It’s hard to think about spring and summer concert festivals as we head into the long, cold winter, but now’s the perfect time to give the gift of (live) music to the music fans on your Christmas list. Here are a few of the already-announced festivals in the central Ohio area with some recommendations as to who you might want to buy tickets for. Not included in this list: Bunbury Music Festival (Cincinnati) and Nelsonville Music Festival (Nelsonville) as lineups are not yet available (though tickets are).


Melted Music Festival, February 24, The Bluestone (Columbus)

Who You Should Buy For:  Your vinyl-loving, ‘zine reading, music-obsessed niece or nephew that doesn’t listen to the radio and spends lots of time flipping through the bins at Used Kids.

Bands of Note: Ty Segall & White Fence (one of the most prolific artists of this generation; noisy, psych-garage-rock), Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese band influenced by hippie/improvisational jam bands from late ’60s Haight-Ashbury scene), Heron Oblivion (drowsy, acid-tripping dream rock from members of Espers and Howlin Rain)

Location: The Bluestone (583 E Broad St, Columbus)

Ticket Price: $50 general admission or $70 general admission + limited-edition t-shirt

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Steadfast Music Festival, March 9, Strongwater (Columbus)

Who You Should Buy For:  The Steadfast Music Festival is organized and run by the founder of local music blog I Am Tuned Up, Ryan Getz, and features a number of great Columbus-based bands in addition to nationally-touring headliners. This is an ideal festival for a discerning young adult who is excited about what’s going on around Columbus, listens to Radio U / CD 102.5 / XMU and/or Alt Nation (Sirius/XM), and wants to be able to say, “I saw these bands before they blew up.”

Bands of Note:  Mike Mains & The Branches (indie-pop along the lines of Arcade Fire, Young the Giant), Shaed (DC electro-pop whose song “Trampoline” was featured in Apple’s MacBook Air commercial), Label Me Lecter (alt-rock hip-hop that should appeal to twenty-one pilot fans), Whale Bones (ranging from quiet, acoustic-based ballads to early ’00s inspired emo rock)

Location: Strongwater Food & Spirits (event space), 401 W Town St, Columbus, Ohio

Ticket Price: $15 + fees (available online here)

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Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival, May 17 – 19, Mapfre Stadium (Columbus)

Who You Should Buy For:  Essentially, this is Rock on the Range rebranded. Before the lineup was announced, rock fans were worried that this was going to turn into a pop & hip-hop fest. Those worries were set aside once the full lineup was revealed. Heavy on loud-guitar bands, this festival is a no-brainer for the RAWK fan on your Christmas list, especially if 99.7 The Blitz occupies the number 1 pre-set on the car radio. Set in a stadium with side stages spread out around the grounds, there’s plenty to choose from.

Bands of Note:  Foo Fighters (arguably the biggest rock band in the world), System of a Down (much anticipated reunion from one of hard rock’s most influential bands from the mid ’90s to the mid ’00s), The Struts (UK glam rock in the spirit of Queen), The Glorious Sons (Canadian band that has toured with Greta Van Fleet, The Struts), Teenage Wrist (alt-rock up-and-comers with a shoegazing sheen), Black Coffee (Columbus band invoking a classic rock sound)

Location: Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Ticket Price: 3-day passes range from $175 (stadium GA) to $429.50 (field VIP); single-day tickets aren’t currently available (nor is the day-by-day lineup)

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Camp Anarchy, May 31 – June 2, Legend Valley (Thornville)

Who You Should Buy For: Your 35 – 55-year-old spouse or significant other who discovered punk rock when Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ came out in 1994 and then went down the rabbit hole and bought CDs by other punk bands and attended the first few Warped tours.

Bands of Note:  Bad Religion (legendary “smart” punk rockers), Rancid (tattooed ska-punk), Suicidal Tendencies (punk/metal crossover), Off! (supergroup comprised of members of Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Burning Brides, Redd Kross), NOFX (influential – and controversial – band that influenced 75% of this lineup), The Bronx (Rock on the Range alumni, could just as easily have been on Sonic Temple lineup)

Location: Legend Valley, Thornville, Ohio (approx. 40 miles east of downtown Columbus)

Ticket Price: Single-day starting at $39.50, 3-day starting at $119.50. VIP packages also available.

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Smokey Run Music Festival, June 28 – 30, Clear Fork Adventure Resort (Butler)

Who You Should Buy For: The Grateful Dead/jam band/Americana fan in your life (likely somebody in the age range of 30 – 60). Of all the festivals listed, this will be the most chill; in fact, you might want to make this a two-in-one package with a ticket to the festival and either a lawn chair or tent.

Bands of Note:  Gov’t Mule (Southern rock jam band likely to play some classic rock covers), Deer Tick (though a folkie/Americana-style band, singer John McCauley was asked by the surviving members of Nirvana to sing lead vocals for the band for three songs at Cal Jam 2018), Son Volt (forefathers of the alt-country genre), Ekoostik Hookah (long-standing Columbus-based jam band), Sarah Shook & The Disarmers (played two SMOKERS at Ace of Cups in 2018; fast-tracking to spots much higher on festival bills in the near future)

Location: Clear Fork Adventure Resort, Butler, Ohio (approx. 60 miles north of downtown Columbus)

Ticket Price: Early-bird 3-day passes currently available ranging from $99 (general admission) to $800 (VIP – camping/tickets/more). Single-day tickets available starting January 14.

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