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Festival Season Is Here: Serious Music People Rejoice!

Madeleine King
Iowa Public Radio
A view from Iowa Public Radio's free stage at 80/35.

With great live music happening every weekend, it can be hard to plan your summers accordingly. Luckily, we're here to guide you through it.

Here are a handful of festivals that feature different genres of acts that we're especially excited are happening across the state this summer. Pro-tip: If you're looking to collect Iowa Public Radio summer swag, come visit our booth at The Des Moines Arts Festival, 80/35 and Hinterland. 

Tree Town Music Festival

When: May 23-26

About: Founded in 2013, Tree Town is a 15,000 person festival hosted in Forest City featuring country music acts. This year, the headliners are Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. The festival works with the non-profit Families of the Fallen and donates $10 from every ticket to the organization. 

Tickets: $160 for general admission, $75 for single day general admission

Location: Forest City

Camping: Yes

Kosmic Kingdom Music Festival

Credit Photo Courtesy of Kosmic Kingdom

When: May 31-June 1

About: Originally held in Saint Charles on the Hinterland grounds, the Kosmos Music Festival rebranded itself as Kosmic Kingdom and moved to Sleepy Hollow Renaissance Park in Des Moines last year. In addition to featuring up-and -coming EDM artists, the event features live painting and other kinds of art in a medieval kingdom.

Tickets: $84.95 for a two-day, non-camping pass

Location: Sleepy Hollow Renaissance Park, Des Moines

Camping: Yes

Des Moines Arts Festival

Credit Courtesy of the Des Moines Arts Festival

When: June 28-30

About: The Des Moines Arts Festival features visual arts of all kinds, as well as the Interrobang Film Festival and two stages of live music. There will be artist demonstrations and a student art exhibition, and some emerging Iowa artists have been given a chance to exhibit their work as well. Music can be heard at the Hy-Vee Main Stage and the smaller Roots Stage. IPR will be presenting Bo Ramsey's performance on Friday night at the Roots Stage.

Tickets: Free, but VIP packages are available

Location: Western Gateway Park, downtown Des Moines

Camping: No

Iowa City Jazz Festival

Credit Andrea Canter

When: July 5-7

About: The Iowa City Jazz Festival brings in nationally-known performers, and also presents opportunities for local talent and younger artists. This free festival takes place in downtown Iowa City, with a main stage and three side stages. There will also be performances at the Ped Mall and The Mill. Arts and food vendors will be on hand, along with a children’s activities area.

Tickets: Free

Location: Downtown Iowa City

Camping: No

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

Credit John Greenwood

When: July 5-6

About: One of the oldest music festivals in Iowa, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival has been hosted almost every year since 1985. While normally held in LeClaire Park in Davenport, the festival is relocating this year due to flooding, and will now take place at Murphy Park at The Bend Development in East Moline. Samantha Fish and the North Mississippi All-Stars will headline this year, and the lineup also includes some Iowa bands and musicians that will be familiar to fans of IPR’s Blue Avenue with Bob Dorr.

Tickets: $15 for Friday, $25 for Saturday, $35-45 for a two-day pass, children 14 and under are free

Location: Murphy Park in East Moline, Illinois

Camping: No

80/35 Music Festival

Credit IPR/Tony Dehner

When: July 12-13

About: Now in its 11th year, 80/35 has drawn national attention for featuring top independent musicians alongside up-and-coming acts and local/regional artists. Many of this year’s performers can be heard on IPR’s Studio One Tracks and Gas Money, and we’re particularly excited about indie rock legend Liz Phair being on the lineup. 80/35 has several stages, the most important one to visit being the Iowa Public Radio Stage, (duh!) which is free. Check back soon for our lineup announcement. 

Tickets: $45 for Friday, $55 for Saturday, $80-105 for a two-day pass

Location: 13th and Locust, Des Moines

Camping: No

Camp Euforia

Credit Photo Courtesy of Camp Euforia

When: July 18-20 

About: Camp Euforia was founded in 2004, when then Iowa City based band Euforquestra partnered with local farmer Jerry Hotz to host a fan appreciation party. The band members moved to Colorado in 2008, but return every year for Camp Euforia, which has grown over the years to include more than 20 artists appearing on two stages over three days.

Tickets: $110 for a two-day pass, $130 for a three-day pass, children 14 and under are free

Location: Utah Avenue, Lone Tree

Camping: Yes

Hinterland Music Festival

Credit IPR/Tony Dehner

When: August 2-4 

About: Hinterland is in St. Charles the first weekend in August. This year, it’s expanding to include Sunday at the request of many campers at the festival, according to organizer Sam Summers. Once again, the fest boasts a strong lineup, including two recent Grammy winners, Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves. It's rumored that IPR will be at Hinterland in force…. Come visit us.   

Tickets: $59 for a one-day pass (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday), $135 for a three-day pass

Location: Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater, Saint Charles

Camping: Yes

Grey Area

Credit Shadow Fox Photography

When: August 9-11 

About: The soil must be perfectly conditioned to grow music festivals in rural Lone Tree. Grey Area is another fest happening this summer in rural Johnson County. The event is hosted by Luke Tweedy of Flat Black Studio, where Iowa artists including William Elliot Whitmore, Elizabeth Moen and Crystal City have recorded in the last few years. The festival features a mix of folk, bluegrass and alternative rock. If you’re looking for a festival that is a strong showcase for Iowa musicians, check this one out.

Tickets: $40, children 16 and under are free

Location: Flat Black Studio Grey Area Acreage in Lone Tree

Camping: Yes

515 Alive Music Festival

Credit Photo Courtesy of Morgan Davidson

When: August 16-17

About: 515 Alive draws its name from the days before the creation of the 641 area code, which covers part of central Iowa. It has programmed hip-hop and electronic acts since it was founded in 2003 and has gotten bigger every year. Last summer, the festival moved from downtown Des Moines to Water Works Park to offer camping. 515 features fire dancing, aerial performance and live art in addition to music.

Tickets: $79.95-89.95

Location: Water Works Park, Des Moines

Camping: Yes

Alternating Currents Festival

Credit Photo courtesy of Alternating Currents

When: August 22-25 

About: One of the newer festivals on our list, Alternating Currents takes place over four days in Davenport, and hosts more than 100 artists at 16 venues. Although music is a major focus, the festival also includes arts, film and comedy. Some individual events require tickets to attend, but much of the festival is free. Alternating Currents has not announced a lineup or ticket information yet, so mark your calendars now and stay tuned.

Tickets: TBA

Location: Downtown Davenport

Camping: No

Tony Dehner is a Studio One Host
Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.