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Five U.S. music festivals to not miss in 2014

It’s a New Year, and music lovers can rejoice in anticipation of a slew of upcoming festivals around the country in the coming months. In an era pervaded by digitized instant gratification and artificial “social media” interactions, the music festival remains a forum for genuine human connection (sigh), where people can still get high on the potency of live performances, consociate with newfound friends, and escape the tyranny of a world that’s becoming more and more defined by online communication rather than old-school, organic synergy. We know many of you, good readers, take these annual pilgrimages quite seriously, so we’ve highlighted our favorites below with some pertinent info:

South by Southwest – March 11-16, Austin, TX: This is where you discover the coolest emerging new artists, alongside some of the more stalwart indie bands and musicians throughout a variety of genres, from hip-hop and rock to electro and Tejano. Rather than sweating it out on a massive outdoor field, SXSW goers hop from venue to venue (there are tons throughout Austin), soak up cheap booze, and socialize at countless after-parties. The list of acts is pretty huge, so check out the website for a complete lineup.

Ultra Music Festival – March 28-30, Miami, FL: Wild-eyed debauchery. Major, all-out EDM stages. Sunny Miami backdrop by the bay. Freaks and exhibitionists in madcap outfits, some who can’t help but engage in lunatic antics (remember the viral video of the girl kissing a tree?). Welcome to Ultra. This year’s lineup includes Carl Cox, Afrojack, Diplo, MGMT, M.I.A., Cut/Copy, Dizzee Rascal, Art Department, and Lee Burridge, among many others.

Coachella – April 11-13, April 18-20, Indio, CA: A two-weekend, three-day music showcase out in a desert valley in Southern California, Coachella is the maharajah of outdoor music festivals. Beautiful people, palm trees, scenic mountains, and surprise appearances all make this a much-coveted yearly event. Plus, there’s the quality of the acts, featuring, in this edition, an Outkast reunion (yes!), Arcade Fire, The Knife, Muse, Lana Del Rey, The Replacements, Bryan Ferry, Pharrell Williams, Nas, Kid Cudi, Little Dragon, Beck, Motörhead, Neutral Milk Hotel, and many more.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – April 25-27, May 1-4, New Orleans, LA: Any excuse to visit New Orleans is a good one—it’s an indomitable center of culture and music— but going there for the annual Jazz Fest, now celebrating its 45th anniversary, makes it even better. You’ll immerse yourself in lively, head-bopping performances by such legends as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Chick Corea & The Vigil, and the Rebirth Brass Band. But it’s not strictly jazz, as the lineup also includes headliners like Eric Claption, Santana, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Vampire Weekend, and Public Enemy.

Bonnaroo – June 12-15, Manchester, TN: A sprawling haven for those looking to get away from city lights and the quotidian hustle-and-bustle, Bonnaroo has had a loyal following for over a decade now. Music lovers unite and spread across a 700-acre farm in Tennessee, gathering at multiple stages to watch various live acts (that have included, in the past, everyone from Radiohead and Bob Dylan to Jay-Z and Beastie Boys) and camping overnight at sites throughout the grounds. There’s always free water and other activities to enjoy, such as a cinema tent, a comedy theater (with performers like Daniel Tosh, Mike Birbiglia, and David Cross), a silent disco, and a full yoga/meditation schedule. Log on to the website for this year’s full lineup.