Women’s Music Festivals for Every Amazon

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Women’s music festivals have been a cornerstone of lesbian culture since the 70s. Women-only and women-centered space is a place to revel in the diversity, the depth and breadth, of the female experience. We heal, grow, evolve in such spaces, which is I guess why men and patriarchal loyalists find them so threatening. Those suffering from “post-patriarchy” delusions might not mind that women-centered and lesbian-centered spaces are rapidly disappearing or being redefined out of existence. The rest of us are out here searching for Home.

If you’re dreaming of Lesbian Nation, if you want to hold space for sisters, or have space held for you, here’s a breakdown of a bunch of women’s festivals that are active in the US.

Michigan Framily Reunion

Where: Wayland, Michigan

Tent and RV camping

When: August 3-6, 2018

Accessibility: Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing interpreters at stages

Line-Up: Abigail Stauffer, C.C. Carter, Ginger Doss & Lynda Millard, Lady Ace Boogie, Lisa Noe, Kyla P., Tina She, Sista Otis, Crys Matthews, Be Steadwell, Ruth Barrett w/Pele & Rachel Alexander, Summer Osbourne

Michigan Family Reunion is organized by long-time workers and attendees of the original Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Held near Lansing, Michigan on private land, MFR features musicians, comedians, drumming, poetry and magic. It also has workshops on all sorts of topics related to feminism, lesbian culture, and the arts. Of particular interest to AfterEllen readers is speed dating and workshops about lesbian sex. I often think wistfully about the hot outdoor showers at MichFest, and I think it’s worth mentioning MFR is reviving this little piece of women’s culture. Carrying on another important tradition of MichFest, MFR is a safe space for women of color, and in addition to a WOC-only space, there are many activities and workshops for women of color only.

Dinah Shore Weekend 

photo: Club Skirts The Dinah

Where: Palm Springs, CA

When: March 28 – April 1, 2018

Accessibility: Multiple venues with different accessibility

Line-up: (TBD)

The largest lesbian weekend worldwide, Dinah Shore offers music, comedy, and a lot of time in the pool. This lesbian spring break has been running since 1991. Past headliners include Lady GaGa, The Indigo Girls, Kesha, Salt ‘N Pepa among many other top-tier performers. The Dinah also brings together celesbians like the stars of The L Word and The Real L Word. AfterEllen attends every year for a reason – it’s the most fun you’ll have and it’s a lesbian paradise.

Ohio Lesbian Festival

Bitch Crowd Surfing at OLF

Where: Hoover Y

1570 Rohr Road, Lockbourne, OH

Tent and RV camping

When: September 20-23, 2018

Accessibility: Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing interpreters at stages. This year’s venue is more wheelchair accessible, get in touch with the organizers for more questions.

Line-Up: Ferron, Reina Williams, Erin McKeown, Elvira Kurt

Now in its 29th year, Ohio Lesbian Festival features workshops, music, RV and tent camping, in an accessible location near Columbus. While this festival is lesbian-focused, it creates and holds space for all womyn, of all experiences. This festival includes MTF transwomen in its intention.

You can join the work crew for this festival including set up and strike and special duties.

All attendees sign up for a 2-hour work shift to build community and make the festival run. There are options for every level of ability.

A merchant and crafts market offers attendees all sorts of treasures, from clothes, to crystals, to sex toys.

OLF offers a diverse lineup of workshops. This “Lavender University” is a great place to learn new skills, play, have deep conversations, and take a break from the crowd around the stage.

 

National Women’s Music Festival

Gaye Adegbalola & The Wild Rutz

Where: Marriott Madison West, 1313 John Q. Hammons Dr.

Middleton, Wisconsin

When: July 5-8, 2018

Performers: Past Performers include Cris Williamson, Kate Clinton, Karen Williams, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Linda Tillery, Jamie Anderson, Holly Near, the Dance Brigade, Melissa Ferrick, Sawagi Taiko, Ferron, Ellis, Ember Swift, Betty, and Margie Adam to just mention a few. Guest speakers have included Geraldine Ferraro, Rita Mae Brown, Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, NPR reporter and writer Margot Adler, Katherine V. Forrest, artist Judy Chicago, Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, Pat Califia, Betty DeGeneres, Anita Hill and Judy Goldsmith.

Accessibility: ASL interpretation at all stages, interpreters can be requested for workshops. The festival takes place inside of a hotel, so it is wheelchair accessible. Respite chairs are available for those walking long distances between stages or workshops.

Put on by the non-profit Women In the Arts, the festival has been happening in the Midwest since 1974. “Attendees come from all genders and cultures, cutting across ethnic, racial, sexual, age, and ability boundaries.”

“The National Women’s Music Festival is a four-day musical and cultural extravaganza that incorporates all facets of women’s lives. It’s a jam-packed long weekend where choices for things to do range from workshops, concerts, comedy, theatre presentations, a marketplace, newly released films and videos, a live auction, spirituality series, writer’s series and much, much more!”

Virginia’s Women’s Music Festival

Virginia Women’s Music Festival

Where: CampOut in Henrico, Virginia

When: Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Line-Up: Jamie Anderson, Crys Matthews, Mama’s Black Sheep, Christine Havrilla, Someone’s Sister, Kristen Ford, Sharon Katz & the Peace Train, Bele Bele Rhythm Collective, Wicked Jezabel, Sister Funk, Alma Hesson, Indigie Femme, Christy Snow, One Third Wish, SONiA disappear fear

Accessibility: backcountry camping with the option of assistance in setting up or breaking down camp

The Virginia Women’s Music Festival offers a uniquely intimate experience of primitive tent camping on women’s land. The land is maintained as a women’s campground spring throug fall, and 99% of the maintenance and improvements to the land come from women’s labor. The festival also has limited space for RVs and cabins, but you have to reserve early! The festival also welcomes the leisurely camper: you can rent a tent and hammock and staff will put it up and take it down for you. Perfect for those indoorsy lesbians who don’t have a closet chock full of REI gear.

 

 

Women’s Redrock Music Festival


Where: Robber’s Roost Bookstore in Torrey, Utah

When: August 10-11, 2018

Line-Up: Cris Williamson, Flor de Toloache, Nobody’s Girl, Sister Wives, Robyn Gage, Kristen Ford, Maiah Wynne & Her Sleepless Knights, The Cabin Project, The Blue Janes, Shubhangi Joshi, Sarah Degraw and the Odd Jobs, Camille Bloom, Dirty Cellos

Accessibility: 

This all-gender, woman-centered festival styles itself as “Music by Women…..for Everyone.” Their goal is to “to empower and support independent women musicians from around the U.S. and the world.” Stay in beautiful Torrey, Utah. Food, wine and beer is available on site.

Everyone is welcome at this new one-day festival, which calls itself “a community based organization here to support community for every woman!”

SisterSpace

Where: Darlington, MD

When: September 7-9, 2018

Line-up: Holly Near, Cris Williamson, Crys Matthews, Be Steadwell

Accessibility: indoor dining hall, golf cart shuttle available, grass and gravel sections may be difficult for a wheelchair. ASL interpretation is available for all performances and a heads up prior will guarantee an interpreter is there.

SisterSpace is a campout with music, standup, workshops, and meals (including vegetarian options) included. Says Jo-Ann, one of the organizers, “Our Theme last year was ReSisterSpace where we did Workshops on empowerment, activism, self care, just plain fun and more. This year, we’re building on that with the theme Her(Story). We have several workshops again about empowerment but also about coming together, learning how to talk and listen to each other, and hearing and celebrating each other’s stories. In addition, we will be posting various women’s stories all over the Land.” Workshops include arts and crafts, as well as car maintenance, salsa dancing, bellydance, yoni health and a red tent. There are four dances, sports and opportunities for political activism and organizing.

Sisterfire

Where: Washington, DC

When: July 7-8, 2018

Line-up: Toshi Reagon and BIG Lovely, Tatiana Aqeel, Be Steadwell, Venus Thrash, Martha Redbone, Alicia Partnoy, Holly Near, Roya Marsh, Carolyn Malachi

Accessibility: Multiple venues around DC with different accessibility

Part of the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Sisterfire offers poetry, spoken word, and activist reflections on women’s cultures past and future. It’s produced by the collective Roadwork, and their mission in their own words is: “founded in 1978 by women leaders from African American civil rights, women’s, global justice, and lesbian-feminist movements, Roadwork aims at transforming consciousness and creating new movements in global arts and social justice.”