Best Music Festivals for Van Lifers to Attend in Southern California

What are the best music festivals in Southern California for any van or RV lifer to attend?

Answer:

The best music festivals for any van or RV lifer to attend in Southern California are:

  • Stagecoach
  • Coachella Valley Music Festival
  • Desert Daze
  • Joshua Tree Music Festival
  • Lightning in a Bottle
  • Ohana Music Festival
  • KAABOO

Criteria

There are two criteria for being an excellent music festival for van and RV lifers looking to get their groove on. The first criteria are that the music venue must have plenty of van or RV camping opportunities at the venue or within the local vicinity. If the music festival does not have local camping options, the aggravation of trying to find a place to stay at, do not warrant being on this list.  

The second criteria are that the music festival must be established and been around for many years. Most van and RV lifers know that planning is the key to success on the road. Many festivals come and go and are not reliable year to year. So it is essential to have a festival that you can plan for years out in advance.

Best Annual Music Festivals

Stagecoach Festival

Stagecoach is the largest country music festival in the world. It offers everything from country, bluegrass, classic rock, and alternative country music. The festival attracts more than 80,000 people a year and showcases some of country music’s biggest names.  Most notable performers include Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Brooks and Dunn, Taylor Swift, Luke Bryant, Garth Brooks, and many more. You will never be disappointed with the lineup at Stagecoach.

The festival is held every year at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA. It was first held in 2007 and has grown every year.

One of the most significant benefits of Stagecoach is that you could camp onsite. However, onsite camping rules and policies have changed a lot in recent years, so if you plan on staying at the venue, make sure you keep up to date on these policies.

But even if you cannot camp at the festival, there are plenty of established campgrounds, RV parks, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands located within 30 minutes of Indio. There is no shortage of camping possibilities at this festival; just make sure you reserve a campsite early.

My favorite location to camp for this festival is the BLM land, located on Joshua Tree National Park’s outskirts.

When & Where: TBD, Empire Polo Club, Indio Ca

Web Address: https://www.stagecoachfestival.com/

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is probably one of the most prominent and biggest festivals in the world. It is held before Stagecoach and offers music artists from many genres to include rock, pop, hip hop, electric, and much more.  

Coachella was first held in 1993 when the first big performer was Pearl Jam but has grown ever since. A few of the notable performers have been the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Madonna, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, Snoop Dogg, Guns and Roses more. It is probably all around the best music festival to attend every year.

The festival has also turned into an art and fashion scene over the last few years. Some top designers and fashion models have shown up to showcase their wear. The festival has also become a fashion institution, setting trends for what you will see at festivals throughout the summer. You will also find top-rated artists showing off their art as well. 

One of the most significant benefits of Coachella is the fact that you can camp onsite. However, camping rules and policies have changed a lot in recent years, so if you plan on camping at the venue, make sure you keep up to date on these policies.

But even if you cannot camp at the festival, there are plenty of campgrounds, RV parks, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands located within 30 minutes of Indio.

My favorite location to camp at is the BLM land located on Joshua Tree National Park’s outskirts.

When & Where: TBD, Empire Polo Club, Indio

Web Address: https://www.coachella.com/

Desert Daze

Desert Daze is the perfect small music festival located on a beach on Lake Paris. It is a fun festival with a good lineup that draws a crowd. It is fun to watch the light show at night over the Lake. The festival is not as big as Stagecoach or Coachella, but it is still a perfect venue for those van and RV lifers looking for something low-key.  Multiple performers have played here to include Wu-Tang Clan, The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, and many more.

One of the great benefits of having a festival at Lake Perris is the vast amount of camping options. At Lake Paris, there are five different campgrounds, but there are multiple campgrounds within a 30-minute drive if you do not want to stay there. Just make sure you reserve a campsite early.

When & Where: 1-2 Oct 2021TBD, Lake Perris, Ca

Official Website: https://desertdaze.org/

Website: Lake Perris State Recreational Area

Joshua Tree Music Festival

The Joshua Tree Music Festival is the perfect festival for van and RV lifers looking to spend time next to an iconic national park. The festival is very family-friendly, has a diverse crowd, and first took place in April of 2003. Music lovers will enjoy listening to live music in these beautiful surroundings. The genre of music includes dance, electric funk, and groove.

What makes this music festival so special is that it is a multiday campout. There are only a handful of multiday campouts a year offered around Joshua Tree. There are a variety of camping options for this festival. You can stay at the festival or camp at one of the campgrounds within or surrounding the area. You can also stay at BLM land, which is abundant in the area. You will have no trouble finding a place to camp for this music festival. Just make sure you reserve a campsite early because they do fill up.  

When & Where: TBD 2021, Joshua Tree

Official Website: https://joshuatreemusicfestival.com/

Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a Bottle music festival is an excellent experience for van and RV lifers. The festival has a laid-back vibe and opened to the public in 2004. The festival is in Bradley on the shore of Lake San Antonio near Paso Robles.

Lightning in a Bottle is centered around electronic dance music, ecological sustainability, community building, workshops, and yoga. A vast collection of bands has played at this festival to include Flume, Elohim, Lane 8, Dirtwire, Bob Moses, and much more.  Every year the festival attracts new bands.  

There are a variety of camping locations around Lake San Antonio. Most campgrounds seem to be around Lake Nacimiento and RV resorts in Paso Robles.  

When & Where: Memorial Day 2022, Bradley

Official Website: https://www.libfestival.org/

Ohana Music Festival

The Ohana Music Festival is one of the best festivals to attend for any van or RV lifer looking to enjoy music on the Beach. It is in Dana Point at Doheny State Beach. What is notable about this music festival is that each year half the proceeds go to local nonprofits to maintain California’s coastal parks. The music includes indie, surfer rock, and alternative music.

The festival always draws top-tier talent to include Pearl Jam, Eddie Vetter, Kings Of Leon, and much more. You will not be disappointed with the lineup at this festival.

Although this festival is in Orange County, there are plenty of campgrounds to accommodate you. These campgrounds include San Onofre State Park, Doheny State Park, and various other campgrounds located within a 30-minute drive. Of all the festivals on this list, this is my favorite. It is all about chilling on the Beach and listening to good music. You will also enjoy surfing at the same time the bands are playing. You cannot beat that.

When & Where: 24-26 Sept 2021, Dana Point

Website: https://www.ohanafest.com/

KAABOO

KAABO is the largest music festival in San Diego and is held at Petco Park in downtown San Diego. The music festival promoters wanted to be more than just music, including comedy, art, food, and much more. You cannot go wrong with all the restaurant and bar offerings around this festival.

The only downside to this festival is camping options. Since it is in the middle of downtown San Diego, there are no camping options next to the venue. The closest campground and RV parks are in Mission Bay and Chula Vista, about 15-minutes away. However, several campgrounds are available within a 30-minute drive on the outskirts of San Diego. Just remember that they fill up quickly, so make reservations.

When & Where: TBD, San Diego

Official Facebook Address:  https://www.facebook.com/KAABOOSanDiego/

Final Thoughts

Many fantastic music festivals take place every year in Southern California. These music festivals offer music from EDM, rock, country, funk, and every other genre. But the festivals that I think are best for van and RV lifers are the ones that are mentioned in this article. These festivals are unique and have been around a long time, and offer plenty of camping options. Having a stress-free and happy festival experience is the goal. You will not be disappointed with any of these festivals.  

References and Other Adventures

National Park
Bert Manning

Joshua Tree National Park

Besides a visit to the beach, a visit to Joshua Tree National Park is a must for any van or RV nomad exploring Southern California. The park offers excellent adventures to include camping, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, stargazing, and great geologic features that add to the wonder of this vast wilderness.

Read More »
Surfing
Bert Manning

San Onofre State Beach

San Onofre State Beach is a wonderful place for any van lifer to spend time camping and surfing on the California coast. The park is a 3,000-acre and 3 miles south of San Clemente on Interstate 5 at Basilone Road. The state park is leased to California by the United States Marine Corps.

Read More »
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