FestPop Guide to The Arizona Music Festival Scene


 When you think of music festivals Arizona is probably the last state to come to mind. But, with the growing popularity of music festivals we’ve seen these events popping up everywhere, even here in the desert. I will admit by being a Las Vegas native I did not expect much from the music scene when moving to Arizona to attend Arizona State University. To say my mind was blown after I moved would be putting it lightly. In my four years of living in Arizona I have attended a plethora of amazingly unique and high energy festivals from Tempe to Tucson. Here a breakdown of a couple of my favorite festivals that you can check out if you ever find yourself in the desert.

Summers End Music Festival

Tempe Beach Park Tempe,AZ

Summers End is a 3 day music festival that takes place in the heart of downtown Tempe at scenic Tempe Beach Park. For those of you who don’t know Tempe Town Lake is a giant manmade lake and river that runs through the main parts of Tempe. Its a great place for various activities such as jogging, paddle boarding, and rowing. The beautiful landscape and large amount of open space make this park the perfect area for Summers End music festival to take place. Each year’s lineup consists of nothing less than an Indie lover’s dream. Some of notable acts that will be performing at this year’s Summers End include Taking Back Sunday, Switchfoot, Capital Cites, and Foster The People. Although Summers End Music Festival is a three day event, single day tickets can be purchased on the official website.

FestPop Tip: Student discounts are available to Arizona State University Students, high school students, and veterans with valid identification. If you check out the Summers End website you can print out your tickets at home which will help cut time in line.


Sound Wave Music Festival

Scottsdale, AZ

I remember the first time I heard of Sound Wave and thought to myself “Water park rave? Count me in!” Sound Wave definitely is not like true underground raves of the past but, it is a awesome single day festival featuring some of the biggest names in EDM. Past headliners include major DJs such as Kaskade, Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, and Tiesto. Now, lets get back to the water part. If the A-list talent wasn’t enough to pull you in, you should know that in past years Sound Wave has taken place at Big Surf water park. Very few feelings can compare to the joy you feel when your raging in full swimwear at water park with your friends and favorite DJ. Definitely my cant miss event of the year.

FestPop Tip: This festival always offers lockers to store your personal belongings. This gives you more time to enjoy the festival rather than worrying about dropping your phone.


True Music Festival

Salt River Fields Scottsdale, AZ

Last year, True Music Festival was introduced to the desert showcasing the most diverse lineup ever seen at a music festival in Arizona. True music festival features an eclectic mix of artist that will leave the crowd nothing short of satisfied. Last years artists ranged from headliner Wiz Khalifa, to dubstep veterans Bassnectar, and even longtime indie favorite HelloGoodbye. Although True Music Festival takes place in the winter time you will barely be able to tell when your dancing under the perfect Arizona weather. In the land of pool parties in January you cant really go wrong when attending any festival all year round.

FestPop Tip: Scottsdale had numerous forms of transportation for large groups such as Uber, Lyft, and the Big Orange Bus. Check out one of these companies before you shell out money on a cab.


McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Margaret T. Hance Park


McDowell Mountain Music Festival is a three day music event that takes place in the Arizona capital of Phoenix. Currently, this is the only festival in Arizona that gives 100% of it’s profits to charity. The Phoenix Children’s Hospital and UMOM New Day Centers are two notable charities whom the McDowell Mountain Music Festival will donate profits to. Community involvement, corporate participation, and charity are the three values McDowell Mountain Music Festival wishes to promote at the event. This is a great music festival for locals who want to have fun and listen to awesome music while also supporting their community. Another cool feature that makes this festival unique has to be the on site camp grounds. You can purchase camping passes that will give you access to the camp grounds and shower area for all three days of the festival. The 2015 lineup consists of a unique mix of artists from varying genres all of which are known for giving amazing live shows. Some notable acts include Ben Harper, Charlie Musslewhite, California based band Slightly Stoopid, and highly buzzed about newcomer Gramatik.

FestPop Tip: Cant stop dancing? Then make sure to check out the after party in the Crescent Ballroom or Renaissance Hotel .


Gem & Jam Festival

Tucson, AZ

Gem & Jam festival takes place each year during the Tucson Gem and Mineral show. Gem & Jam gives us a festival where individuals can come together to enjoy live music and art while interacting with other positive souls. Theres no denying the good energy that goes around during this 3 day festival. Some attribute this to mystical properties of the thousands of gems being sold and displayed in the area. At any time you can stop by one of the numerous vendors to check out some of the handmade items being sold. Gem & Jam has a strong electronic lineup with a dash of neo soul and hip hop. Past headliners include Purity Ring, Mimosa, Boombox, and Matt Haze.

FestPop Tip: Theres live paintings and drawing workshops for those who want to explore their artistic side during the festival.


As you can see there is much more to the Arizona festival scene than meets the eye. Since moving here I’ve seen numerous music festivals introduced each year and honestly I can see why. One of the main reasons for this is that Arizona is home to two of the largest and rowdiest universities in the country: Arizona State University and University of Arizona. Although these schools hate each other if theres one thing they have in common its a love for good times and good music. On top of that Arizona has some of the most beautiful weather year round that makes it an ideal destination for outside music festivals. This fact alone is why I see more music festivals making their way to the desert in the years to come.


 Written by FestPop Sr. Staff Writer
Tatiana Woods
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