3. Location — While in the past, Phoenix, Arizona might not have made the cut for the most influential cities when it comes to the arts, increasingly, that is beginning to change. Phoenix is currently undergoing an artistic renaissance, and McDowell Mountain Music Festival is situated squarely in the center of this resurgence. Downtown Phoenix is becoming a cool get-away destination for younger folks who are attracted to its abundant music venues, restaurants, and bars, as well as the First Friday Artwalks, which consistently draw thousands of people out and into the streets.Plus, for those of us who may not live in the area, it probably does not hurt to mention that the Southwest is beautiful and filled with pristine desert landscapes unlike anywhere else in the United States. With the Grand Canyon directly due north by a few hours and countless national and state parks a hop and skip away from Phoenix, hitting MMMF before moseying on to enjoy some of the most-sought camping and hiking in the Southwest isn’t out of the question.[Photo courtesy of the National Park Service]4. Family-Friendly Atmosphere — If you have kids, McDowell Mountain Music Festival is the event for you. The event actively tries to be inclusive for kids and families, carving out space where parents and kiddos can all have a grand ol’ time together without worry. Plus, regardless of whether or not you have kids that you’re planning on wranglin’ during the festival, there is something wonderful and heartwarming about seeing people of all ages banding together to celebrate a common love of music. Seeing kids running around a festival gives all of us permission to be silly and take ourselves less seriously, a reminder that is increasingly needed in our work-oriented society. 5. Timing — Once the summer hits, for music lovers, things get crazy. Calendars fill up fast with festivals, shows, vacations, and more in addition to needing to honor a basic need for all of us to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. The final thing we love about the McDowell Mountain Music Festival is that it spares us the need to choose between all these summer getaways, as the festival falls during early March. Most festivals can’t swing this early timing, as they’re located in areas that aren’t necessarily the most hospitable to visitors in the winter. Because Phoenix is known for its gorgeous weather year round, MMMF is perfect as an early-season festival to warm-up for the summer. And when we say warm up, we mean it. The average high temperature for early March in Phoenix is a perfect 73 degrees, and this fact alone should justify coming out for the festival. Since 2004, McDowell Mountain Music Festival (MMMF) has been establishing itself as a premiere music festival in the Southwest. It has built this name for itself, not only because of the big acts that it draws to Phoenix, Arizona each year, but also because of its commitment to its guiding principles—the 3 C’s: community, culture, and charity. This year, the festival falls on March 3rd to March 5th, and we’ve picked out our top reasons why you’re not going to want to miss it.With three-day tickets ringing in at less than $100, you’re not going to want to miss it. Tickets and more information about MMMF are available at the festival’s website.1. Diverse Musical Lineup — McDowell Mountain Music Festival is able to retain its title as one of the top music festivals in the Southwest because of its ability to bring a vast array of musical acts to downtown Phoenix. There’s a little something for everyone, and visitors would be hard-pressed to find something that doesn’t whet their musical appetites within the festival’s extensive and impressively diverse three-day lineup.This year, MMMF is keeping with this tradition of bringing together a broad range of awesome musical acts. Friday has a distinct indie-rock flavor, with electronic duo Bob Moses, indie-rock outfit Grouplove, and the ever-popular indie band The Shins rounding out Friday’s final three performances on the main stage. Saturday’s line-up is explicitly more dancey, with Brooklyn funk favorites Turkuaz setting the mood when they throw down in the afternoon. Following Colorado electronic-jam trio Sunsquabi, huge acts like Chromeo, Emancipator Ensemble, and Flume will be ensuring that bodies will stay moving and groovin’ for the rest of the night. Finally, Sunday’s line-up is stacked for what is being called “Jam Church.” With Railroad Earth, Lettuce, and Gov’t Mule all holding it down on from 5 P.M. onwards, Sunday’s lineup is sure to be the perfect note to end your weekend on.2. Charity — As a 100% non-profit music festival, McDowell Mountain Music Festival distinguishes itself not only through the awesome lineups it repeatedly pulls each year but also because of its humanitarian intentions that resonate throughout the festival. All of the proceeds from the festival are donated to good causes. Since 2004, McDowell Mountain Music Festival has raised over a million dollars for local charities and to the benefit of their larger community.This year, the proceeds will be split evenly between the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, one of the largest children’s hospitals in the United States, and UMOM New Day Center, the largest homeless shelter in the state of Arizona. Such organizations are hugely necessary to support and easy to rally behind, regardless of what your political leanings may be. Also, because these organizations are local to Phoenix, the donations from the festivals are likely to have a direct positive impact on individuals’ lives. In the end, it’s wonderful when music lovers can get together and do what they love while also supporting nonpartisan charities such as these. You can get tickets for the McDowell Mountain Music Festival here. You can also get more information about the festival, peep the schedule for the weekend, and read a little bit more about what makes MMMF great via the festival’s website here.