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Rock festival

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Subject: New Orleans Pop Festival, Palm Springs Pop Festival, Sky River Rock Festival, Monterey Pop Festival, National Jazz and Blues Festival
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Rock festival

Rock festival
Woodstock in 1969
General Information
Related genres Rock (electronic rock, punk rock, psychedelic rock, etc.), country music, jam band music, metal music
Location Worldwide
Related events Music festival, pop festival, jam band festival, heavy metal festival, punk rock festival, reggae festival, industrial music festival, Christian music festival, concert tour, rock concert

A rock festival, often considered synonymous with pop festival, is a large-scale rock music concert, featuring multiple acts performing an often diverse range of popular music including rock, pop, folk, electronic, and related genres. As originally conceived in the mid to late 1960s, rock festivals were held outdoors, often in open rural areas or open-air sports arenas, fairgrounds and parks, typically lasted two or more days, featured long rosters of musical performers, and attracted very large crowds - sometimes numbering several hundred thousand people. A rock festival can also refer to a festival focused on a specific rock subgenre, such as a punk rock festival, gothic festival, or heavy metal festival.


  • History 1
  • Features 2
  • List of rock festivals 3
    • Lists by genre 3.1
    • Historic rock festivals 3.2
      • 1950s-1960s: First festivals 3.2.1
      • 1970: International spread 3.2.2
      • 1971-1979: Addition of punk and metal 3.2.3
      • 1980s-2010s: Genre proliferation 3.2.4
    • Traveling festivals 3.3
    • Current festivals 3.4
      • No fixed location 3.4.1
      • North America 3.4.2
        • Canada
        • United States
      • Latin America 3.4.3
        • Argentina
        • Brazil
        • Chile
        • Colombia
        • Dominican Republic
        • Mexico
      • Europe 3.4.4
        • Belgium
        • Denmark
        • Finland
        • France
        • Germany
        • The Netherlands
        • Norway
        • Romania
        • Sweden
        • United Kingdom
      • Rest of Europe 3.4.5
      • Oceania 3.4.6
        • Australia
        • New Zealand
      • Asia 3.4.7
      • Middle East and Africa 3.4.8
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • External links 6


Initially, some of the earliest rock festivals were built on the foundation of pre-existing jazz and blues festivals, but quickly evolved to reflect the rapidly changing musical tastes of the time. For example, the United Kingdom’s National Jazz Festival was launched in Richmond from August 26–27, 1961. The first three of these annual outdoor festivals featured only jazz music, but by the fourth "Jazz & Blues Festival" in 1964, a shift had begun that incorporated some blues and pop artists into the lineup. In 1965, for the first time the event included more blues, pop and rock acts than jazz, and by 1966, when the event moved to the town of Windsor, the rock and pop acts clearly dominated the jazz artists.[1]

A similar, though more rapid, evolution occurred with Jazz Bilzen, a solely jazz festival that was inaugurated in 1965 in the Belgian city of Bilzen. The 1966 festival still featured mostly jazz acts. However, by the time of the third festival from August 25–27, 1967, rock and pop acts had edged out most of the jazz bands and become the main attraction.[2]

In the United States, rock festivals seemed to spring up with a more self-defined musical identity. Preceded by several precursor events in the San Francisco area, the first two rock festivals in the US were staged in northern California on consecutive weekends in the summer of 1967: the KFRC Fantasy Fair & Magic Mountain Music Festival on Mount Tamalpais (June 10–11) and the Monterey International Pop Festival (June 16–17).[3][4][5]

The Nambassa Festival in New Zealand

The concept caught fire and spread quickly as rock festivals took on a unique identity and attracted significant media attention around the world. By 1969, promoters were staging dozens of them. According to Bill Mankin, in their dawning age rock festivals were important socio-cultural milestones: "… it would not be an exaggeration to say that, over a few short years, rock festivals played a unique, significant – and underappreciated – role in fueling the countercultural shift that swept not only America but many other countries [during the 1960s]. It seems fitting… that one of the most enduring labels for the entire generation of that era was derived from a rock festival: the ‘Woodstock Generation’."[6]

Reflecting their musical diversity and the then-common term ‘pop music’, for the first few years, particularly in the US, many rock festivals were called ‘pop festivals’. This also served to distinguish them among the ticket-buying public from other, pre-existing types of music festivals such as jazz and folk festivals. By the end of 1972, the term ‘pop festival’ had virtually disappeared as festival promoters adopted more creative, unique and location-specific names to identify and advertise their events. While it was still in vogue, however, over-zealous promoters eager to capitalize on the festival concept made the most of it, with some using the term "Pop Festival" or "Rock Festival" to advertise events held on a single day or evening, often indoors, and featuring only a handful of acts.[7]

Today, rock festivals are still usually open-air concerts spread out over several days. Many are annual events sponsored by the same organization, and many feature a single type or closely related genres of music such as dance, electronic, or heavy metal.


Production and financing

Several of the early rock festival organizers of the 1960s such as Ubi Dwyer and Sid Rawle were imprisoned for attempting to promote a 1975 Windsor Festival,[8][9][10][11] and the British police would later outright attack free festival attendees at the 1985 Battle of the Beanfield.

Festivals may require millions of USD to be organized, with the money often gathered through fundraising and angel investors.[12][13]

Stages and sound systems

While rock concerts typically feature a small lineup of rock bands playing a single stage, rock festivals often grow large enough to require several stages or venues with live bands playing concurrently. Some of these stages may in turn become known and large enough to be seen as festivals themselves, such as The Glade at the famous Glastonbury Festival in England. As rock music has increasingly been fused with other genres, sometimes stages will be devoted to a specific genre, such as folk rock or reggae. Some festivals such as SXSW hold smaller concurrent concerts throughout a city.

Advances in sound reinforcement systems beginning in the 1960s enabled larger and larger rock festival audiences to hear the performers' music with much better clarity and volume. The best example was the pioneering work of Bill Hanley, known as the "father of festival sound", who provided the sound systems for numerous rock festivals including Woodstock. Other examples included the Wall of Sound invented in the 1970s to allow the Grateful Dead to play to larger audiences, and mobile sound systems such as those maintained by The Merry Pranksters, which would later be important in the development of events such as reggae festivals and raves.

Camping and crowd control

Many festivals offer camping, either because lodging in the area is insufficient to support the crowd, or to allow easy multi-day access to the festival's features. Festival planning and logistics are frequently a focus of the media, and while some festivals such as the historic Sky River Rock Festival were seen as logistical successes, other festivals such as the heavily commercialized Woodstock 1999 were crowd control disasters, with insufficient water and other resources provided to audiences. Many early rock festivals successfully relied on volunteers for crowd control, for example individuals like Wavy Gravy and biker groups such as the Hells Angels[14] and Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club.[15] Gravy in particular called his security group the "Please Force," a reference to their non-intrusive tactics at keeping order, e.g., "Please don't do that, please do this instead". When asked by the press — who were the first to inform him that he and the rest of his commune were handling security — what kind of tools he intended to use to maintain order at Woodstock in 1969, his response was "Cream pies and seltzer bottles."[14] Other rock festivals hire private security or local police departments for crowd control, with varying degrees of success.[16]

List of rock festivals

Lists by genre

Rock festival lists, categories, and media collections
List Category Media
List of rock festivals Category Rock festivals Commons page
List of pop festivals Category Pop music festivals Commons page
List of free festivals Category Free festivals Commons page
List of jam band music festivals Category Jam band festivals Commons page
List of heavy metal festivals Category Heavy metal festivals Commons page
List of punk rock festivals Category Punk rock festivals Commons page
List of industrial music festivals Category Industrial music festivals Commons page
List of gothic festivals Category Goth festivals Commons page
List of indie rock festivals Category Indie rock festivals
List of K-pop festivals Category K-pop festivals

Historic rock festivals

1950s-1960s: First festivals

Sample of rock festivals of historical significance, with an emphasis on multiple-day, outdoor events
Name Year Location Notes Picture
Historic jazz festivals 1950s- 1960s (many) US/Europe Some early jazz festivals and blues festivals were showcases for rock and roll artists, primarily in the United States and the United Kingdom. See list of historic jazz festivals for more details.
Swamp Pop Music Festival 1950s- 1960s Louisiana "Swamp pop" is a distinctive style of music that began in the 1950s when Louisiana teenagers first heard new rock-n-roll idols like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Fats Domino on the radio. The Festival's most popular period was between 1958 to 1964, when nearly two dozen swamp pop recordings reached the national charts.[17]
Newport Jazz Festival 1954– present Newport, Rhode Island It was established in 1954 by socialite Elaine Lorillard. While initially focused on acoustic jazz, the festival's 1969 program was an experiment in fusing jazz, soul and rock music and audiences.
Beaulieu Jazz Festival 1956-61 Beaulieu, Hampshire Lord Montagu of Beaulieu holds an annual traditional and modern jazz festival in the ground of Beaulieu estate, in the New Forest. Attracts beats and jazz eccentrics, called 'ravers', and both pop and jazz music.[18]
National Jazz and Blues Festival 1961- 1980s United Kingdom Mostly oriented around jazz and blues to start, this annual festival soon became a showcase for progressive rock as well, featuring groups such as the psychedelic rock group Cream.
Reading and Leeds Festivals 1961– present England The line-up settled into a pattern of progressive rock, blues and hard rock during the early and mid 1970s[19] then became the first music festival to embrace punk rock and new wave in the late 1970s.[20]
Jazz Bilzen 1965- '81 Bilzen, Belgium First festival on the continent where jazz and pop music were brought together. Sometimes called the "mother of all (European) festivals," Bilzen started out jazz, but soon blues, folk, rock and soul, later even punk and new wave, came to be incorporated as well.
Gitarijada (Belgrade) 1966– '67 Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia Gitarijada (Guitar Fest) was a rock festival held in Belgrade. The festival was one of the first rock festivals in Yugoslavia and considered one of the milestones in the history of Yugoslav rock music.[21][22][23][24] The first edition of the festival was attended by more than 15,000[23] and the second by more than 13,000 spectators.[25]
Gitarijada (Zaječar) 1966– present (1966– 1991) (1991– present) Zaječar, Serbia Gitarijada (Guitar Fest) is a musical festival held in Zaječar in order to promote demo bands. Gitarijada is one of the longest lasting festivals in Serbia and in South Eastern Europe and the largest festival of young and unaffirmed bands in South Eastern Europe.[26]
Trips Festival 1966 San Francisco, California The Trips Festival on January 21–23, 1966 was the most attended and advertised of the early Acid Tests events, which were started in late 1965.[27] Ten thousand people attended this sold-out event, with a thousand more turned away each night.[28] On Saturday January 22, Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company came on stage, and 6,000 people arrived to imbibe punch spiked with LSD and to witness one of the first fully developed light shows of the era.[29] Grateful Dead sound engineer Ken Babbs notably created a new sound system for the festival, building sound amplifiers that didn't distort when turned up to high sound levels. The Trips Festival was followed by the October 6, 1966 Love Pageant Rally, held in San Francisco to protest the banning of LSD.
Mantra-Rock Dance 1967 California Occurring several weeks after the International Society of Krishna Consciousness to introduce its founder to a wider American audience.
Fantasy Fair and
Magic Mountain
Music Festival
1967 Marin County, California Over 36,000 people attended the two-day concert and fair on June 10 and 11th, that was the first of a series of San Francisco area cultural events known as the Summer of Love. Influenced by the popular Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which was founded in Irwindale, California in 1963 as the first large renaissance fair. Fantasy Fair became a prototype for large scale multi-act outdoor rock music events now known as rock festivals.
Monterey Pop Festival 1967 Monterey, California Major one-time cultural event on June 16–18, with genres including rock, pop and folk, including blues-rock, folk rock, hard rock and psychedelic rock styles.
Schaefer Music Festival 1967-'76 New York City First held in the summer of 1966 in Central Park as the small event the Rheingold Central Park Music Festival, the first lineup in July 1967 with the new name included only The Young Rascals; The Jimi Hendrix Experience; and Len Chandler. The lineup afterwards grew exponentially, with diverse genres related to blues and pop. On 21 July 1969 Led Zeppelin were the headliners of the Schaefer Music Festival at New York City's Wollman Rink, along with B.B. King.[30]
Miami Pop Festival I 1968 Hallandale, Florida An estimated 25,000 people attended the May event, which was promoted by Richard O'Barry and Michael Lang, later famous as promoter of Woodstock.
Northern California Folk Rock Festival I 1968 San Jose, California May 18–19, 1968. The first festival featured notable bands such as Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Janis Joplin, The Youngbloods, Electric Flag, Kaleidoscope, Taj Mahal, etc.
Summerfest 1968– present Milwaukee, Wisconsin Billed as "The World's Largest Music Festival" by the Guinness World Records since 1999,[31][32] this 11-day event is held between late June and early July, encompassing all genres of musical styles.
Newport Pop Festival 1968-'69 Costa Mesa, California August 3–4, 1968. The first music concert ever to have more than 100,000 paid attendees. Also held the following year.
Isle of Wight Festival 1968-'70, 2002– present Isle of Wight, England 31 August and 1 September 1968. Progressive rock counterculture event. The 1970 event was by far the largest of the early ones, and led, in 1971, to Parliament passing the "Isle of Wight Act" preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special licence.
Sky River Rock Festival 1968-'70 Skykomish River, Washington First held Aug 31-Sep 2, 1968 (as well as Aug 30-Sep 1, 1969; Aug 28-Sep...1970), it was the first multi-day outdoor hippie rock festival at an undeveloped site.[33] Included the Lighter Than Air Fair.
Internationale Essener Songtage 1968 Essen, Germany September 1968. Krautrock arose at this first major, weeklong, indoors German rock festival.[34]
Hyde Park Free Concerts 1968–'76 Hyde Park, London UK—single-day events
San Francisco Pop Festival 1968 San Francisco, California Held Saturday October 26 & Sunday October 27, 1968. The groups playing at the festival included The Animals, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.
Los Angeles Pop Festival 1968 Los Angeles, California The dates were December 22 and 23, 1968, with groups such as Blue Cheer, The Box Tops, Canned Heat, etc.
Miami Pop Festival II 1968 Hallandale, Florida December 28–30, 1968. This event (which had no connection to the May Miami Pop Festival) drew an estimated 100,000 people, was the first major rock festival on America's east coast, and was produced by Tom Rounds, who had previously produced the seminal Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival.
Palm Springs Pop Festival 1969 Palm Springs, California Held April 1–2, 1969,[35] the lineup featured bands such as Moby Grape. The situation went sour when policing efforts militarized the three-day event and there were riots,[16] and a young concert-goer was shot and killed by a nearby store clerk. Concert permits were not issued in Palm Springs afterwards for many years.[36]
Big Rock Pow-Wow 1969 West Hollywood, Florida Took place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 23, 24, and 25, 1969, at the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation in West Hollywood, Florida. Artists who performed at the festival included Grateful Dead, Johnny Winter, Rhinoceros, Muddy Waters, the Youngbloods, with Timothy Leary speaking from the stage.
Northern California Folk-Rock Festival II 1969 San Jose, California May 23–25, the festival featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, etc.
Aquarian Family Festival 1969 San Jose, California Free three-day music festival, which was held in San Jose, California on May 23, 24, and 25, 1969. Some of the performers included Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Moby Grape, etc. Independent sources estimated attendance at 200,000 people
First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival 1969 Detroit, MI May 30–31, 1969, held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Local artists such as Sun Ra played, as well as Chuck Berry, MC5 and Stooges.[37]
Newport 69 Pop Festival 1969 Northridge, Los Angeles June 20–22, 1969
Toronto Pop Festival 1969 Toronto June 21–22, 1969
Bath Festival of Blues 1969 Somerset, England Saturday 28 June 1969. Developed by Freddy Bannister and Wendy Bannister, it had a lineup of British blues bands, including Fleetwood Mac (the headliners), John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, The Nice, Chicken Shack, Jon Hiseman's Colosseum, Mick Abrahams' Blodwyn Pig amongst others.[38]
Pop Festival
1969 Denver, Colorado Three-day music festival promoted by rock promoter Barry Fey (Feyline) on June 27-June 29, 1969 which was largely overshadowed by Woodstock two months later. With the full support and local resources of Denver, the peak attendance was estimated at 50,000.
Mississippi River Festival 1969- '80 Edwardsville, IL MRF consisted of a variety of popular rock, folk, bluegrass, and classical music performers.[39] The more popular groups, such as The Who, Yes, Chicago, Eagles, and Grateful Dead shows were heavily attended. Some shows attracting crowds in excess of 30,000.[40] In July 1969, Bob Dylan did a short surprise gig, together with The Band. It was his first performance since his notorious motorcycle accident in 1966.
Saugatuck Pop Festival 1969 Saugatuck Second Annual (July 4–5, 1969)
Atlanta International Pop Festival I 1969 Hampton The first Atlanta festival was held July 4–5, 1969, at the . Chicago Transit Authority, and Canned Heat, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin Performers included [41]
The Stones in the Park 1969 Hyde Park, London Free outdoor festival held on 5 July 1969, headlined by The Rolling Stones and featuring Third Ear Band, King Crimson, Screw, Alexis Korner's New Church, Family and The Battered Ornaments,[42] in front of a crowd estimated at between 250,000[42] and 500,000 fans.[43][44][45]
Laurel Pop Festival 1969 Laurel, MD A music festival held at the Laurel Race Course in Laurel, MD on July 11–12, 1969. The festival featured Buddy Guy, Al Kooper, Jethro Tull, Johnny Winter, Edwin Hawkins and Led Zeppelin (on July 11); and Jeff Beck, Ten Years After, Sly and the Family Stone, The Mothers of Invention, Savoy Brown and Guess Who (on July 12).[46]
Summer Pop Festival 1969 Had Led Zeppelin at the Summer Pop Festival on 12 July,[47]
Midwest Rock Festival 1969 Milwaukee, Wisconsin A music festival held at the State Fair Park on the July 25–27, 1969. The festival featured Led Zeppelin, Buffy Sainte-Marie, The First Edition, Sweetwater, Pacific Gas & Electric, SRC and Shag (July 25); Blind Faith, etc.
Pop Festival
1969 Woodinville, Washington Twenty-six musicians and groups performed at the festival, including Chuck Berry, Black Snake, Tim Buckley, The Byrds, Chicago Transit Authority, Bo Diddley, The Doors, etc. July 25–27.
Singer Bowl Music Festival 1969 the Singer Bowl Music Festival on 30 August featured Led Zeppelin.[48]
Atlantic City Pop Festival 1969 Atlantic City, New Jersey took place in 1969 on August 1, 2 and 3rd at the Atlantic City race track, two weeks before Woodstock Festival. Attended by some 100,000+ people, the festival featured the following performers: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, etc.
Woodstock Music & Art Fair 1969 White Lake, New York This historically and culturally notable festival served as a defining moment for baby boomers. Performers included Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix and Santana among many others, with genres such as acoustic music, progressive rock, and psychedelic rock. August 15–18, audience of over 400,000 young people.
Pop Festival
1969 Squamish, British Columbia Canadian rock festival held on August 22, 23 and 24, 1969, Paradise Valley Resort, Squamish. It was produced by Candi Promotions. The groups playing at the festival included The Chambers Brothers, Chicago, Alice Cooper, etc.
Texas International Pop Festival 1969 Lewisville, Texas It occurred two weeks after Woodstock. The site for the event was the newly opened Dallas International Motor Speedway. The festival was the brainchild of Angus G. Wynne III, son of Angus G. Wynne, the founder of the Six Flags Over Texas Amusement Park. Artists performing at the festival were: Canned Heat, Chicago, James Cotton, Led Zeppelin, etc. The Merry Pranksters, Ken Kesey's group, was in charge of the free stage and camping area. Attendance at the festival remains unknown, but is estimated between 120,000 and 150,000.
New Orleans Pop Festival 1969 Prairieville, Louisiana On August 30 - September 1 at the Louisiana International Speedway, the festival featured 26 bands, including seven veterans of Woodstock which was held two week prior such as Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. Peak attendance was estimated at 35,000.
Toronto Rock and Roll Revival 1969 Toronto, Ontario One day, twelve hour music festival held on September 13, 1969. With a number of popular rock & roll acts from the 1950s and 1960s, it also featured an appearance by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and The Doors.
Palm Beach Pop Festival 1969 Palm Beach, Florida November 28–30, 1969, the event featured artists such as Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones.[49] Held only one year.[16] the event met with a number of logistical difficulties, including rain and lack of supplies. The local police also heavily militarized the event, and the promoters were bankrupted.[50]
Altamont Free Concert 1969 Altamont Speedway, California Genres included Rock and folk, including blues-rock, folk rock, jazz fusion, Latin rock, and psychedelic rock styles. Actually a free Rolling Stones gig, it featured, in order of appearance: Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, etc. December 6, 1969,
Miami Rock Festival 1969 Pembroke Pines, Florida December 27–29, 1969, held at the Hollywood Speedway Park near Miami. The lineup included acts such as Motherlode, Sweetwater, and Canned Heat performed. Police searched fans, making 47 arrests, and a young audience member died after falling from a spotlight tower.[51]

1970: International spread

Name Year Location Notes Picture
Festival of Political Songs 1970-1990 East Germany Generally held in mid to late February, this festival was a major cultural event for the political music.
Hollywood Music Festival 1970 Staffordshire, England 23 and 24 May 1970, it was notable for the first performance of Grateful Dead in the UK. This was the first of the major festivals held in the summer of 1970 and part of the festival was to have been filmed by the BBC.[52][53]
The Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival 1970 Heyworth, Illinois The Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival was held on Memorial Day Weekend in May 1970 near Heyworth, Illinois. The Grim Reapers provided the festival security. Approximately 60,000 people attended the festival.[15]
World Popular Song Festival 1970-1989 Japan With a pop music focus, it was also known as Yamaha Music Festival and unofficially as the "Oriental Eurovision", was an international song contest held from 1970 until 1989.
Atlanta International Pop Festival II 1970 Byron, Georgia The second and last Atlanta Pop Festival was held July 3–5, 1970, slightly east of Byron, Georgia, 100 miles south of Atlanta, and drew a crowd of over two hundred thousand. Jimi Hendrix was the headliner.
Super Concert '70 1970 Berlin, Germany A one-day music festival on September 4, 1970. The festival was headlined by Jimi Hendrix, and was his next to last performance. He appeared on stage once more at the Open Air Love & Peace Festival in Fehmarn, Germany, on September 6, 1970.
Aachen Open Air Pop Festival 1970 Germany The "Soersfestival", as it is most commonly called, was the initiative of three local students. Some 50,000 visitors attended.
Piedra Roja 1970 Chile between 10 and 12 October 1970 in the eastern area of Santiago. Among others, the following bands performed in the festival: Aguaturbia, Los Blops, Lágrima Seca and Los Jaivas.
Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music 1970 Shepton Mallet, Somerset The festival featured a line-up of the top American west coast and British bands of the day, including Santana, The Flock, Led Zeppelin (headlining act), Pink Floyd, etc.
Phun City 1970 Worthing, Sussex Featuring UK Underground anarchist Mick Farren, the festival was notable for having no fences and no admission fees.
Kralingen Music Festival 1970 Rotterdam, the Netherlands Performing bands included The Byrds, T. Rex, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and the headlining Pink Floyd. Approximately 150.000 attended.
Strawberry Fields 1970 Bowmanville, Ontario Although accounts vary, the audience has been estimated at between 75,000 and 100,000 people. Bands such as Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper performed.
Ruisrock 1970– present Turku, Finland Second oldest rock festival in Europe and the oldest in Finland. The all-time attendance record was set in 1971, when there were about 100,000 visitors, with artists such as Canned Heat playing.
Pinkpop Festival 1970– present Landgraaf, Netherlands A large, annual pop music festival initially held at Geleen, the Netherlands. Incorporates many genres, and early on was known for focusing on progressive rock.
Powder Ridge Rock Festival 1970 Middlefield, Connecticut July 31-August 2, 1970, Middlefield, CT, the event was cancelled last minute, though thousands of concert-goers still attended the venue.
Goose Lake International Music Festival 1970 Michigan August 7–9, 1970,[54] the Goose Lake promoters wanted better planning and facilities than Woodstock.[55] The stage was built on a revolving turntable with two performance spaces. At the end of each performance, the stage would rotate 180 degrees, and the next act would begin performing almost immediately.[56] An estimated 200,000 rock music fans attended the festival. The initial attitude of the "young, hip police force"[55] to fans was to "leave them alone",[57] though there were 160 arrests of those leaving after the event, mostly on drug charges.[58]
Man-Pop Festival 1970 Winnipeg, Manitoba Held August 29, 1970, Led Zeppelin was the headlining act at the event. Other artists performing at the festival included The Youngbloods, The Ides of March, Iron Butterfly, Chilliwack, plus local bands, including Dianne Heatherington and The Merry Go Round.[59]
Glastonbury Festival 1970–'71, '78- present Pilton, Somerset In addition to contemporary music, the festival hosts dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, and other arts. It is organized by Michael Eavis on his own farm land. The first ever opening act was the English progressive rock group Stackridge.
Vortex I 1970 Oregon A week-long rock festival sponsored by the Portland counterculture community with help from the U.S. state of Oregon. The music at the festival was primarily performed by local acts.

1971-1979: Addition of punk and metal

Sample of rock festivals of historical significance, with an emphasis on multiple-day, outdoor events
Name Year Location Notes Picture
White Concert 1971 Monterrey, Mexico in February 1971 in Monterrey, a collective band called Sierra Madre and a state-of-the-art lights spectacle named "Music and light show" faced repression after a failed attempt to hold a three-day concert, called Concierto Blanco (white concert) inside the State government palace in Monterrey's main square. The violent incidents after the White concert, which were extensively covered by the media, seriously damaged then Nuevo Leon governor Eduardo Elizondo's political career.[60]
Festival Buenos Aires Rock 1971 Argentina Major hippie festival held in Argentina.[61]
Festival de Ancon 1971 Colombia Major pop festival held in Colombia, held 18 to the 20th of June
Roskilde Festival 1971– present Roskilde, Denmark Denmark's first real music-oriented festival, originally towards counter-culture music such as psychedelic rock. 2013 had more than 180 bands and around 130,000 festival goers.
Vilar de Mouros Festival 1971, 1982- Portugal Oldest rock festival in Portugal in the summer, the first lineup included Manfred Mann and Elton John, as well as the Portuguese psychedelic rock band Quarteto 1111.
Myponga Pop Festival 1971 Myponga, South Australia Over three days in the summer of 1971. The festival was headlined by heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath. Other performers included Australian acts Daddy Cool, Spectrum, Fraternity, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and Chain.[62]
Bumbershoot 1971– present Seattle, Washington One of North America's largest annual international music and arts festivals, held in Seattle, Washington every Labor Day weekend. It features a large amount of rock and experimental artists and genres, which in 1990s included the local grunge genre, and recently has included indie rock.
Ilosaarirock 1971– present Joensuu, Finland The second oldest rock festival in Finland still active, and one of the oldest in Europe. Progressive rocks bands featuring electronic features frequently perform.
Weeley Festival 1971 PLACE August 27–29, 1971, Weeley, UK
Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro 1971 Valle de Bravo, Mexico September 11–12, 1971, Valle de Bravo, Mexico
Sunbury Pop Festival 1972– '75 Australia 26 January, held at Diggers Rest, Victoria.
Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival 1972 Bull Island, Griffin, Indiana A crowd estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 attended the concert, four times what the promoters estimated. Food and water were in short supply, and the gathering descended into relative anarchy. After the show was finished, remnants of the crowd burned the main stage.[63]
Bickershaw Festival 1972 Bickershaw, England Held in Bickershaw (Wigan, Lancashire), England, between 5 and 7 May 1972.[64] Except for the 1976–79 Deeply Vale Festivals, Bickershaw was the only major north-west multi-day festival with camping.
Concert 10/Mt. Pocono Rock Festival 1972 Long Pond, Pennsylvania July 8 and 9 of 1972. The event attracted an estimated 200,000 people who were met with cold inclement weather, replete with rain and mud.
Mar Y Sol Pop Festival 1972 Manatí, Puerto Rico An estimated 30-35,000 people attended the festival. An arrest warrant was issued for promoter Alex Cooley, who avoided arrest by leaving the island before the festival was over. Performers included the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Windsor Free Festival 1972-'74 Windsor Great Park, England A British London commune dwellers, notably Ubi Dwyer and Sid Rawle. The event was brutally suppressed by the police, which led to a public outcry about the tactics involved. In 1975 both Ubi Dwyer and Sid Rawle were imprisoned, for attempting to promote a 1975 Windsor Festival.[8]
BOOM Festival 1972-'78 Yugoslavia A rock music festival, held in several cities of Yugoslavia: three editions of the festival were held in Ljubljana, one in Zagreb, one in Belgrade and two in Novi Sad. The festival featured numerous prominent acts of the former Yugoslav rock scene, and five various artists live albums were recorded on various editions of the festival.[65]
The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival 1973 New Zealand the first large outdoor music festival in New Zealand. It was held on a farm at Ngaruawahia on the Waikato River for three days from 6 to 8 January 1973.[66]
Aquarius Festival 1973 Australia A Australian Union of Students. The first NUAUS festival was held in Sydney ca 1966,[67] while the second, Melbourne, third in Canberra and last (Aquarius) was held in Nimbin, New South Wales in 1973.[68] Estimated turn-up at Nimbin was from 5,000 to 10,000 people. It is often described as Australia's equivalent to the Woodstock Festival and the birthplace for Australia's hippie movement.[69]
Day on the Green 1973- 1991 Oakland, California First held August 5, 1973, it was a recurring concert in Oakland, California presented by promoter Bill Graham and his company Bill Graham Presents. Held at the Oakland Coliseum, these events began in 1973 and continued into the early 1990s. The last Day on the Green overseen by Graham took place the same month as his death in a helicopter crash in 1991. Headliners the first year included bands such as Elvin Bishop, Merry Clayton, while the Grateful Dead appeared the second.
Summer Jam at Watkins Glen 1973 Watkins Glen, New York Once received the Guinness Book of World Records entry for "Largest audience at a pop festival." An estimated 600,000 rock fans came to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway outside of Watkins Glen, New York on July 28, 1973, to see the Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead and The Band perform.
Hurricane Festival 1973– present Scheeßel, Germany In June 1973, the first festival was held in Scheeßel, the place where today's Hurricane takes place. It was called "Es rockt in der Heide" at that time (literally translated: It's rocking in the heath) and was attended by 52,000 people.
Stonehenge Free Festival 1974-'84 Stonehenge, England Important free festival that happened during the month of June, and culminating on the summer solstice on June 21. A celebration of countercultures, with New Age Travellers and the Wallys attending. Hosted bands including Hawkwind, Gong, Doctor and the Medics, Flux of Pink Indians, Thompson Twins, etc.
Ashton Court Festival 1974– 2007 Bristol, England Held annually in mid-July, starting as a small one day festival in 1974, the festival grew during succeeding years and was said to be Britain's largest free festival until changes brought on by government legislation resulted in compulsory fees and security fencing being introduced.
Knebworth Festival 1974-? England
Village Fair 1974– present Bathurst, Australia Annual community festival that began in 1974 with increasingly expanded performances such as local indie music acts and Australian headliners. Nnew venue in 2007, and a music festival almost double in size of any previous years.
Zaire 74 1974 Kinshasa, Zaire A three-day live music festival that took place on September 22 to 24, 1974 at the 20th of May Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). The concert, conceived by South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and record producer Stewart Levine, the Zaire 74 event was intended to present and promote racial and cultural solidarity between African American and African people, with performers such as B.B. King. 80,000 people attended.
Ozark Music Festival 1974 Sedalia, Missouri Held July 19–21, 1974 on the Missouri State Fairgrounds, some estimates have put the crowd count at 350,000 people.
Rock Werchter 1974–present Werchter, Belgium Can host 88,000 guests daily
California Jam 1974 Ontario, California Co-headlined by Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, held at the Ontario Motor Speedway on April 6, 1974.[70] It attracted 250,000[71] paying fans. The festival set what were then records for the loudest amplification system ever installed, the highest paid attendance, and highest gross in history.
Watchfield Free Festival 1975 Watchfield, England On 23–31 August 1975, a former military site at Watchfield became the location of the People's Free Festival which had been held during the previous three years, despite opposition, in Windsor Great Park. The Windsor Free Festivals had been violently terminated by the police in 1974. This new site was offered as an alternative venue due to government embarrassment at previous police actions and was attended by several thousand people. Musicians who performed there included Hawkwind and Vivian Stanshall. Watchfield Free Festival was the only Free festival to be government sponsored (with assistance by then-Home Secretary Roy Jenkins), or be given official recognition.
Michigan Womyn's Music Festival 1976- '15 Michigan Called "the Original Womyn's Woodstock" [72] and often referred to as MWMF or Michfest, is an international feminist music festival held every August in a small wooded area known as "The Land." The event is completely built, staffed, run and attended by women.[73]
European Punk Rock Festival 1976 Mont de Marsan, France In August 1976, the self-described "First European Punk Rock Festival". Mont-de-Marsan on 21 August 1976, and featured French bands Bijou, Il Biaritz and Shakin’ Street, as well as The Damned.[75]
Midtfyns Festival 1976- 2003 Ringe, Denmark In the festival's heyday it was competing with Roskilde Festival to be the biggest music event in Northern Europe, mostly due to Phish's appearance at the festival in 1998.
Cropredy Convention 1976–present Cropredy, England Annual festival of folk and rock music held second week of August. Attracts up to 20,000 people each year, with ancillary events, such as morris dancing in the streets and live music at the village's two pubs.
100 Club Punk Festival 1976 Oxford Street, London A two-day event held at the 100 Club—a typically jazz-oriented venue in Oxford Street, London, England—on 20 and 21 September 1976.[76] The gig showcased eight punk rock bands, most of which were unsigned. The bands in attendance were each associated with the evolving punk rock music scene and movement of the United Kingdom. The concert marked a watershed for the movement, as punk began to move from the underground and emerge into the mainstream music scene.
Paléo Festival 1976–present Nyon, Switzerland 2005 had 3.5 million spectators
Deeply Vale Festivals 1976- '79 England The Deeply Vale Festivals were unique free festivals held near Bury in northwest England in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. They are regarded as significant events that united punk music into the festival scene.
Nambassa 1976-'81 New Zealand A series of hippie-conceived festivals held between 1976 and 1981 on large farms around Waihi and Waikino in New Zealand. They were music, arts and alternatives festivals that focused on peace, love, and an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The January 1979 three-day event attracted over 75,000 patrons making it the largest arts, multiple cultural and popular music event of its type in the world.[19]
Waikino Music Festival 1977 New Zealand
California Jam II 1978 Ontario, California March 18, 1978 and produced by Leonard Stogel, Sandy Feldman, and Don Branker.[77][78] More than 350,000 people attended. The event was promoted by Wolf and Rissmiller Concerts.
Canada Jam 1978 Canada Held on August 26, 1978. The festival was produced by Sandy Feldman and Leonard Stogel, who produced California Jam and California Jam II, and was sponsored by Carling O'Keefe. It attracted over 110,000 fans, making it the largest paying rock event in Canadian history at that time.[79]

1980s-2010s: Genre proliferation

Selected historically notable rock festivals held since the 1980s
Festival name Location Years Details
Heatwave Canada 1980 Important event for new wave and punk
Spring Rhythms. Tbilisi-80 Soviet Union 1980 First official rock festival in the Soviet Union
Elephant Fayre England 1980-'86 Lineup blended reggae/rock with major punk acts
US Festival California 1982-'83 Meant to fuse rock and technology
Live Aid Philadelphia/London 1985 13 July 1985, held in two countries
Battle of the Beanfield England 1985 Police action against free festival
Rock in Rio Brazil 1985–present 1.5 million people attended the first event
Street Scene California 1986-'09 One of the largest annual US music festivals
Rendez-vous Houston Texas 1986 Largest ticketed event in North America, 1 to 1.5 mill. attendees
Moscow Music Peace Festival Russia 1989 Important event for hair metal
Wacken Open Air Germany 1990–present Large metal showcase
Lollapalooza Chicago 1991–present Focus on alternative rock/hip hop
Big Day Out Australia 1992–2014 Multiple stages and genres
A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise Netherlands 1993–present Groundbreaking festival with great decorations and crossover media
Sziget Hungary 1993–present Large Woodstock style event
Whitby Goth Weekend England 1994–present Large goth/industrial festival
Przystanek Woodstock Poland 1995–present Ticket-free festival with crowds up to 625,000
Vans Warped Tour United States 1995–present Punk rock showcase
V Festival England 1996–present Two concurrent stages
Fuji Rock Festival Japan 1997–present In 2005, more than 100,000 people attended
Nashestvie Russia 1999- One of largest Russian rock open-air festivals
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival California 1999–present In 2014 had 579,000 attendees over six days
Woodstock 1999 New York 1999 Known as a commercial and crowd control disaster
Summer Sonic Festival Japan 2000–present Major commercial festival
Exit Festival Serbia 2000–present Exit 2006 had 22 stages
Rock in Roma Italy 2002–present Several groups perform over a month
Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival Tennessee 2002–present Initial jam band focus, now multi-genre
Download Festival England 2003–present Heavy metal and alt rock focus
Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto Canada 2003 Largest outdoor ticketed event in Canada (~half a mill.)
Soundwave Australia 2004–present Alt rock and metal/punk focus
Oxegen Ireland 2004-'13 One of largest rock/pop festivals in Ireland
Live 8 - Many 2005 Ten simultaneous benefit concerts in 8 countries
Live Earth - Worldwide 2007 Widely broadcast worldwide
Lollapalooza Chile Chile 2011–present Crowds of over 100,000 in 2011

Traveling festivals

A recent innovation is the traveling rock festival where many musical acts perform at multiple locations during a tour. Successful festivals are often held in subsequent years. The following is an incomplete list.

Current festivals

The following is a list of some notable rock festivals that take place on a regular basis. Most are held at the same location on an annual basis. Some, like Farm Aid are held at different venues with each incarnation. For a full list of festivals, see the external links at the bottom of the page.

No fixed location

North America

United States

Latin America



The Netherlands
United Kingdom

Rest of Europe


New Zealand


Middle East and Africa

See also


  1. ^ Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  2. ^ Jazz Bilzen history Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  3. ^ Santelli, Robert. ‘’Aquarius Rising – The Rock Festival Years’’. Pg. 16.
  4. ^ Browne, David. (2014-06-05). "The Birth of the Rock Fest". Rolling Stone.
  5. ^ Kubernik, Harvey and Kubernik, Kenneth. A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival. 2011. Santa Monica Press LLC. Pg. 54.
  6. ^ Mankin, Bill. We Can All Join In: How Rock Festivals Helped Change America. Like the Dew. 2012.
  7. ^ Santelli, Robert. Aquarius Rising - The Rock Festival Years. 1980. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. Pg. 259.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b Gravy, W. The Hog Farm and Friends, Links Press 1992 pp. 72-74
  15. ^ a b Luciano: A Woodstock or laughingstock? - News - Journal Star - Peoria, IL
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^
  18. ^ See George McKay (2002) 'Trad jazz in the 1950s', interviews with Montagu, George Melly, other musicians and fans attending Beaulieu.
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^ Reading Rock Festival.Reading 1978
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "Pravo građanstva za rokenrol",
  24. ^ "Koreni jugoslovenskog rocka (4) - Prateće manifestacije",
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Tamony, Peter. (Summer, 1981). Tripping out from San Francisco. American Speech. Vol. 56, No. 2. pp. 98–103. Tamony, 1981, p.98
  29. ^ retrieved 18 December 2006
  30. ^
  31. ^ - In Summerfest Guide Briefs - Total Summerfest attendance was...
  32. ^ "My Midwest" Magazine - Fun in the Sun by Jeanette Hurt; May 1st, 2007
  33. ^
  34. ^ P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock, (Rough Guides , 1999), ISBN 1858284570, p.26
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Bath Festival, June 1969 & June 1970; Mike Watt; in, Classic rock; Issue 109; August 2007; Future Publications; pp.46–47.
  39. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  40. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  41. ^ Roberts, Scott. (July 2011). "42 Years Ago This Month: The First Atlanta International Pop Festival". Atlanta Magazine.
  42. ^ a b
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Laurel Pop Festival
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^ a b
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^ See copy of poster with Man-Pop music lineup here.
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ Evansville Courier & Press 150th Anniversary Special Section, January 8, 1995.
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^ 1973 – The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival
  67. ^ Festivals - Aquarius Festival, Canberra, 1971 MilesAgo. (Retrieved 26 October 2006)
  68. ^ Festivals - Aquarius Festival, Nimbin, 1973 MilesAgo. (Retrieved 26 October 2006)
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ Edwalds, Loraine; Stoeker, Midge (eds.) The Woman-Centered Economy: Ideals, Reality, and the Space in Between, Third Side Press, 1995.
  73. ^
  74. ^ Strongman (2008), pp. 131–132; Savage (1992), p. 216. Strongman describes one of the Sex Pistols' objectionable requests as "some entourage accommodation". Savage says they were dropped from the festival following a violent altercation between Rockfort: Vive Le Punk ^
  75. ^
  76. ^ California Jam
  77. ^ Don
  78. ^
  79. ^

External links

  • Festivalguide with more than 500 international TOP Rock Festivals all over the world
  • Rock Festivals 2012 - Listing of all Rock festivals 2012
  • George McKay, ed. 2015. The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture'Introduction.' (Bloomsbury)
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