camping, for attendees age 18 and up, plans to be offering again in 2018."

Tickets: 2 Day Pass $99.95, 2 Day VIP Pass $159.99

Location: Waterworks Park Des Moines IA

Camping: Yes

Alternating Currents Festival - August 23-26

Credit Alternating Currents

About: From the website: "Music. Film. Comedy. Art. - On Aug 25 & 26, downtown Davenport will be brimming with energy as over a dozen venues host a wide variety of original live music, film screenings, comedians, and visual artists. Check out over 50 acts, screenings, and art events; patrons are encouraged to travel from venue to venue and explore all downtown has to offer.  The festival is located in the heart of Downtown Davenport where you’ll find dozens of restaurants, shops, bars and more beyond our official venues. 100+ performances/events, 16 venues, 1 amazing downtown. The Downtown Davenport Partnership is hosting this festival for a variety of reasons; it gives us a chance to highlight our incredible cultural scene while also building-up the local businesses that make our downtown unique. We're big fans of the Quad Cities too; we couldn't think of a better way showcase this amazing gem on the Mississippi River to the world."

Tickets: $15 for whole weekend, or 5$ per show

Location: Downtown Davenport

Camping: No

Bowlful Of Blues - September 2

Credit Newton Daily News

About: This single-day blues festival is held at Maytag Park in Newton by the South Skunk Blues Society. Bowlful of Blues always features several Iowa blues musicians in addition to nationally-touring performers. There will also be performers in between the main sets, and Iowa Public Radio will be on hand to record the performances, which will eventually be heard on IPR’s Blue Avenue.

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the gate (15 & under free with an adult)

Location: Newton