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Iowa’s Hinterland music festival: A star-studded lineup with small-town spirit

Catch some of the festival's performers in Madison and Milwaukee this summer

By Eric Bartos
Noah Kahan performs on the Hinterland stage in front of a large crowd in 2023. A Hinterland sign is above the stage in blue with with letters.
Noah Kahan performing at Hinterland 2023. Eric Bartos/WPR

Hinterland Music Festival, located in St. Charles, Iowa — a town with a population of less than 700 — is not somewhere that you would expect to catch artists who played the stages of Lollapalooza and Coachella.

Yet, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Hinterland 2024, a low-key festival featuring performances from Hozier, Chappell Roan, Hippo Campus and many others Aug. 2-4.

Now in its ninth year, the festival has consistently brought some of the biggest names in folk, bluegrass and indie rock to the stage. In 2023, the lineup featured Zach Bryan, Maggie Rogers and as the opening night headliner, Wisconsin’s own Bon Iver.  

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This year, the lineup features headliners Hozier, Vampire Weekend and Noah Kahan, who’s returning to the festival for his second year in a row. In addition to the main stage, those who choose to camp on the festival grounds have access to the Campfire Stage for exclusive performances after the main festival grounds close.

Bon Iver at Hinterland 2023
Bon Iver headlining day one of Hinterland 2023. Eric Bartos/WPR

With such a wide variety of music spread throughout the three days, Hinterland truly is a festival for everyone. The single stage setup creates a feeling of community and gives a much more relaxed atmosphere than some larger festivals. There is no running between stages, giving festivalgoers the opportunity to grab a spot and enjoy the music all day without the worry of missing out on their favorite artist. 

For those looking to explore the festival grounds between shows, there are vendors selling merch for performers along with artists showcasing their own creations and memorabilia. You’ll find everything from jewelry, clothing, art and records available for purchase. As with all music festivals, there will be a variety of food and drink vendors to keep festivalgoers hydrated and energized.

Del Water Gap performing at Hinterland 2023. Eric Bartos/WPR

Tickets for the festival are nearly sold out. But you can look for opportunities to see some of these artists locally. Molly Martin, playing the Campfire Stage on Aug. 2, will be at the Bur Oak in Madison on July 28. Vampire Weekend will be playing at the BMO Pavilion in Milwaukee on Aug. 1, just before playing at Hinterland on Aug. 3. 

While camping is the best way to experience the festival, you can still enjoy the weekend while staying at a hotel. This year, the festival will have shuttles running between the festival grounds and Des Moines. Camping or not, if you’re interested in a weekend full of folk, alternative and indie music, Hinterland will not disappoint. It’s a short drive past the middle of nowhere — just make sure to stop when you hear the music.

Maggie Rogers headlining on day three and closing out Hinterland 2023. Eric Bartos/WPR