Today we’re happy reintroduce our guide to the 50 Best Festivals in America in the form of a handy, downloadable eBook (PDF) that’s been revamped with even more photography, insight and trivia than before. It’s a ready-to-go handbook for your iOS, Android or Kindle device — never out of reach the next time the road comes calling. Oh, and it’s free. Download it here.
Keeping the good times always close at hand
Conversations over a straight razor
We talk to Big T, a.k.a. Tobias Olsen, owner of the beloved Royal Barbershop in Stockholm, about life’s second acts, what it takes to be an excellent barber, and how to care for your skin — and yourself.
You were looking for something to do?
Americans, we’re a people who enjoy a good gathering. It’s right there in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution: the right of the people to peaceably assemble, adopted on December 15, 1791 — and darn it we’ve been doing it something serious since then. We caucus to select political representation, we gather around grills on July 4, we congregate in town squares to see who grew the biggest pumpkin. Most of all, we just like to get together and have a rollicking good time.
That’s what this story is all about. It’s a survey of America’s greatest festivals, from a small-town California celebration of the local garlic crop to a skull-rattling military air show to the greatest collection of musical performers at one venue, on Earth. We’ve taken certain liberties in defining a festival, so you’ll also find a few conferences that have made an important impact in popular culture. Mark your calendars. Fill up your gas tanks. Pack some beef jerky. These are the 50 best festivals in America.
From hash to hashtags
SXSW is a culture unto itself today, defined as much by its concentration of Google glass, hashtags and corporate bar tabs as it is by concerts, movie premiers and software launches. Spend enough time here and you might start believing the internet is a real live place. Looking at it all through the lens of the present, it’s hard to believe the festival was started 27 years ago by a few staffers at the Austin Chronicle who wanted to attract bands and artists from around the world to the eclectic music scene of Austin in hopes of exposing the city as a hotbed of talent. Here’s how to make your visit a great one.
Part Craftsman, Part Caveman
Jimmy Carbonetti, Caveman band member and the proprietor of Carbonetti Guitars located on New York’s Lower East Side, still has plenty of life to live before he churns out the next self-help best seller. But if a Carbonetti’s Rules for Success ever does surface, the lessons should seem familiar: do what you love and find mentors. Getting both lined up didn’t take long in his case. We caught up with the musician and luthier ahead of his next appearance in Austin to chat about everything from the origins of his “Cobra” nickname to his musical heroes and a few of his latest projects.
What to See, Read, and (especially) Hear
This Week at South by Southwest: Girls invade the boys club, Neil Young debuts a music service, Lady Gaga remains weird and much more.
Seeking the Reel Deal
This year was the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival, when Park City, UT, becomes the center of the celluloid universe and nearly 50,000 people descend on a mountain town of 7,500 inhabitants. Sundance is widely considered the most important film festival in the U.S., the incubator for films that resonate deeply in American popular culture. What’s more, the festival makes for a raucous week in the Wasatch Range. We were on hand this year to see how it all works. Here’s our guide on where to stay, what to eat and, most importantly, how to go about your festival week.
Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival
Trevor Groth first visited the Sundance Film Festival in 1989 at the age of 17. The experience changed his life, eventually leading him to a job as Director of Programming at Sundance, presiding over the strategic planning and selection process of the now-iconic film festival. Translation? He’s paid to watch and discuss movies produced by the planet’s most talented filmmakers and then picks which movies the world should definitely see. We caught up him in the middle of the 2013 festival to pick his brain about his process, how to experience the festival right and the state of the indie film scene at large.
Celebrity chef, restaurateur, knife enthusiast
Hugh Acheson is a familiar face by now, with plenty of magazine appearances after his Food & Wine Best New Chef award and a recurring role as a judge on Top Chef. But it’s the Ottawa-born chef’s enthusiasm for Southern cuisine that has buoyed his reputation. He lives in the South with his wife and kids. His three restaurants in Georgia, along with his cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, have earned him James Beard Foundation awards as a chef and as an author. We caught up with him to talk about scrambled eggs, opening restaurants, the things that piss him off, and what piques him about the land below of the Mason-Dixon line.
What to See, Read and Hear
Bring the Heat And you thought the Polar Vortex was just something CNN made up to scare you into reading the news. Nope, as it turns out, the cold is real, and very dangerous. In other strange weather news, a low pressure system in Europe caused something known as “The Black Swell“. Revenge for Revenge…