Summer Music Lineup: Five Must-See Montana Festivals

 In Butte Culture, Montana

Music and summer are two things that just seem to go together, and people all across the world have recognized how perfect the pair is. Since the days of Woodstock and the Monterey International Pop Festival, music festivals and summer concert series have emerged in mass waves. These festivals offer ticket holders exciting lineups of iconic bands from every genre imaginable, as well as creative festival and camping experiences that leave quite the impression.

Lovers of camping and music, it seemed natural for Montanans to hop on the festival train — especially since we have such beautiful surroundings to offer both bands and festivalgoers. The appeal is in the setting, as well as the enthusiastic crowds. In recent years, Montanans have established their own summer sound, offering a variety of unique concerts and festivals. Several festivals are new to the Montana music scene, and they’re welcomed excitedly by locals and tourists alike.

In this list, we at Montana Connections name some of the great festivals happening in and around Butte — don’t miss out!

Peak to Sky Festival

Where: Big Sky, Montana

When: July 5-6, 2019

Headliners: Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Brandi Carlile, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Mike McCready, lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, strums orange guitar on stage
Photo courtesy of Billboard Magazine

Pearl Jam — one of the most famous bands from the Seattle grunge scene in the 1990s — has always had a soft spot in their heart for Montana. Bassist Jeff Ament grew up in Big Sandy, and the band has since graced various spots in the state with shows.

Mike McCready, Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist, strengthens these Montana roots even more this year by putting on the first annual Peak to Sky Festival in Big Sky. The festival lineup features performances from McCready, as well as other members of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses and the Foo Fighters. Peak to Sky will be held under the backdrop of Lone Mountain just two hours southeast of Butte.

Montana Folk Festival

Where: Butte, Montana

When: July 12-14, 2019

Headliners: Garifuna Collective, Jason Samuels Smith, Rosa Tatuata, Carolyn Martin

Woman wearing purple costume smiles as she plays fiddle on-stage at the Montana Folk Festival
Photo courtesy of the Montana Folk Festival

Butte’s own Montana Folk Festival, now on its ninth year — though this festival is actually the successor to the National Folk Festival, which was held in Butte from 2008 to 2010. Despite being an admission-free event, the festival brought more than $20 million in earnings for businesses in state-wide communities in 2009.

The festival is unique in more ways than one, however. The Montana Folk Festival showcases the rustic heritage of the Butte area, but also introduces festival guests to venerable genres like traditional Garifuna, Moroccan Gnawa, traditional Italian or Cuban salsa. With a schedule filled with free, family-friendly activities, travel the world without leaving Butte!

Headwaters Country Jam

Where: Three Forks, Montana

When: June 13-15, 2019

Headliners: Big & Rich, Kelsea Ballerini, Rodney Atkins

What better place to celebrate country music than in the rural communities of Montana? With huge headliners from the country scene, it’s easy to love this festival for its music — but, from a wild campground setting to regular tubing trips on the river, festivalgoers never end up bored at Headwaters Country Jam. And they never end up hungry or thirsty, either: Headwaters has a variety of vendors serving delicious beer and food, including local barbecue, all weekend long!

Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Where: White Sulphur Springs, Montana

When: July 25-28, 2019

Headliners: Patty Griffin, Shakey Graves, Bobby Bare, Colter Wall

Red Ants Pants Music Festival is an extension of the Red Ants Pants Foundation, which supports women’s leadership and the success of working family farms, ranches and other pillars of rural, agricultural communities. Located two hours northeast of Butte in White Sulphur Springs, Red Ants Pants Music Festival offers a full schedule of big-time music shows, fun fitness events, and activities with classic Western flair (like hay wagon rides!).

Livingston Hoot

Where: Livingston, Montana

When: August 8, 2019

A band plays on-stage to a fun crowd in the streets of Livingston, Montana, with mountains in background
Photo courtesy of the Livingston Hoot

Drive two hours east from Butte and you’ll find yourself in Livingston, Montana — a lively little town with a spirited culture. Each summer for the past four years, the Livingston Hoot has occupied the streets of Livingston for a single day of free, family-friendly music and activities. The Hoot is a great opportunity to explore the smaller communities in Montana, gaining an understanding for the rural areas that, to this day, act as the backbone of the state.

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