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WNY music festivals and how to survive them

By the time warmer weather finally arrives here, most people are ready to spend as much time soaking in the summertime vibes as possible. Live music is the perfect accompaniment to enjoying the season, and for music lovers looking for more than just an evening concert, there is the all-day music festival.

So much more than hearing a band play some of your favorite tunes, these outdoor events are opportunities to hear several groups with the same sound throughout the day, and there are options within an hour drive of Buffalo or Rochester that showcase several acts in succession on the same stage for an experience that will rock your world.

June 9: East Aurora Music Festival

A truly western New York experience, this music festival spans the entire village of East Aurora with performances at 20 venues. Over 60 local bands take the stages playing classic rock, jazz, bluegrass and country — so you can tailored the day to your tastes. This year’s lineup includes The Strictly Hip, Workingman’s Dead, Alison Pipitone and Disco Duck. Shuttles are provided free of charge at several points throughout the village, and $15 gets you unlimited music (veterans free).

June 16: Kerfuffle

Located right at Canalside in downtown Buffalo, this one-day music festival kicks off at 1 p.m. — and features national acts including AWOLNATION, Matt and Kim, Manchester Orchestra and Mansionair. General admission is $35, but $200 will get you the VIP experience that includes access to a tented area in front of the stage, a festival T-shirt, complimentary food and non-alcoholic beverages and access to air-conditioned bathrooms.

July 5-7: Jam in the Valley

Nestled in the small town of Varysburg, this family-style country music festival is a 4th of July weekend tradition. This year, the three-day lineup of country music performers includes Billy Currington, Cole Swindell, Brett Young and LOCASH — and a fireworks show concludes the festival on Saturday night. Tickets range from $30 single-day general admission all the way up to nearly $400 for the premier VIP status for all three days.

July 14: Buffalo Niagara Blues Festival

If blues are more of your thing, then mark July 14 on the calendar to head to Silo City. With the historic grain elevators as a backdrop, the Buffalo Niagara Blues Festival takes place from noon until 11 p.m., featuring the David Bromberg Quintet, John Nemeth, Josh Paxton, Keesha Pratt Band and more. There are chairs to rent if you don’t bring your own, but no outside beverages or coolers are allowed in the venue. Food vendors will be available as well as a beer tent. This concert serves as a fundraiser for the Blues Society of Western New York, and tickets range from
$25-$35.

July 28: Cobblestone Live Music and Arts Festival

Buffalo’s historic Cobblestone District has become a staple for live music and entertainment among a number of venues. Launched in 2017, the two-day festival will bring even more music to the district with five stages showcasing over 30 musical acts this year, including Broken Social Scene, The Sheepdogs and Turkuaz. Single-day passes start at $25 with VIP packages for $100, and a portion of the proceeds benefit Child Advocacy Center.

Come Prepared

Planning to take in an entire day of outdoor tunes? If the venue allows, fill a backpack (or tote if it doesn’t) with common sense items like an extra layer of clothing, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and lip balm.

A cold beer might be a beverage of choice, but don’t make the rookie mistake of getting sun exhaustion and dehydration. Pack as much water as you can carry; most festivals will let you bring your own. Shade can be hard to come by at some of these venues, so know what you’re in for and bring your own (aka hats and sunscreen). Music festivals that last for several days and offer camping often have enough space for a pop-up tent, which provides welcome shade and protection in almost any conditions.

Also stash a few plastic ziplock bags to protect electronics in case it rains. And bring a printed copy of the event schedule to help you keep your bearings…and just in case your phone battery drains too early.

Footwear at a music festival generally consists of flip-flops or sneakers — opt for closed-toe if you want to avoid painful missteps by fellow concertgoers.

Several of the local events are considered family-friendly, so don’t shy away from bringing the kids. Wagons provide relief to little legs that get tired of dancing, and they can double as a bed for a mid-afternoon snooze. Earbuds are a must when bringing children, and they come in sizes for all ages. Glow sticks are also easy to travel with, and will help you see your child at night.

Our favorite go-to? A nylon parachute. It’s easy to pack and it can be a blanket on the ground, a tent, a toy or a layer to keep warm.

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