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Top 5 Blues Festivals in the US in 2024

Damn right, we’ve got the blues! And so do these Top 5 blues festivals – the best of ’em, no less! Scroll to see a countdown of some of the largest blues events in the country. Bonus – some of them are totally free of charge!

Step101, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chicago Blues Festival (Thu, 6 Jun – Sun, 9 Jun ; Illinois)

Adam Bielawski, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get ready for one of the biggest blues bashes worldwide – it’s none other than the colossal Chicago Blues Festival! And bonus – it’s also the largest free blues festival on the entire planet! Set across four days and four stages, this epic event draws in over half a million blues aficionados to Millennium Park in the heart of Chicago.

Chicago’s deep-rooted connection to the blues traces back to the Great Migration, with strong links to the Mississippi Delta region. The Chicago Blues Festival first hit the scene in 1984, just a year after the passing of Muddy Waters, often hailed as “the father of Chicago Blues”. Today, both international artists and local upswings pay tribute to the original spirit of the event in the form of blues, R&B, soul, rock, and gospel.

Waterfront Blues Festival (Thu, 4 Jul – Sun, 7 Jul ; Oregon)

dog97209, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via flickr

Save the dates for a blues extravaganza along the Willamette River’s west bank, featuring over 100 acts across four stages. Artist Gary Houston’s yearly unique poster art has been a festival highlight for two decades.

Since its inception in 1988, the 37th event in 2024 promises much more than just music. From Portland’s only large-scale pyrotechnic show on the 4th of July to blues cruises, late-night jams, and early-morning yoga, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy family fun, diverse bites (vegan, all the way to gluten free and carnivore!), and a variety of craft beverages, including beers, wines, lemonades, and cocktails.

Baton Rouge Blues Festival (Fri, 19 Apr – Sun, 21 Apr ; California)

Since its debut on the Southern Uni campus back in 1981, this festival has become one of the oldest blues gatherings worldwide. It’s all about highlighting swamp blues, a chill, rhythmic spin on Louisiana blues. The best part? It’s totally free and perfect for the whole fam! However, snagging a BFF pass gets you VIP perks like open bar and food, cool AC spots, and exclusive views.

Every year, Repentance Park bustles with over 50,000 blues fans ready to groove to the unique sounds of swamp blues. The 2024 lineup boasts stellar acts like Kenny Neal, Alabaster Stag, Black Joe Lewis, Nikki Hill, Bruce Lamb, Blues After School, and more. In the past, the event has featured famous names like Bobby Blue Bland, Marcia Ball, Phil Guy, Larry Garner, Ruthie Foster, and Charlie Musselwhite.

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Fri, 13 Sep – Sun, 15 Sep ; Colorado)

Nestled amidst breathtaking 13,000 ft mountains in the picturesque town of Telluride, this three-day festival is a haven for weary souls in need of rejuvenation. With a delightful blend of craft beers, blues tunes, and camping vibes, it’s the ultimate escape.

Featuring fifty-six microbreweries, an array of food and craft vendors, family-friendly activities, and a diverse mix of blues, funk, rock, jam, and gospel music, this festival offers something for everyone. And that’s not all – attendees can also enjoy hiking, a 5k fundraiser, free morning yoga sessions, and mountain biking adventures to fully immerse themselves in the stunning surroundings.

In 2023, the festival welcomed headliners like The Roots, Bonnie Raitt, The Revivalists, The Word, and The Robert Cray Band. Keep an eye on the website for the announcement of the 2024 lineup – you won’t want to miss it!

King Biscuit Blues Festival (Wed, 9 Oct – Sat, 12 Oct ; Arkansas)

Back in 1986, something special started, and now it’s become one of the most legendary blues festivals around. Held in Helena, Arkansas, where the blues story began decades ago, this festival has deep roots and a rich heritage. Every year for four days, tens of thousands of devoted blues fans gather to pay homage to the timeless blues tradition of the Mississippi region.

Helena is the birthplace of “King Biscuit Time,” the longest-running radio show ever. And from the very first festival, organizers have prioritized performers with ties to Helena over widespread fame. Despite its humble beginnings, the fest has expanded to feature six stages, each with its own lineup of blues artists.

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Inge Strauss