Since Oklahoma’s festival season lasts just as long as its tornado season, it’s important to take precautions for both. We’ve helped you with the former by compiling a detailed list of festivals that you can attend from as early as this weekend to well into fall. The majority of events take place in the summer, but none of them take place in any one Oklahoma locale, which is the best part.
Push your city limits and explore what the state has to offer, which happens to be a wonderful breadth of local music and art,. Stake your lawn chair for a night of bluegrass in Skiatook, jazz in Norman and rock in Pryor. Learn to play the fiddle, the mandolin or the acoustic guitar in the Arbuckles. Listen to internationally acclaimed chamber music from Carnegie Hall conductors and 10-year-old prodigies alike in Oklahoma City. It’s all just a road trip away.
American Heritage Music Festival
June 5-7, Grove
A three-for-one event, the American Heritage Music Festival will host the Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest and the Grand Lake National Clogging Contest the first full weekend of June at the Grove Civic Center and Snider’s Camp.
If you’re quick on the fiddle or faster on your feet, you can compete, too, and potentially be $1,000 richer by Saturday night. Register online for the fiddle fest and peruse the history of clogging by visiting grandlakefestivals.com, or you can call 918-786-8896.
Tallgrass Music Festival
June 5-7, Skiatook
Based on the schedule, Skiatook’s Tallgrass Music Festival is perfect for families with each night of music ending before 10 p.m. There’s also a concert especially for kids on Saturday morning featuring Scenic Roots, as well as an activity tent to keep them occupied after that.
If you want to keep moving while listening to bands such as Nu-Blu, The Roys, and Newton and Thomas, sign up to volunteer or participate in the festival’s band scramble Saturday night by placing your name and instrument you play in a jar at the information booth. We’re curious how this goes, so let us know if you’re brave enough to try.
June 7-14, Bartlesville
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, OK Mozart International Music Festival caters to centuries-old scores of classical music’s finest as well as current prestige among local, regional and national acts. Eight main stage concerts, a seven-part chamber series and over 50 showcase events that range from glass painting workshops to the Oklahoma Indian Summer Film Festival make the possibilities of your festival experience nearly incalculable. Luckily, it’s all happening in one week in one place: Bartlesville. To view the expansive schedule, budget for ticket prices and hop on the email list before the festival commences June 7, visit okmozart.com.
Jazz in June
June 19-21, Norman
What better way to spend a summer night than with Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks? That’s the headliner for this year’s Jazz in June festival in Norman. Hicks and friends will perform Saturday, June 21 in the grassy amphitheater at Andrews Park right by the Norman Public Library. The 31st annual festival will bring a multitude of local and out-of-state crooners and all-around smooth folks into many of Norman’s signature and historic venues for free.
Woody Guthrie Folk Festival
July 9-13, Okemah
It’s mid-July in Okemah—you know what to do. In the birthplace of Oklahoma’s favorite 20th century son, nearly two dozen local and visiting musicians will sing the sweet and solemn tunes of Woody Guthrie, who would have been 102 this summer on July 14. From Pastures of Plenty to the historic Crystal Theatre, artists such as Ellis Paul, John Fullbright, and Tulsa’s own Wink Burcham will channel the humble power of Guthrie’s stories through song and string picking, permeating the hot, dry heat of the small Oklahoma town.
Held July 9-13, the weekend closest to Woody’s birthday, the festival invites visitors to stay for the long haul and pitch a tent on Okemah Round-Up Club Arena’s camping grounds. The festival is essentially free, but you’ll have to dish out a couple dollars for your vehicles and modern-day amenities, like electricity and pet boarding.
Visit the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival for the full lineup, schedule and further details on camping and lodging. Get the shackles off your feet and head to Okemah to hear the soundtrack of our state.
Center of the Universe Festival
July 25-26, Tulsa
Still riding high from its successful inauguration into the Tulsa festival circle, Center of the Universe Fest is bringing more well-known headliners, including AWOLNATION, Fitz and the Tantrums, Twenty One Pilots on Friday followed by Young the Giant, Capital Cities and Cold War Kids on Saturday.
The festival’s energy is still the same, if not higher, but so are the ticket prices. It’s no longer a free event, so be sure to check out the different package options that range from $20 to over $150. One more thing—buy them early to avoid price hikes as the festival gets closer. There will be more than 100 bands and most likely thousands of people swelling the streets of downtown. Plan your must-see schedule here.
Jana Jae Fiddle Camp and Music Festival
Aug. 29-31, Grove
Festival season stretches well past summer in Oklahoma, just like the triple-digit temperatures more often than not. This Labor Day Weekend event will offer fiddle camp and a fish fry for all ages. Friday kicks off with a barbecue and bluegrass, and the duration of the weekend includes music workshops, master classes and group sessions before fiddle contests commence at night. Activities are informal and you can jam as long as you like Sunday afternoon. Just make sure to sign up beforehand online.
Bluegrass & Chili Festival
Claremore, Sept. 4-6
Chili, cars, crafts and Claremore, otherwise known as the “Four C’s” of a good time. Just over a half hour northeast from Tulsa, the 35th annual Bluegrass & Chili Festival will kick off Thursday afternoon at the Expo Center in Claremore. Admission is free, but if you need a little more convincing, visit the festival’s Facebook page.
Wiggle Out Loud
Sept. 14, Oklahoma City
Wiggle Out Loud will make its sophomore effort Sunday, Sept. 14 in Bicentennial Park in OKC. If it sounds like a childish name, that’s because it’s a festival geared toward kids and active lifestyles. Bands like The Doo Dads, Sugar Free Allstars, and Genevieve Goings of Choo Choo Soul will take the main stage while local kids groups will grace the community stage. The festival is free but donations are appreciated. For more information, visit the festival’s zany website.
Arbuckle Mountain Bluegrass Festival
Sept. 14-20, Davis
You know what beats biscuits and gravy, bingo and a golf cart parade? Biscuits and gravy, bingo and a golf cart parade in the mountains. And those are just some of the events surrounding nine bands performing during the Arbuckle Mountain Bluegrass Festival. Visitors are welcome to bring their acoustic instruments for workshops throughout the week, but the bare essentials include a lawn chair, good vibes and a ticket, or you won’t get food. See more on the festival’s site for details on this event and a similar fall jam in October.
Medicine Park Art Walk and Flute Festival
Sept. 20-21, Medicine Park
Just down the road from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Medicine Park will invite artists to show and sell their work to visitors. It’s a juried show, so those interested in submitting their work for the festival can do so by emailing three high-resolution JPEG photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 15. Cost for the two-day event is $50, and lodging options include Fort Sill, Lawton or the Wichita refuge area. For more information on the application process and on Medicine Park, visit medicinepark.com.
Sept. 27, Oklahoma City
Taking place rain or shine in the hub for Oklahoma City art, the Plaza Festival will bring the best of the capital city’s local talents, food and music to the Plaza District, located at 726 NW 16th St. Headliners, art exhibitions and activities have not been announced just yet, so stay updated at plazadistrictfestival.com and return to our list for updates.
Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival
Oct. 2-4, Guthrie
Bluegrass is an international genre. Festival founder, three-time national fiddle champion, and current resident of Guthrie Byron Berline realized that during his travels to China, Mexico, Australia, and Germany, according to the festival’s site. Past acts have come from across the pond, Western Europe and as far as the island of Japan. The cost is $65, and here’s the lineup for the festival.
Oklahoma Bluegrass Club Music Festival
Oct. 4, Del City
Each month the Oklahoma Bluegrass Club holds one-day music festivals on the first Saturday starting in October and running through April. The concerts feature three bands and several open jam sessions for professional and non-professional musicians of all ages. The monthly events are held at Kerr Junior High, located at 2300 S. Linda Lane in Del City. Parking is free, and food is plenty. Use the contact form on the club’s website for more information.
Totem Pole BBQ & Music Fest
Oct. 4, Foyil
This festival takes place at one of Oklahoma’s best roadside attractions — the world’s largest totem pole — in Totem Pole Park, located off Route 66. The music festival is free and family friendly. Bands, barbecue, and beverages will last from noon until 4 p.m.
Blair Bluegrass Festival
Oct. 23-25, Blair
In its seventh year, the Blair Bluegrass Festival will bring jams, door prizes, and a gospel show to Blair City Park in southwest Oklahoma starting on a Thursday night. If you’re game to stay the whole weekend, there will be RV sites and tent camping areas. Before then, you can check out the musicians lined up to play at the festival on its website, also make sure to check torturedivision.net where you will find the best music.