Western Montanans spend as much as possible outside in the summer, and concerts are no different. This summer, the area boasts festivals for fans of indie rock, classical, blues, Americana, funk and more.
In addition to festivals, Missoula will have the busiest concert season in recent memory, with the opening of the new KettleHouse Amphitheater and the improvements out at Big Sky Brewing’s long-standing series – and don’t forget Paul Simon’s show at the Osprey Stadium in June, likely his first performance in Montana before.
Here’s a rundown of all the festivals happening in the Corridor range of western Montana. All dates and lineups are subject to change. Check their websites for more information.
The 4,000-capacity amphitheater is a partnership between the brewery and Logjam Presents, the owner of the Wilma Theatre and the Top Hat Lounge. The permanent stage is nestled on the Blackfoot River on the former Stimson mill site, giving audiences a view of the mountains and water. The tiered amphitheater features standing room in the pit, tiers with fixed seating, plus a large grassy area surrounding it. Food vendors and beer, wine and liquor will be available for purchase. The site has parking, but attendees are encouraged to take shuttles from the Top Hat downtown to help lighten the traffic.
The dates announced so far are: Lyle Lovett and his Large Band (July 13), a sold-out Ween show (July 16), Tedeschi Trucks Band with Hot Tuna and the Wood Brothers (Aug. 2), Primus and Clutch (Aug. 11), Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with Melissa Etheridge (Aug. 12), Slayer with Lamb of God and Behemoth (Aug. 17). For more info, go to kettlehouseamphitheater.com.
Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater
The long-running concert series out at Big Sky Brewing will mark the opening of its own amphitheater this summer as well. The new stage will accommodate bigger light and sound, and an engineered slope will improve sight-lines around the area. The grounds will open on June 3 with a Trey Anastasio concert, followed by Rebelution and Nahko and Medicine for the People (June 23), Sublime with Rome (July 4), Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals (July 18), UB40’s Ali, Astro and Mickey with Matisyahu (July 19) and Michael Franti and Spearhead (Sept. 11). For information about Travelers’ Rest festival, see the separate listing below. Go to bigskybrew.com.
Is it a festival? No, but Paul Simon likely hasn’t ever played in Montana before in his decades-long career clustered with classics from “The Sound of Silence” to “Graceland.”
Date: June 21.
Location: Ogren Park Allegiance Field.
Tickets: $55 plus fees at ticketmaster.com, 406-543-3300 or the MSO Hub downtown.
Silver Cloud Campout
The scenic property near the 10,000 Silver Dollar Bar will be converted to a two-day, family friendly music festival. The line-up skews toward funk and Americana, with headliners like the Infamous Stringdusters Dumpstaphunk, Shook Twins, Hawthorne Roots plus a generous assortment of locals like Shakewell, Locksaw Cartel and Rotgut Whines.
Dates: June 9-10.
Location: 10,000 Silver Dollar Bar, Haugan.
Tickets: $40, all-ages, silvercloudcampout.com.
St. Timothy’s Summer Music Festival
This chapel, set above Georgetown Lake, makes a unique place to hear summertime concerts. This year, the five-concert season has a diverse lineup with everything from the Ringling 5, a group of eastern Montana ranchers, to the Montana Chamber Music Society.
Dates: June 25-Aug. 20.
Location: St. Timothy’s Memorial Chapel, Georgetown Lake.
Tickets: Single concerts are $20 for adults, $15 for 18 and under, sttimothysmusic.org.
Camping: None affiliated with the festival, but camping is in the area.
Montana Folk Festival
At this annual free gathering, one of the most popular in western Montana, “folk music” means traditional music from around the world, emanating from six stages in Uptown Butte. The acts include Western Swing, Tuvan throat singing, Irish music and Sri Lankan dance.
Dates: July 7-9.
Camping: Available at sites in surrounding area.
The Bob Marshall Music Festival
In keeping with its namesake and location in one of Montana’s prettiest lake towns, Seeley Lake, the second annual Bob Marshall Music Festival is the perfect fest for the outdoorsy type. You can catch headliners like Dead Man Winter, the new project by Trampled by Turtles’ Dave Simonett, and Deer Tick, Jeffrey Foucault and more, and also take part in mountain bike races, foot races (50K, 10K and 5K) plus family events.
Dates: July 13-15.
Location: Seeley Lake Elementary School grounds.
Tickets: $50 for a full pass, $40 for a day pass, thebobmusic.com.
Camping: Adjacent to festival grounds for a fee.
Adventure Crew Music Festival
A group of seasonal workers are planning a new event on Lost Trail Mountain ski area, with a “summer camp” feel allowing for mountain biking, swimming and dancing along with live DJs, a beer garden and more. The lineup is largely locals: Shakewell, Dodgy Mountain Men, Rotgut Whines, the Josh Farmer Band, the Skurfs, Kris Moon and more.
Dates: July 7-8.
Location: Lost Trail Mountain.
Tickets: $20-$40, all ages.
The fourth annual DIY music festival caters to open-eared fans of underground indie music who want to hear new bands in an all-inclusive environment, not too different from a laid-back summer camp.
Dates: July 13-15.
Location: Multiple sites around Missoula.
Tickets: Single-show and all-weekend passes available, campdaze.com.
Camping: None on site, but plenty in the surrounding area.
The 10th annual classical festival brings skilled guest soloists and ensembles to play both full orchestral works and small chamber concerts for a full week of classical-era composers at the doorstep of Glacier National Park.
Dates: Aug. 7-13.
Location: Whitefish, Bigfork.
Tickets: Variable, gscmusic.org.
Camping: Lodging and camping available in area.
Celtic Festival Missoula
This celebration of all things Celtic was in danger of skipping a year until sponsors stepped in to help keep it open and admission-free. The line-up includes Young Dubliners (L.A. Celtic rock), the Stout Pounders (Seattle Irish folk), RUNA (Irish-Scottish folk-jazz), Gothard Sisters (Washington state Irish folk/dance), plus local standards like the Celtic Dragon Pipe Band, the Missoula Irish Dancers and Irish road bowling.
Date: July 29.
Location: Caras Park, Missoula.
Montana Baroque Festival
The sounds of music that still shine after centuries will fill the air along the Clark Fork River in Paradise for this unique festival. Expert musicians from around the country descend each year to perform Baroque chamber music on traditional instruments, such as gut-string violins. The hot springs resort recently built a brand-new pavilion that will make an even better festival experience.
Dates: July 18-20.
Location: Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, Paradise.
Tickets: $25 per night.
Camping: No on-site camping, but lodging is available at the resort.
Hard Times Bluegrass Festival
This ninth annual gathering pairs traditional bluegrass in a rustic setting to match on a private ranch near Hamilton, with an accompanying family-friendly atmosphere.
Dates: July 21-23.
Location: A private ranch 10 miles south of Hamilton.
Tickets: $15 for adults for the weekend.
Camping: Available for a small fee.
The Pirate Party
This three-day pirate-themed rave is coming to the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar this year, with four stages, hundreds of DJs, bands, performers and visuals, plus a pool party and 44-foot dome.
Dates: July 21-24.
Location: 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, Haugan.
Tickets: $135 for weekend, parking is extra.
Camping: Available for a fee.
Red Ants Pants
Over the past seven years, the Red Ants Pants Festival has cultivated a down-home atmosphere all to itself. With multiple stages arranged in a cow pasture, lots of space for camping, and a family friendly atmosphere with local food trucks and ag-related educational activities. This year’s headliners are the Bellamy Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Asleep at the Wheel and Shooter Jennings, Lydia Loveless and more.
Dates: July 27-30.
Location: White Sulphur Springs.
Tickets: Single passes $55, weekend passes $135. More options at redantspantsfestival.com.
Camping: For a fee, advance tickets available.
Big Sky Rhythm and Blues Music Festival
The eighth annual festival, held on the Clark Fork River in Noxon, draws blues artists from around the country in myriad styles, with promises of plenty of jam sessions, plus a Friday-night pig roast. Music workshops for youths also are available.
Dates: Aug. 4-6.
Tickets: All weekend pass, $57 in advance.
Camping: Available on site for a fee.
An Ri Ra Irish Festival
The annual Irish festival returns for 15th year, featuring Celtic music and dancing for three days, plus an Irish outdoor Mass on Sunday.
Dates: Aug. 11-13.
Location: Original Mineyard, Butte.
Camping: Area camping available.
Aber Day Reunion concert
The reunion of the epic 1970s Missoula keggers has moved to Polson this year, since the previous host city, Philipsburg, is marking its 150th anniversary. Thankfully, headliners Mission Mountain Wood Band plus Sam Riddle and his band, are no strangers to the Flathead. Rounding out the bill are Andrea Harsell and Luna Roja. The music is held in conjunction with Polson’s annual Summerfest car and art show.
Date: Aug. 12.
Location: Regatta Shoreline Amphitheater, Polson Fairgrounds.
Camping: Dry camping available at the fairgrounds.
The Decemberists will headline both nights of their new, curated festival, Travelers’ Rest. The Portland indie-folk act, led by Montana native Colin Meloy, lined up Scottish indie vets Belle & Sebastian, soul singer Charles Bradley, clean-toned guitar group Real Estate, plus the Head and the Heart, Slyvian Essen and more.
Dates: Aug. 12-13.
Location: Big Sky Brewing Co. Amphitheater.
Tickets: Single-day passes, bigskybrew.com/brewery/summer-concert-series.
Camping: Hotels are nearby, plus camping in the area if you want it.
Libby Riverfront Blues Festival
Held at a log pavilion on the riverbank, the Libby Riverfront Blues Festival offers three days of music with a following among musicians and attendees. This year, the Friday headliner the Zach Harmon Band will perform along with four others plus an all-star jam; and Saturday features Hector Anchondo and Omar Coleman.
Dates: Aug. 11-12.
Location: Riverfront Park, Libby.
Tickets: Online ticket sales at riverfrontbluesfestival.com.
Camping: Available at a nearby park for tents, fifth-wheels and campers, but no fires allowed. Walking distance to the park with shuttles running during the music.
Flathead Lake Blues Festival
The seventh annual Flathead Lake Blues Festival has two days of blues on the water: A Friday-night opener with a rotation of 12 western Montana bands with horn sections and back-up singers, followed by Saturday’s “Ladies of the Blues” concert, featuring Andrea Harsell and Luna Roja, the Michelle Taylor Band, and Estelle and Atomic Jive.
Dates: Aug. 18-19.
Tickets: Two-day passes for $40, one-day at $25, flatheadlakebluesfestival.com,
Camping: Available in the area.
River City Roots Festival
Several blocks of downtown Missoula close each August for the River City Roots Festival, one of the Garden City's most popular events. This year's headliners are John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, led by the veteran Grammy-winning picker, and New Orleans bluesman Anders Osborne. The rest of the lineup, available at rivercityrootsfestival.com, is all-new to the festival. There's also a family fun festival, art show and 4-mile run and plenty of food and beer.
Dates: Aug. 25-26.
Location: Downtown Missoula.
Tickets: Free admission.
Camping: Hotels are nearby, plus camping in the area if you want it.
Crown Guitar Workshop and Festival
The Crown is a boon to both fans of guitar music and aspiring and professional musicians. The annual event brings in top-tier six-stringers for both public performances and educational workshops. This year’s guest artists are the Grammy-winning Dobro legend Jerry Douglas; Nashville country session guitarist Brent Mason, acclaimed classical virtuoso Jason Vieaux, bluesman Sonny Landreth, plus up-and-coming guitarist Emily Elbert, who’s toured with Esperanza Spaulding.
Dates: Aug. 27-Sept. 2.
Tickets: Vary on number of days, crownguitarfest.org.
Camping: Onsite lodging and off-site camping and lodging available.
Hot Springs Blues Festival
The eighth annual blues festival at the Symes Hot Springs Hotel brings two days of regional and local blues acts, with the bonus of on-site mineral baths and accommodations. Friday night opens with Slow Cooking and the John Kelley Blues Band. On Saturday, the music runs from the early afternoon with Zeppo MT, Mike Bader Blues Band, Mudslide Charley and the CD Woodbury Band out of Seattle.
Dates: July 28-29.
Location: Symes Hot Springs Hotel, Hot Springs.
Tickets: $40 in advance, $25 a day at the gate, symeshotspringsbluesfestival.com.
Accommodations: Packages available for hotel rooms, cabins and camping.
Rockin the Rivers
The heaviest summer fest in the state brings three days of hard rock and metal, ranging in styles from Night Ranger Blue Oyster Cult and L.A. Guns to Lit, Black Stone Cherry and more.
Dates: Aug. 11-13.
Location: Three Forks.
Tickets: $75 for one day, $165 for three days, rockintherivers.com.