In 2016, Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival burst onto the scene, sporting a truly stacked early-season lineup featuring Mumford & SonsKendrick LamarSkrillexBassnectarRobert PlantOdeszaDaryl Hall & John OatesThe Avett BrothersWeen, and so many more. The next year in March of 2017, the Okeechobee, Florida festival returned for its sophomore year and expanded to four days, similarly drawing a diverse range of artists across the bill with headliners like Kings of Leon, Usher & The RootsThe LumineersFlumeWiz KhalifaPretty Lights LiveSturgill SimpsonSolange, and others. While these lineups are truly impressive in their own right, the festival also hosts one of the most highly anticipated super jams of the year with the Okeechobee PoWoW!

Five Things That Make Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival Stand Out From The Pack

Already, Okeechobee has made waves in the music festival community for the event organizers’ attention to production and the experience as a whole; the event boasts a gorgeous, lake-side location with lush tree coverage, innovative art installations, creative vending and craft bazaars, and well-placed stages. However, as a 40,000-person festival, Okeechobee stands out because of its unique focus on musical diversity and collaboration—a trait that many “mainstream” festivals tend to lose as they get larger.

Enter the Okeechobee PoWoW!, an institution of the festival since its inaugural year when it hosted a super jam set led by R&B crooner Miguel and Arcade Fire mastermind Win Butler. During this first year, iconic old-school musical legends like The Meters’ rhythm section of Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter Jr. shared the stage with the new generation of musical masters including Lettuce’s and Soulive’s Eric Krasno and Neal Evans, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Horns. Added into this funky mix were slightly less predictable artists, including Hall & Oates own John OatesMumford & Sons frontman Marcus MumfordRage Against The Machine’s Tom MorelloPretty Lights Live turntablist Chris Karns, rapper Mac Miller, and even Skrillex (though the DJ came out to play guitar following the end of his overlapping own set).

PoWoW! 2016 – “Rock The Casbah”

[Video: Alex Knodel]

The first PoWoW! jam set a precedent for the following years, as it became known that the set would see truly big-name artists from hugely disparate backgrounds and genres coming together in celebration of music. Under the musical direction of Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno, the 2017 the PoWoW! went viral after videos of Solange and former Doobie Brothers frontman Michael McDonald’s collaboration on “What A Fool Believes” surfaced. The band for that stand-out rendition of the Doobie Brothers classic hit also featured Vulfpeck, Robert “Sput” Searight II (Snarky Puppy), The Snarky HornsAllen Stone, and Antwaun Stanley. However, other high-profile artists like future-funk sax player and DJ GRiZ, R&B singer Gallant, and more were also on hand throughout the set.

Okeechobee PoWoW! 2017 – “What A Fool Believes”

Keeping up its tradition of bringing together unlikely artists for a dance party celebration, the Okeechobee PoWoW! has tapped hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg to lead the festivities this year. The 2018 super jam will also feature other standout figures from the hip-hop world, including The Roots, the legendary hip-hop act and official house band for The Tonight Show. Representing other genres, the Queen of Funk herself, Chaka Khan, is also scheduled for an appearance, along with talented jazz organist and pianist Cory Henry (Snarky Puppy), high-energy New Orleans horn player Trombone Shorty, and Big Gigantic producer and saxophonist Dominic Lalli. However, while these are the announced artists on the PoWow! lineup thus far, the night is sure to offer surprising and spectacular guest sit-ins if past years are any indication.

The Okeechobee PoWow! hosts some of the most exciting musical moments of the year. However, much of the excitement surrounding these highly anticipated sets is a direct reflection of the festival’s sonic diversity. The intentionality given to each festival lineup—drawing the best and brightest from different genres and generations while still maintaining a cohesive vibe across the event’s four days—enables these seemingly unreal collaborations. Pair this with Okeechobee’s dedication to encouraging a participatory musical community among its artists, and you’ve got the foundation for a truly special show and sincere celebration of music in its purest form.

As Okeechobee rounds into its third year, all of the ingredients are there for it to be the best one yet. In addition to the Snoop Dogg-led super jam, the festival has tapped headliners Arcade FireBassnectar (two sets including a special full moon set), Halsey, and Travis Scott. The down-bill is no less impressive (and for our readership, likely more compelling) with acts like Leon BridgesThe Flaming LipsFoster The PeopleZeds DeadSlightly StoopidTipperBig GiganticSTS9Local NativesGramatikTrombone Shorty & Orleans AvenueThievery CorporationTychoSylvan EssoLettuceThe Funky MetersNightmares On Wax (live band), TwiddleTurkuazThe Main Squeeze, and many, many more.

Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2018 will take place from March 1st to March 4th at its gorgeous home in Okeechobee, Florida. For more information about Okeechobee, or to purchase tickets, head over to the festival’s website here. You can also follow the festival on Facebook to stay in the loop about special announcements.