Summer 2015 Guide to Women’s Music Festivals

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In 1997, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan helped to establish Lilith Fair, a short-lived but incredibly successful summer music festival dedicated to shining a spotlight on female performers.  Not only did Lilith Fair ticket and merch sales help raise more than $10 million for women’s charities across the United States — it also helped solidify the careers of bands and solo artists who went on to become international stars.  Some notable Lilith Fair performers over the years have included Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Dido, Tracy Chapman, India.Arie, Fiona Apple, and Pat Benatar.

Lilith Fair may have been laid to rest, but there are still plenty of other great music festivals geared toward celebrating the women of rock, hip-hop, electro, indie, and other genres, not to mention plenty of cross-overs who defy traditional labels. Take a chronological look at some of the up-and-coming women’s music festivals scheduled for summer of 2015.

June, 2015: Harlem, NY

Women of the World Festival (WOW)

  • Location — Harlem, New York, NY 
  • Venue — The Apollo Theater @ 253 W. 125th St.
  • Date — June 11 – 14
  • Tickets — Free to $35+
  • Past Performers — Macy Gray, Yuna
  • About — WOW was founded in 2011.  Located at the historically rich Apollo Theatre in the Harlem section of New York, WOW describes itself as a “multidisciplinary festival that highlights groundbreaking politically-conscious female artists, activists, and leaders from around the world.”

July, 2015: Wisconsin and NYC

40th Annual National Women’s Music Festival

  • Location — Middleton, WI 
  • Venue — Marriott Madison West @ 1313 John Q. Hammons Dr.
  • Date — July 2 – 5
  • Tickets — $20 – $340
  • Past Performers — Cris Williamson, Kate Clinton, Karen Williams
  • About — The National Women’s Music Festival calls itself “a four-day musical and cultural extravaganza that incorporates all facets of women’s lives,” including “workshops, concerts, comedy, theatre presentations, a marketplace, newly released films and videos, a live auction, spirituality series, [and] writer’s series.”  Now in its 40th year, the National Women’s Music Festival is one of the longest-running women’s festivals in the United States.

Ladies of Hip Hop Festival

  • Location — New York, NY
  • Venues:
    • Workshop, Battle — Adelante Studios @ 25 W. 31st St.
    • Showcase — Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre @ 405 W. 55th St.
  • Date — July 10 – 12
  • Tickets — $15 – $20
  • Past Performers — N/A
  • About — The Ladies of Hip Hop Festival, or LOHHF, is divided into three parts.  The Workshop pairs students with an “elite group of female artists from around the world” who are “qualified to pass on the traditions and techniques with accuracy and authenticity.”  The Showcase features a mix of new performers and “some of LOHHF’s favorites” and runs for a full day, starting at 8:30 A.M. and ending at 10:00 P.M. The Battle pits artists against each other in a rap smackdown spanning five categories: Hip-Hop, Popping, House, Waacking, and the special 7tosmoke Bgirl Session.

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August, 2015: Michigan

Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (Michfest)

  • Location — Grand Rapids, MI
  • Venue — “650 acres of remote Michigan woodlands, with options ranging from a solitary deep-woods camping experience to a fireside urban site with neighbors from around the globe.”
  • Date — August 4 – 9
  • Tickets — $75 – $750
  • Past Performers — N/A.  Performers scheduled for 2015 include C.C. Carter, Skip the Needle, Aima the Dreamer, Elvira Kurt, and Mimi Gonzalez.
  • About — The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, or Michfest, combines musical talent with social activism and a healthy dose of nature.  FYI: all attendees are required to pitch in with community services during the festival.

September, 2015: California and New Hampshire

Fabulosa

  • Location — Yosemite, CA
  • Venue — Spinning Wheel Retreat
  • Date — September 24 – 27
  • Tickets — $195 – $350
  • Past Performers — Past Fabulosa performers include Vicki Randle, Mirah, Yes Alexander, Bonfire Madigan, and Kaia Wilson.  The 2015 lineup features Micah Tron, DJ Chelsea Starr, Hearts of Animals, and Black Judge.
  • About — Similar to Lilith Fair, Fabulosa is half festival and half feminist fundraiser, with funds raised going toward women’s organizations around the U.S.

Stargaze Festival

  • Location — Barrington, NH
  • Venue — Barrington Shores Campground @ 7 Barrington Shores Drive
  • Date — September 25 – 27
  • Tickets — $160, 21+ only
  • Past Performers — N/A.  Stargaze is currently seeking artists to supply this year’s entertainment, including bands, DJs, and solo performers.  Send your submissions to beth [at] lesbiannightlife [dot] com.
  • About — Hosted by LesbianNightLife, Stargaze celebrates the LGBT community through a mix of music, camping, and the arts.

Got a demo to share?  If you’re an up-and-coming artist, Planetary Group wants to hear about it. Call our Los Angeles offices at (323) 952-5050.  Live on the East Coast?  Call us in Boston at (617) 517-4193.  You can also contact us online.