Montana is well known for its vivid Old West culture and the ability to throw a great party. And while the (in)famous Testicle Festival is no more, there’s still a lot going on in Big Sky Country. Whether you’re into music, visual arts, or Wild Western living, there’s a festival for you. Here are a few of the biggest Montana events you’ll want to snag tickets for.
Bozeman’s annual Sweet Pea Festival embraces the entire arts and culture scene in the community and beyond. This three-day festival features activities for kids and adults, a beer and wine garden with local craft brews, arts and craft vendors, theater performances, and music of all genres. This is a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere that makes fun for any age during the first weekend in August. And it’s been going strong for 46 years.
The Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs celebrates rural Montana from this community of 900 people not far from Bozeman. The Red Ants Pants Foundation, the nonprofit behind the festival, brings forward a mission dedicated to women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities. You’ll find a mix of blues, folk, rock, country, and others, as well as a kids' tent and vendors throughout the late-July weekend.
Whitefish, Montana, is home to Under the Big Sky Fest, a yearly hotspot for big names like Hank Williams, Caamp, and Zach Bryan. Hosted at Big Mountain Ranch, this festival makes Whitefish the ideal home base, with free shuttles to the venue. This unique spot holds an outdoor stage and barn spaces, with food and art vendors too. The mountain backdrop only adds to performances.
Outside of Three Forks, Montana, sandwiched between Bozeman and Butte, Headwaters Country Jam brings in the country artists you didn’t expect to hear outside of Nashville. Plunked in the middle of a field, an old metal bridge is the backdrop for the main stage. This is a classic festival experience, with few bells and whistles but plenty of good sound. Mark your calendar for the last weekend in July, and be sure to pack your cowboy boots.
Held at the same venue at the bridge as Country Jam, this rocking festival in the middle of nowhere (well, with easy access from both Bozeman and Butte) draws big names. You’ll notice that folk and country is a theme with Montana music festivals, but Rockin’ the Rivers breaks the mold with a guaranteed headbanging, rockin’ good time in August.
Most Montana communities host a rodeo each year. You’ll find them in Bozeman, Bigfork, Big Sky, and beyond. From Butte, you’ll want to check out the nearby Dillon or Three Forks rodeos. With roping, broncos, bulls, and barrel races, these are always a wild time and a cultural experience to boot.
Montana Folk Festival in Butte, America, is a completely free outdoor music festival devoted to all things folk. Beyond the music (and drool-worthy food), you’ll find up to 50 artisans and craftspeople offering their work for sale at one of the two marketplaces: the First Peoples’ Market and the Montana Traditions Arts Market.
With such remote venues, finding a spot to stay for some of these festivals should be top of mind. Plan ahead, and book a stay at a Starry Night property. With campgrounds, vacation rentals, and hotels to choose from, you can enjoy the dust and grit of the experience without sacrificing amenities.