There is something universal about the way a few bars of music can reach straight to the soul. Worship music especially allows listeners to feel the presence of a higher power right in their bones.
Faith-based groups can harness music as an emotional conduit to God with a trip to one of America’s Christian music festivals. Each of these events attracts a long roster of Christian music’s top-billed artists, so festivalgoers feel they’ve attended numerous concerts wrapped up into one.
Attendees not only listen to the uplifting music, but also participate in each of the festivals’ numerous activities, offered to add fun, prayer and creative outlets. After groups worship together at these festivals, they can also enjoy the area’s attractions for an experience that will solidify both faith and friendships.
Hills Alive Festival
Rapid City, South Dakota
Groups retreat into the Black Hills of South Dakota to unplug from the day-to-day stresses and devote time to the Lord at the Hills Alive Festival in Rapid City. Started in 1985, the festival provides a family environment for people to connect to their faith through contemporary Christian music.
Since it began 30-plus years ago, the festival has grown from six bands and a couple thousand people on just one day to more than 20 artists and up to 25,000 visitors over three days. The July festival starts on a Friday in Main Street Square and moves to Memorial Park for the rest of the weekend.
Last year, the concert drew RED, Sidewalk Prophets, Building 429 and Casting Crowns, among others.
While You’re There: Rapid City serves as a jumping-off point for several major parks in the area, including Badlands National Park, Custer State Park and the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
A plethora of attractions for groups await within the city limits. Many groups start at City View Trolley for a narrated tour of Rapid City with stops along the way. The city boasts two historic districts, bronze sculptures of the presidents, art galleries and the popular Journey Museum.
Set amid a forested backdrop, the Chapel in the Hills offers a place of quiet reflection for faith-based groups. The church replicates the striking Norwegian Borgan Stavkirke, with an attached museum illustrating the day-to-day realities of the area’s Scandinavian pioneers.
Kingdom Bound Festival
Darien, New York
Guests to the Kingdom Bound Festival not only listen for God’s message from top Christian artists, but also look for visual representations of God’s love in their own art. The four-day festival outside of Buffalo, New York, features popular Christian music, as well as a variety of activities, like the Art and Soul Workshops. Taught by artist Tony Goodwin, these sessions teach participants to find their inner creativity.
Seminars, worship gatherings, skits and games all revolve around biblical teachings. The July festival recently added Awaken, a new youth program geared toward high school and college students. The program engages groups with guided worship, keynote speakers, interactive games and breakout sessions.
The festival takes place on the grounds of Darien Lake Theme Park and partners with the amusement park’s lodge for packaged deals. Attendees can choose among the park’s lodge, cabin, bunk house or campgrounds. Those staying at the park’s accommodations can enjoy additional activities, including acoustic worship around the fire, morning worship services, open mic nights, movie nights and late-night dance parties.
What started as a basic Christian concert in 1986 grew quickly once the Darien Lake Theme Park became involved the next year. In 2016, the concert drew more than 40,000 for more than 40 musical acts, such as Skillet, RED, For King and Country and Rend Collective.
While You’re There: All tickets to the concert include access to the Darien Lake theme park. The park offers more than 45 rides, including six roller coasters, a wave pool, a lazy river, dozens of family rides and entertainment shows. The 1,200-acre park also contains the rustic 196-room Lodge of the Lake Hotel.
The park is in Darien, New York, in Genesee County, 45 minutes from Niagara Falls between Buffalo and Rochester. Groups in the area also take advantage of the region’s quaint towns, the JELL-O Gallery Museum and Darien Lakes State Park.