Move over Coachella: Why I prefer small & local music festivals

Don't get me wrong, I would love to be at Coachella right now, and I hope to go one day (I'm looking at you, sister-in-law!) and experience all the hype of big name acts, desert 'glamping' and Native American/hippie/somewhat confusing fashion statements. Some of my past favorites include Sunfest in Florida and Music Midtown in Atlanta.

But why do I prefer small local festivals? Simple. Because I've got a teeny tiny baby now. But the concept also applies to those on a budget and/or who don't have the luxury of taking time off from work to travel and party hard.

A lot of us dream about exotic travel locations and never get to explore our own backyards. (Unless we have out-of-town visitors!) But chances are we live near something fun and exciting going on, it's just a matter of looking for it. It's the idea of localism, as Elaine & Taylor from Local Wanderer wrote about, and Michelle from A Local Wander focuses her blog on.

Partying with said baby at Goodyear Lakeside Music Fest

Here are four reasons why local and small music festivals rock:


Say 'thanks but no thanks' to the $350+ big festival tickets. There are SO many festivals in Arizona during the Fall, Winter and Spring: music, food, hot air balloons, you name it, we've got it. I signed up to get my city's event newsletter (find it on the city's website or social media accounts!) and if something looks interesting, I add it to my personal calendar. If there is an entrance fee, I take it to good ol' discount websites like this or this and almost always find much cheaper tickets.

Lakeside chillin'


No need to take time off from work or travel for hours, a local festival is just a quick drive/walk away! Last weekend we attended the Goodyear Lakeside Music Festival and had a blast! The weather was incredible, the location beautiful, and there were families and pups everywhere. The best part, though - we could be home pretty quickly in case of a baby meltdown or code brown situation. (Neither happened!) 

Rocking his cowboy boots


Festival food can be hit or miss. For a food-lover like me, eating the fried/sugary/deliciously bad vendor food is part of the experience. And that way you get to discover and support local restaurants, food trucks and other vendors. At the GLMFest we had some greek food, vegetarian noodles and churros, while Baby tried to eat grass.


Now, I am fully aware that the actual music numbers are nowhere near as amazing at a tiny local gig as they are at a big one like Coachella. You're not going to catch Jack White, Florence & the Machine, Alabama Shakes and Alt-J playing at the local park, but you can still enjoy some sunshine, fresh air, and fun music nonetheless. Baby and I had a blast dancing away during the Blues Jam with Uvon Brooks & the Music Allstars.

My tiny dance partner

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon at all!

What are some cool things you've done in your area?

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  1. I definitely agree! I'm going to JazzFest in a few weeks and wondering how it's going to be. Have you been?

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Brittany! I've never been to JazzFest before but it sounds awesome (my fiancé loves Jazz!) so I'll look for your review if you do write about it! ;-)

  2. Arizona sure has some beautiful scenery! And baby Max is just a doll. So sweet.

  3. Love, love, looooovvvveeee the pictures!! Yes, Coachella is on the agenda for next year! (I can picture my flower child outfit already, heehee) I agree that it is more of a bucket list item to do ONCE more than likely, for the same reasons you just wrote about. I went to Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa which really improved this year. Modest Mouse was the headliner and the event was sold out. There were many local restaurants, brewers, and artisans that were there as well. The best part was that even though it was sold out, there was room to move and even put a blanket down without getting trampled!

    1. Sweet! You know I never made it to Gasparilla? I had heard mixed reviews, but I'm glad to hear you had a good time and it wasn't overwhelming! Love you!

  4. I have to admit that I didn't went to lots of music festivals. Now I am sorry about that!

  5. For some reason, I've never been to a music festival of any size even though I love live music. I'm in Austin but always seem to be out-of-town on vacation when SXSW happens here. I'll get there some day, although I don't think it qualifies as small.

    1. I love Austin, what a great town - I'm sure you don't need to attend a festival there to hear some great live music! Haha and I agree, SXSW was definitely not small. There's also Austin City Limits, which is on my bucket list too!


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About the Writer

I'm Louise, a Tampa Bay based Brazilian-American travel blogger. Join us as we learn and share the ins-and-outs of traveling with a toddler and our sweet rescue pup Oreo, while promoting local nonprofits and wellness along the way.