women at festival

Top 5 music festivals for women

All music festivals are not created equal as seen within the realm of gender at these events. From attendees to performers, women are severely underrepresented. Check out this list of the top 5 music festivals for women and learn about who is working to balance the scales.

Based on statistical evidence, women dominate the music scene. They outnumber men as musical artists and they are consistent chart-toppers, but this data doesn’t seem to translate to the main stage. Women are significantly underrepresented at music festivals, especially in the EDM genre. Where are all the women performers?

In 2018, 70% of performers at many of the major festivals were men. While that number is beginning to drop, the pace is incredibly slow and seemingly performative. Within the last few years, we’ve seen a 4% increase in females within major lineups, but the fact that we can’t hit a 50/50 split in 2021 seems outrageous.

While most festivals are following their tried and true lineups, many are working hard to create equality within the performer list and on festival grounds. Here are some up-and-coming festivals, along with a few old-school mainstays, that are here to support women artists and attendees.

Girls Just Wanna Weekend

In 2019, country singer Brandi Carlile debuted her all-female lineup at the first Girls Just Wanna Weekend Festival. In 2022, it’s about to turn three. The music festival features a four-night, all-inclusive experience at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya in Mexico with performances by artists such as Sheryl Crow, Margo Price, Indigo Girls, and of course, Carlile herself.

The festival includes a ton of activities to bring the artists and attendees together. You’ll find morning yoga, various workshops, contests, and pool parties every day! However, the mainstay for this event is the Ladies of the 80s night where everyone is encouraged to play the part and dress up. In your off time, enjoy the beautiful beaches, the incredible food, and ancient Mayan ruins scattered throughout the area.

Carlile’s team also works with Positive Legacy, an organization that aims to offset each trip. They set up a volunteer day for guests to give back to the local community, a charity auction, a donation drive, and a carbon offset program through the Trees, Water & People foundation. After three years, the festival is now encompassing two hotels instead of one. Jump on the Brandi bandwagon before it sells out!

The Dinah: Club Skirts

The Dinah: Club Skirts
Image by Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend via Facebook

The Dinah Shore Music Festival has been around since 1991 when founder Mariah Hanson wanted to create a safe space for women to let loose and have fun. What started as a posh party in a museum is now considered the largest lesbian/queer women event in the world!

This four-night experience takes place every year in Palm Springs, California. It features artists such as The Pussycat Dolls, India.Arie, Pat Benatar, Colbie Caillat, Lady Gaga, and so many more. With your ticket, you’ll also see comedy shows, attend The L Word Pool Party, and enjoy the Black and White Ball to name a few. There is always something to do at The Dinah!

Mariah also ensures she gives back to the community by donating to a different organization each year. In the past, she’s chosen groups such as GLAAD, The San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Community Center, and various lesbian film projects. This party has been around for years and knows how to have fun in a safe space. Plan your next trip and let the good times roll!

Statement Music Festival

Statement Festival, Sweden
Image by Statement Festival via Facebook

Statement Music Festival started in 2018 as a response to abuse against women at various music festivals around the world. The founder, comedian Emma Knyckare, saw the violence taking place in and out of the music scene and felt compelled to take action. She wanted to give women, nonbinary identifying people, and transgender folks a place to hang out, listen to great music that reflects their demographic and feel safe.

The festival takes place every year in Sweden and is run entirely by women, nonbinary people, and trans folks. From security guards to the performers, everyone reflects this demographic, making this a one-of-a-kind experience.

What may seem surprising is the festival’s long-term goal. In the coming years, Knyckare hopes she can shut down the festival for good. Why? Because she hopes festivals like this won’t be necessary in the future. While this may seem weird, the point of the festival is to give this group a safe place to enjoy music while bringing awareness to the issues surrounding violence against women, nonbinary folk, and the trans community. Until the world makes significant changes, she will continue to fight for peace and safety.

Essence Festival of Culture

The Essence Music Festival was supposed to be a one-time event in New Orleans, Louisiana, to celebrate Essence magazine’s 25th anniversary. However, it soon became the largest African-American music event in the U.S. with a primary focus on women. In the past, the event has featured incredible artists, such as Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Mariah Carey to name a few and also features motivational speakers through their Empowerment Experience.

Festival-goers can enjoy the music, along with the Essence Expo Experience featuring seminars and workshops promoting beauty, finance, power, and so much more. You’ll also find various vendors, crafts, and art activities throughout the day that reflect the diverse nature of the African diaspora.

Attendees can purchase single-day passes or stay for the full three days. Hotels in the area offer discounted rates and packages to help you live your best life in New Orleans. Its location also provides the best spot to tour the city. From main-stage performances to intimate gatherings of like-minded women, this festival is a must-experience, for sure.

Electric Forest

What started as the Rothbury Music Festival has turned into a dazzling interactive music experience with DJs and musicians traveling from around the world to come to play at this art-filled event. At one stage, you can listen to The String Cheese Incident or My Morning Jacket. At another, you can hear Rezz or Alison Wonderland dj into the night.

While Electric Forest, aka EF, isn’t a festival specifically dedicated to women, they are one of the first EDM festivals to create an inclusive space over the last decade. The festival is the first of its kind to feature a female-only camping section within the GA campgrounds, along with a program called Her Forest. The initiative was created to help women come together, connect, and feel comfortable within the festival grounds by empowering them through various workshops, classes, and panels. You can find Her Forest activities scattered throughout the day/night all across the festival.

EF features four nights of music and activities with camping options, day passes, and hotel shuttles. You can even take a hot air balloon ride over the 66-acre ranch or spend the afternoon at the waterpark located close by. With hidden poetry brothels, a secret speakeasy, and treasures located throughout the forest, this magical experience will change your life and your perspective.

Other music festivals vying for equality

There are many other music festivals and festival brands out there that are starting to realize their lineups aren’t what they should be. While the list above is female-centered, there are other music festivals across the globe with bookers and leads actively seeking to promote a 50/50 male-to-female performer ratio. There are even some brands who are promoting shows with women-only headliners. Here are a few music festivals that are succeeding.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort, but it’s clear there is a growing awareness surrounding women within the festival scene. Before you select a festival, take time to research the founders, the festival itself, and what other attendees have to say about their experiences in forums and community pages, especially if you are choosing to attend alone. Women deserve safe spaces to express themselves and listen to good music. Let’s keep fighting for that opportunity.

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