Five highlights from The New Colossus Festival (2023)

Credit: Liz McCarthy

From 8-12 March, New York City hosted the fifth annual (fourth edition, thanks pandemic), The New Colossus Festival.

With so many great artists and venues to explore and only five days to do so, I thought I’d condense my experience into a list of my top five highlights, showcasing why this is a must-attend festival every year.

So, here are my favourite moments from The New Colossus Festival (2023).

1. Great location

Known for its artistic and cultural scene, the Lower East Side, Manhattan is the perfect place for a multi-genre, multi-venue music festival.

The area’s unique vibe, coupled with the diverse crowd, creates an atmosphere that sets the tone for an unforgettable experience. 

When you’re not checking out great live performances, or you need to recharge, there are plenty of options for hotel accommodations, restaurants, late-night eats, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and coffee shops to choose from. It makes the five-day bar-hopping adventure easy.

Bonus game #1: as you’re moving from venue to venue, see how many cannabis shops you can count along the way.

2. Great venues

The venues chosen for the festival are unique and intimate, perfectly capturing its indie spirit.

Their dim lighting and part edgy, part lounge décor provide the perfect backdrop for the music being performed. It gives you a special feeling like you’re witnessing the next big thing in music while the musicians are only a few feet away.

Venues included:

  • Arlene’s Grocery
  • Berlin
  • Pianos
  • Bowery Electric
  • Heaven Can Wait
  • Mercury Lounge

Bonus game #2: almost every venue has candles on the tables… but will they be real or fake?

3. Diverse bands

Maybe my favourite part of The New Colossus Festival is the diversity of the music.

With over 125 artists, almost every genre is represented at the festival, including rock, folk, pop, electronic, hip-hop and more. I was even subjected to a few genres that I couldn’t describe.

If you have a collective taste in music, The New Colossus is for you.

4. Quality music from around the world

Some could classify The New Colossus as a celebration of music from all over the world. 

While I didn’t get to see every band I wanted to (a common theme at these events), I did prioritise my time on seeing the ones outside of North America.

And with the bands I did see, honestly, I was blown away. From day one to day five, something unique and fun was brought to the table.

Some of my favourites were:

Shout out to my Albertans:

5. It’s about the music

The New Colossus isn’t just a music festival. It’s also a music conference and networking event.

Partnering with Ditto X, The New Colossus brought some of the industry leaders from Spotify, TikTok, and Chartmetric, just to name a few, to discuss how their platforms can help smaller artists reach larger audiences and to give general advice to anyone trying to break into the scene.

The conference and workshops were only available for one half of the five-day festival, meaning that the performances were the priority. With fewer distractions and less focus on “showcasing”, it hones in on discovering new and exciting artists.

Huge shout out to all the organisers, volunteers, staff, and anyone else who worked tirelessly to bring this incredible experience to life.

To learn more about The New Colossus Festival, check out their website.

To discover more bands from The New Colossus Festival, check out their playlist.