The Northlands Music & Arts Festival will kick off its inaugural year Friday and Saturday at the Cheshire Fairgrounds in North Swanzey.

The festival will feature 15 performers across two stages. The lineup includes American rock band Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, New Hampshire reggae/rock artist Joe Samba, jazz/hip hop band Lettuce, and more. The full schedule is listed on the festival’s website.

“We’ve curated a fantastic diversity of genres, basically an entire season worth of dynamic bands and lined them all up for one fantastic weekend of music,” Northlands Director Seth McNally said in a news release.

Hayley Jane and the Primates, an Americana, soul, and rock and roll band, will reunite at Northlands for the first time since its hiatus in 2019, McNally said. The band is slated to take the stage on Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Festival-goers will also have the chance to see Melvin Seals Grateful Revue, a band McNally said was put together exclusively for Northlands. The band includes a collection of artists organized by Melvin Seals, member of the Jerry Garcia Band.

In addition to live music, attendees can see installation and performance art ranging from “stretched fabric canopies to wooden sculptures to huge murals being painted live during the festival,” said Mike Chadinha, Northlands’ director of operations, in the news release.

People can also visit 15 craft artists and vendors and eat from more than a dozen food trucks.

All production crews and food and craft vendors will be from the area, fulfilling the festival’s mission of being an “economic driver for the local economy,” according to the release.

Northlands is partnering with SAVRcup to carry out a sustainability initiative that includes eliminating single-use plastics from the festival and heightened recycling efforts. Festival-goers can buy a reusable cup for $4 and refill it as needed throughout the festival, McNally said. The purchase comes with a $1-off coupon for their first drink.

On-site camping options are available, sold separately from festival passes. Campers will have access to exclusive activities, including early-morning yoga at the start of each day and silent discos from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. both nights, according to McNally.

General admission and VIP passes are also available on the festival’s website. VIP passes include access to a VIP-only lounge tent, private bar, a viewing area close to both stages, and more.

The Northlands Music & Arts Festival grew out of a pandemic-era series of drive-thru concerts that were held at the Cheshire Fairgrounds in 2020. Last year, it was rebranded to Northlands with about 30 concerts held in “socially-distanced pods,” McNally said.

The 2021 concerts included a partnership and donation to Music Drives Us, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting and providing access to music education opportunities throughout New England, according to the organization’s website.

Northlands will have a charitable component again this year, to be announced after the festival’s conclusion, McNally said.

Although Northlands was unable to do a full season of shows due to other events being held at the fairgrounds, McNally said this year’s festival was a “perfect opportunity” to hold Northland’s first multi-day festival.

General admission prices start at $79 for a one-day pass and $20 for a kids pass (ages 4-12).

More information about Northlands’ inaugural festival can be found at

Caitlin Howard can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1441, or

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