Art by Alexis Howick

There’s more to festival season than catching as many of your favorite bands as possible at one venue in one weekend. It’s an entire experience—from where you stay, to what after-show you’re attending, to what witty shirt you choose to sport. Food plays a big part in that experience and at most festivals there are more options than one belly can handle.

Need help figuring out what you’re going to feast on during this summer’s premier festivals? Look no further than what these eight fests have to offer:

Sept. 11 to 13 in Chicago

Nearly every festival claims to offer fried food—but none compete with the deep-fried, greasy selection at Chicago’s Riot Fest. Previous years’ vendors have offered everything from colossal fried cheese sticks to fried sweet corn balls. No other place on earth melds punk rock and state fair-quality food quite like Riot Fest, and while some people will say seeing the Academy Is… playing Almost Here in its entirety is what’s making their heart stop, it’s really just the grub.


June 24 to 28 and June 30-July 5 in Milwaukee

​The self-described “world’s largest music festival” has not only slated performances from acts like Linkin Park, A Day To Remember, Motion City Soundtrack, Ed Sheeran and others this summer—it’s also going to deliver one of the most peculiar foods to be served at a festival: spaghetti. Yes, according to the festival’s website, attendees can order spaghetti—hopefully in a bowl with a lid and not on a plate. Can you imagine getting hit by a crowd surfer and sloshing spaghetti all over the surly festival-goer in front of you? Talk about a whole new way to disrespect your surroundings.


Aug. 7 to 9 in San Francisco

This northern California festival is bringing out the best of the Bay Area by teaming up with local restaurants to provide attendees with top-notch food options. Over 60 restaurants are slated to make an appearance: Be bold and try Namu Street Food’s mushroom udon, or test your cholesterol by diving into a grilled cheese from The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.


Oct. 2 to 4 and 9 to 11 in Austin, Texas

Although not located on the festival grounds, it wouldn’t be a trip to a festival in Austin without stopping by Hoeks Death Metal Pizza. Yes, there is a pizza-by-the-slice joint in downtown Austin dedicated to blasting death metal music and dishing out delicious pie. Not looking to leave the festival grounds—or risk missing performances from Foo Fighters or twenty one pilots? According to the Austin City Limits website, a local farmers’ market will be on site, as well as a food court and local chef showcase, dishing out local gourmet noms.


June 18 to 21, Dover, Delaware

Firefly holds nothing back when it comes to offering an all-out festival experience. Beyond porting a lineup featuring the Killers, Modest Mouse, Manchester Orchestra and others, there’s an arcade bar packed with nostalgic games, a market for exclusive shopping, and obviously food. The festival promises options ranging from healthy to unhealthy to “downright bizarre.” Try one in each category and wash it down with the festival’s exclusive beer brewed by Dogfish Head, Firefly Ale.


July 31 to Aug. 2 in Chicago

Conveniently located in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park, Lolla attendees can venture a few blocks into Chicago’s famous Loop and try deep-dish pizza from Gino’s East or a sandwich from Fontano’s Subs. Those looking to stay at the festival won’t be left hungry: Chicago’s finest, including Chicago-style hot dogs, will be served in the festival’s food court, named “Chow Town.”


Oct. 10 in Chester, Pennsylvania

This one-day metal festival guarantees “gourmet man food” for attendees. Now, what is “gourmet man food”? The festival’s website says it’s things like the monstrous pork, BBQ and bacon-infused “Western” sandwich served by Sum Pig. Other vendors include the mouth-watering Tot Cart, which offers up an all tater-tot menu, including the cheesy, spicy, and downright experimental. These, and other vendors, look to offer up huge meals alongside the biggest names in metal.

Louder Than Life
Oct. 3 to 4 in Louisville, KY

What is “Gourmet Man Food”? Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not sitting in a lazy boy in your t-shirt eating Doritos and Velveeta cheese while watching football. Nor is it small portions on sparse plates. Louder Than Life's premier selection of bourbon, whiskey, craft beer and Gourmet Man Food is curated personally by festival creator Danny Wimmer. The festival’s spectacular music lineup of rock legends and breaking talent includes Rob Zombie, ZZ Top, Godsmack, Shinedown, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, Breaking Benjamin, 3 Doors Down, Bring Me The Horizon, and many more.


June 17 to August 8, a parking lot near you

Let’s face it: Warped Tour is such a frenzy of fantastic music that by the end of the day, you’ll eat nearly anything. Food comes totally secondary to everything else the festival offers, and that’s okay. Just to be safe, though, follow this survival tip: Find the closest gas station before the show, fill up on Gatorade and light snacks—like crackers or fruit—and spend the day supporting the alterative scene. alt