Skip to Content

Your 2023 Guide to Outdoor Minnesota Concerts and Music Fests

From Bon Iver by Lake Superior to Train on 9/11, there's a whole lotta live music going down this summer.


Vetter Stone Amphitheater in Mankato. Has Glen Taylor ever dropped acid here? Impossible to say.

Over the past dozen or so years, the list of Twin Cities-area music festival casualties has grown and grown. To name just a few... *inhales deeply*: Rock the Garden, Basilica Block Party, SoundTown, Soundset, Summer Set, 10K Sounds, 10K Lakes, Festival Palomino, Eaux Claires, River's Edge—whew!

But we're not here to dwell on the angels occupying Regional Music Fest Heaven; we're here to stuff your Google Calendar full of living, breathing outdoor entertainment options, from Mankato to Duluth. Gas up your compact SUV, grab some oxybenzone-free sunscreen, and crank the preverbal amp to 11: It's summertime concert season, baby!

Under the Canopy

When: May 11-October 13

Where: Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge, 3010 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis

Top Acts: Cornbread's 96th B-Day Party Extravaganza (May 11), Jeremy Messersmith (June 29), SUSSED-TACULAR: Celebrating New Music on Ed Ackerson's Birthday (July 16), and Turn Turn Turn (August 19)

Gist: "This is the largest amount of concerts we have ever announced at one time," booker Jesse Brodd of Nobool Presents told the Strib earlier this year. Sure enough, the blacktop space outside The Hook is stuffed to the gills with music this year, from reggae mini fests to John Prine tribute parties.

Tickets: $15-$35; click here for more info.

Live at Utepils

When: May 11-August 4

Where: Utepils Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave. N. #700, Minneapolis

Top Acts: The Wood Brothers (May 12), Michael Franti & Spearhead (June 9), Guster (August 4)

Gist: A fun use of a cool brewery's outdoor space near Theodore Wirth Regional Park.

Tickets: $36, but two of the three announced shows have already sold out. Hope you like Guster! Find more info here.


When: May 18-21

Where: Harmony Park Music Garden, 79503 298th St., Clarks Grove

Top Acts: Mickman, Moonsplatta, Mr. Carmack

Gist: Do I recognize a single act on this apparent rave's voluminous lineup? No, but I also can't dance and have never done molly. Visually, fans of laser lights and color projections will find a lot to like.

Tickets: $100-$220; find more info here.

Wild Nights at the Minnesota Zoo

When: May 25-September 14

Where: Minnesota Zoo, 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley

Top Acts: Yam Haus (May 25), Malamanya (June 8), Chastity Brown (June 22), the Cactus Blossoms (July 6), Joyann Parker Band (July 20), Nur-D (August 3), Information Society (August 17), Frogleg (August 31), Kat Perkins (September 14)

Gist: Thematic local showcases—i.e. Indie Rock night, Hip Hop & Reggae night, Americana & Alt Country night—sprinkled over nine dates at the zoo's amphitheater. But wait, that's not all: You also get critter-peeping access until 8 p.m., plus free parking, trivia, and a silent dance party.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Caterwaul Festival

When: May 26-29

Where: Palmer's and Mortimer's

Top Acts: Flipper, Cherubs, Hands Up Who Wants to Die, Whores, Multicult, Tongue Party

Gist: "With Caterwaul, you know you will get under-the-radar, cutting-edge music made with passion and commitment," organizer Rainer Fronz of Learning Curve Records says of the second annual noise-rock blowout. Bay Area punk greats Flipper are worth the price of admission alone.

Tickets: $30-$40 ($140 four-day pass); find more info here.

Vetter Stone Amphitheater

When: May 27-September 23

Where: Vetter Stone Amphitheater, 309 W. Rock St., Mankato

Top Acts: Gary Allan and Tracy Lawrence (May 27), Barenaked Ladies with Semisonic (June 10), Gov't Mule (June 23), Russell Dickerson (June 30), Blues Traveler with Big Head Todd and the Monsters (August 15), Kip Moore (August 26), Goo Goo Dolls with Fitz & the Tantrums (September 18), Billy Currington (September 23)

Gist: This gorgeous riverside venue is playing host to a whole lotta '90s rock 'n' roll nostalgia acts and country guys. The former category would've fit in nicely at Basilica Block Party, the drunken collection plate of yore.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Lowertown Sounds

When: June 1-August 24

Where: Mears Park, 221 5th St. E., St. Paul

Top Acts: Kiss the Tiger (June 15), Nur-D (June 22), Run Westy Run (August 17)

Gist: Proper, functioning cities should rock. With the annual, free, weekly, outdoor Lowertown Sounds program, St. Paul is privy to this in ways Minneapolis could really learn from. Organizers shared this year's 11-date lineup last month, and they note that over half of the acts are new this summer.

Tickets: Free; find more info here.

Loring Alley Live Music Festival

When: June 3

Where: Loring Park, 1382 Willow St., Minneapolis

Top Acts: Zoë Says Go, Vittorio and the Bridges, the Orange Goodness, Creeping Charlie, D'Lakes, and Carnage the Executioner

Gist: This family friendly, booze-free park party promises to celebrate "spring in the great city of Minneapolis and the rebirth of outdoor live music in 2023." We can get behind that! Bonus: My favorite taco truck in the city, Taqueria Victor Hugo, will be on site.

Tickets: Free; find more info here.

Treasure Island Amphitheater

When: June 10-September 16

Where: Treasure Island Casino, 5734 Sturgeon Lake Rd., Welch

Top Acts: Matchbox Twenty (June 10), Carrie Underwood (July 21), Jason Aldean (August 19), Staind (September 9), Trampled by Turtles (September 16)

Gist: Several different types of white, middle-age music fans will be pleased with this lineup featuring throwback rock, contemporary country, and the pride of Duluth's bluegrass scene.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Sparkyard Sound Series

When: June 13-August 17

Where: Bauhaus Brew Labs

Top Acts: Grace Potter (June 13), Shaky Graves and Lucius (July 28), St. Paul & the Broken Bones (August 17)

Gist: Stylistically, these 89.3 the Current-approved acts would've made sense in the middle of any Rock the Garden lineup. Don't believe me? Consider the fact the Current is sponsoring this brand-new brewery concert series, buddy!

Tickets: $45-$135; find more info here.

Winstock Country Festival

When: June 16-17

Where: Winstock Festival Grounds, 3233 230th St., Winsted

Top Acts: Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Gabby Barrett, Jordan Davis

Gist: The twenty-something dream of getting blackout drunk while wearing cowboy hats isn't exclusive to WE Fest (see below). No, it thrives in tandem at this 30th annual country drinking/camping fest located an hour west of the metro.

Tickets: $155 (camping extra); find more info here.

Blue Ox Music Fest

When: June 22-24

Where: The Pines Music Park, 5024 Crescent Ave., Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Top Acts: Pert Near Sandstone, the Avett Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Mike Gordon, Charley Crockett

Gist: Now in its 8th year, the bluegrassy Blue Ox fest is a feel-good success story. Yes, there's the draw of annual headliners Pert Near Sandstone performing among mature pine trees alongside likeminded roots/Americana/folk acts. But there's also yoga, meditation, disc golf, instrument and songwriting workshops, jam sessions, and art installations.

Tickets: $250 three-day passes (includes unreserved camping access); find more info here.

Lakes Jam Music Fest

When: June 22-24

Where: Brainerd International Raceway, 5523 Birchdale Rd., Brainerd

Top Acts: Hardy, Skillet, Dustin Lynch, Mitchell Tenpenny, Chris Lane, Soul Asylum

Gist: Billed as "the ultimate music festival experience in the Midwest," the 10th edition of Lakes Jam will bring 30+ bands to five stages. If you've got UTVs, ATVs, golf carts, and/or pit bikes, this Busch Light-sponsored fest claims it's the only one in the region that'll allow 'em. Stay safe out there...

Tickets: $109 daily or $149 three-day passes; find more info here.

Bayfront Festival Park

When: June 23-September 17

Where: 350 Harbor Dr., Duluth

Top Acts: Jon Pardi (June 23), Hippo Campus (June 24), Flo Rida with Twista (June 30), Hairball (July 3), Trampled by Turtles with Jenny Lewis (July 8), Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival (July 15), Bon Iver (August 2), City on the Hill Music Fest (August 3-5), Bayfront Blues Fest (August 11-13)

Gist: As noted by Duluth musician Kaylee Matuszak, there's not a single woman '23 headliner at this beautiful amphitheater on the shores of Lake Superior. Not good, though seeing the great Jenny Lewis ahead of Trampled by Turtles should be spectacular.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival

When: June 23-24

Where: Mears Park, 221 5th St. E., St. Paul (plus almost 20 other affiliated locations)

Top Acts: Paquito D'Rivera and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience, Camille Thurman, Christian McBride, Davina and the Vagabonds, Lucia Sarmiento, Nabaté Isles

Gist: Now in its 25th years, the Twin Cities Jazz Fest has become a true regional treasure. Show up, have a blast, and complain ironically about the notes that aren't being played as a bit that won't get old.

Tickets: Free; find more info here.

Somerset Amphitheater

When: June 23-August 29

Where: Somerset Amphitheater, 495 Main St., Somerset, Wisconsin

Top Acts: Outlaw Music Fest featuring Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Trampled by Turtles (June 23), Fall Out Boy (July 13), Sublime with Rome and Slightly Stoopid (July 27), the Lumineers (August 29)

Gist: Sign us the hell up for the Outlaw Music Fest! Catch us tubing down the Apple River during the other stuff!

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Surly's Festival Field

When: June 27-September 11

Where: Surly Brewing Co., 520 Malcolm Ave. SE, Minneapolis

Top Acts: Young the Giant (June 27), Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (August 12-13), An Evening with Ween (September 8), Train (September 11)

Gist: Lord help us, there's something darkly funny about Train performing on 9/11. Elsewhere on this year's itinerary: Much better bands perform much happier calendar dates, including elite weirdo rockers Ween.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Grand Casino Hinckley Amphitheater

When: July 1-September 8

Where: Grand Casino, 777 Lady Luck Dr., Hinckley

Top Acts: Grand Country Nights featuring Gary Allan and Justin Moore (August 11-12), RockTember Fest featuring Brett Michaels and Queensrÿche (September 8-9)

Gist: We dare you to find a delightfully stupider name than "RockTember Fest." Rocktober only works because "rock" sounds like "Oct"!! Setting that aside, both of these events are outside of our aesthetic purview, but god bless ya if you wanna attend.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Taste of Minnesota

When: July 2-3

Where: Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Top Acts: Third Eye Blind, Big Boi, Uncle Kracker

Gist: The two top-billed artists, in terms of draw, seem to be more like First Avenue headliners than festival ones, but who are we to quibble with a free event that city leaders are touting as downtown Minneapolis's big comeback?

Tickets: Free; find more info here.

Mystic Amphitheater

When: July 8

Where: Mystic Lake Casino, 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd. NW, Prior Lake

Top Acts: Rob Zombie with Filter

Gist: Rob Zombie is good, but is he a "rock icon"? According to the press release that landed this morning in our inboxes, he sure is. We're told Mr. Zombie will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of his debut LP, Hellbilly Deluxe, as well as the 20th bday of his debut horror film, House of 1,000 Corpses. Except more acts to be announced for Mystic's outdoor stage in the coming weeks.

Tickets: $59-$100; find more info here.

TC Summer Fest

When: July 14-15

Where: Target Field, 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis

Top Acts: The Killers, the Flaming Lips, Deathcab for Cutie, Imagine Dragons, AJR, Chealsea Cutler

Gist: I'm old enough to remember 2014's short-lived, unfortunately named, yet very fun "Indie Night" at Target Field. This similarly booked mini fest takes on a similar appeal, and thankfully utilizes one of the metro's most underused and best large-scale outdoor concert venues. Friday's lineup (Killers, Lips, Deathcab) is the one to catch (baseball term). You might need a Carlos Correa-sized bank account to attend, however (baseball analogy).

Tickets: $74-$406; find more info here.

Lakefront Music Fest

When: July 14-15

Where: Lakefront Park, 5000 Kop Pkwy., Prior Lake

Top Acts: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Darius Rucker, REO Speedwagon, Tyler Hubbard

Gist: If you're looking for a Father's Day present, this affordable fest benefits the local Rotary Club. Unfortunately, following the March death of guitarist Gary Rossington, Skynyrd now only boasts one heyday-era member, drummer-turned-frontman Rickey Medlocke.

Tickets: $65 nightly, $80 weekend passes; find more info here.

Moondance Jam

When: July 20-22

Where: Moondance Events, 7050 Turtle Lake Twsh 46, Walker

Top Acts: Hairball, Stone Temple Pilots, Spin Doctors, Rick Springfield, Gin Blossoms

Gist: Speaking of boomer dad rock, Moondance Jam has been catering to 'em since 1992 with "the campin' and jammin' event of the summer!"

Tickets: $100 daily, $125 three-day passes; find more info here.

Live at the Hilde

When: July 28-29; August 5

Where: Hilde Performance Center, 3500 Plymouth Blvd., Plymouth

Top Acts: Lauren Alaina (July 28), Andy Grammer (July 29), Indigo Girls (August 5)

Gist: Twin Cities booking firm Sue McLean & Associates was synonymous with Music In the Zoo for years. Now, it seems, SMA is spreading its would-be zoo acts across suburban stages like Plymouth's Hilde Performance Center and, as you'll see below, Burnsville's Buck Hill.

Tickets: $40-$225; find more info here.

The Great Beyond

When: July 28-30

Where: Minnesota River Valley Sanctuary, 62657 430th St., Franklin

Top Acts: AAmotik, Aurora Halal, Carlos Souffront, Marijuana Deathsquads

Gist: This appears to be a techno festival... I recognize Marjijuana Deathsquads... feel free to help me out in the comment section. Of this much we're almost certain: The festival grounds seem woodsy and pleasant.

Tickets: $250 three-day passes; find more info here.

WE Fest

When: August 3-5

Where: Soo Pass Ranch, 25526 Co. Hwy. 22, Detroit Lakes

Top Acts: Morgan Wallen, Brad Paisley, Kane Brown, Chase Rice, Brothers Osbourne, Gabby Barrett

Gist: Wallen emerged from his 2021 racial slur scandal as country's undisputed biggest star. I don't personally see what distinguishes the currently injured Tennessean, and perhaps that's one of many reasons why I'm not a Nashville A&R man. Launched in '83, WE Fest remains the king of Minnesota country fests.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.


When: August 10

Where: Target Field, 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis

Top Acts: Pink!

Gist: You get the idea. Opening are Pat Benatar with Neil Giraldo, Grouplove, and DJ Kid Cut Up.

Tickets: $120-$1,000; find more info here.

Minnesota State Fair Grandstand

When: August 24-September 4

Where: Fairground Grandstand, 1265 Snelling Ave., St. Paul

Top Acts: The Black Keys (August 24), the Chicks (August 25), Keith Urban (August 26), Boyz II Men and Chaka Khan (August 27), Happy Together Tour featuring the Turtles (August 28), Brandi Carlile with Wynonna Judd (August 29), Yung Gravy (August 30), Duran Duran with Bastille and Nile Rodgers (August 31), Jonas Brothers (September 1), the Hold Steady with Bob Mould and Dillinger Four (September 2)

Gist: Pretty damn solid lineup this year! We're stupid excited for the Hold Steady/Mould/D4 lineup, and curious about Rochester-launched Racket coverboy Yung Gravy. Minnesota's deep fascination with Brandi Carlile continues to confound me.

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Shangri-La Festival

When: August 31-September 3

Where: Harmony Park, 79503 298th St., Clarks Grove

Top Acts: Wookiefoot, Collie Buddz, Opiuo

Gist: Jam-heads: This is your jam.

Tickets: $164 two-day passes (camping included); find more info here.

Buck Concert Series

When: September 14-16

Where: Buck Hill, 15400 Buck Hill Rd., Burnsville

Top Acts: Jameson Rodgers (September 14), Drive-By Truckers (September 15), George Thorogood & the Destroyers (September 16)

Gist: Did you know Racket's de facto music editor, Keith Harris, was unaware of Buck Hill's existence, despite the fact it's the name of a damn Replacements song? Really makes you wonder about that guy. In any case, promoter Sue McLean & Associates says Buck Hill is "considered the best kept secret by music-goers in the Twin Cities."

Tickets: Varies; find more info here.

Bend of the River Festival

When: September 16

Where: Blakeslee Stadium

Top Acts: 38 Special, Elle King, Tim Montana

Gist: Elle King happens to the daughter of Rob Schneider, who you might remember from SNL and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Thus concludes our larger-than-expected outdoor summer concert preview.

Tickets: $48-$98; find more info here.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter