Rock festival

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Rock festival
Woodstock redmond stage.JPG
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.


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 Chet Helms, Tom Rounds, Alex Cooley and Michael Lang helped create the blueprint for large-scale rock festivals in the United States, as well promoters such as Wally Hope in the United Kingdom. In various countries, the organizers of rock festivals have faced legal action from authorities, in part because such festivals have attracted large counterculture elements. In 1972, Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Manatí, Puerto Rico attracted an estimated 30-35,000 people, and an arrest warrant was issued for promoter Alex Cooley, who avoided arrest by leaving the island before the festival was over.[citation needed] British Free Festival organisersUbi 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 Rock festivals
List of pop festivals Category Pop music festivals Commons page Pop festivals
List of free festivals Category Free festivals Commons page Free festivals
List of jam band music festivals Category Jam band festivals Commons page Jam band festivals
List of heavy metal festivals Category Heavy metal festivals Commons page Metal music events
List of punk rock festivals Category Punk rock festivals Commons page Punk rock festivals
List of industrial music festivals Category Industrial music festivals Commons page Industrial music festivals
List of gothic festivals Category Goth festivals Commons page Gothic festivals
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 United States 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 United States 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 United Kingdom 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 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. 1969 National Jazz & Blues Festival01.JPG
Reading and Leeds Festivals 1961– present United Kingdom 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] Reading Festival 1975 (6).jpg
Jazz Bilzen 1965- '81 Belgium 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. Jazz Bilzen 1967-jpg.png
Gitarijada (Belgrade) 1966– '67 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 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 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1966– 1991)Serbia (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 United States 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.[citation needed] The Trips Festival was followed by the October 6, 1966 Love Pageant Rally, held in San Francisco to protest the banning of LSD. 110px
Mantra-Rock Dance 1967 United States California Occurring several weeks after the Human Be-In event on January 14, 1967, the January 29 Mantra-Rock Dance was a precursor event to the large outdoor festivals that debuted in the summer of 1967. The dance was held in San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom, featured three bands including Grateful Dead, and was organized by followers of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness to introduce its founder to a wider American audience. 1967 Mantra-Rock Dance Avalon poster.jpg
Fantasy Fair and
Magic Mountain
Music Festival
1967 United States 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. KFRC Fantasy Fair Dryden Balin Kantner.png
Monterey Pop Festival 1967 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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. Summerfest Pabst Showcase 1994.jpg
Newport Pop Festival 1968-'69 United States 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 United Kingdom 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. 1970-Isle of Wight Festival- 5.JPG
Sky River Rock Festival 1968-'70 United States 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 Germany Essen, Germany September 1968. Krautrock arose at this first major, weeklong, indoors German rock festival.[34]
Hyde Park Free Concerts 1968–'76 United Kingdom Hyde Park, London UK—single-day events
San Francisco Pop Festival 1968 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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. Performers included Chuck Berry, Joe Tex, Marvin Gaye, Flatt and Scruggs, The Turtles, Procol Harum, The Amboy Dukes, Steppenwolf, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Palm Springs Pop Festival 1969 United States 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 United States 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 United States San Jose, California May 23–25, the festival featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, etc.
Aquarian Family Festival 1969 United States 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 United States 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 United States Northridge, Los Angeles June 20–22, 1969
Toronto Pop Festival 1969 Canada Toronto June 21–22, 1969
Bath Festival of Blues 1969 United Kingdom 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 United States 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 United States 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 United States Saugatuck Second Annual (July 4–5, 1969)
Atlanta International Pop Festival I 1969 United States Hampton The first Atlanta festival was held July 4–5, 1969, at the Atlanta International Raceway in Hampton, Georgia, twenty miles south of Atlanta, and drew a crowd of around 100,000.[41] Performers included Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Canned Heat, and Chicago Transit Authority.
The Stones in the Park 1969 United Kingdom 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 United States 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 United States Had Led Zeppelin at the Summer Pop Festival on 12 July,[47]
Midwest Rock Festival 1969 United States 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 United States 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 United States the Singer Bowl Music Festival on 30 August featured Led Zeppelin.[48]
Atlantic City Pop Festival 1969 United States 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 United States 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. Woodstock redmond stage.JPG
Pop Festival
1969 Canada 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 United States 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 United States 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.[citation needed]
Toronto Rock and Roll Revival 1969 Canada 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 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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]

Goose Lake Music Festival 1970 near Jackson Michigan over 100000 attented multi day festival

1970: International spread

Name Year Location Notes Picture
Festival of Political Songs 1970-1990 Germany East Germany Generally held in mid to late February, this festival was a major cultural event for the Free German Youth organization, featuring select political music. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1988-0216-033, Berlin, Festival des politischen Liedes.jpg
Hollywood Music Festival 1970 United Kingdom 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 United States 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 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. Nippon Budokan 2010.jpg
Atlanta International Pop Festival II 1970 United States 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 Germany 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 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 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 United Kingdom 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. Bath Festival 1970 stage.jpeg
Phun City 1970 United Kingdom Worthing, Sussex Featuring alternative rock and rock, it was organised by the UK Underground anarchist Mick Farren, the festival was notable for having no fences and no admission fees.
Kralingen Music Festival 1970 Netherlands 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 Canada 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 Finland 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. Apocalyptica on stage of Ruisrock.jpg
Pinkpop Festival 1970– present Netherlands 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. Pinpop 2010.jpeg
Powder Ridge Rock Festival 1970 United States Middlefield, Connecticut July 31-August 2, 1970, Middlefield, CT, the event was cancelled last minute, though thousands of concert-goers still attended the venue. Powder Ridge Festival-tent.jpg
Goose Lake International Music Festival 1970 United States 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 Canada 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 United Kingdom 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. Early Sunday afternoon crowd at the Pyramid (323784473).jpg
Vortex I 1970 United States 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. Milo McIver SP Clackamas.jpg
Sky River III 1970 United States Washougal, Washington One of the longest-duration festivals, lasting 10 days from August 28th until September 8th, with daily attendance in excess of 10,000 on some days. Over 40 bands were featured on the event posters.[60]

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 Mexico 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.[61]
Festival Buenos Aires Rock 1971 Argentina Argentina Major hippie festival held in Argentina.[62]
Festival de Ancon 1971 Colombia Colombia Major pop festival held in Colombia, held 18 to the 20th of June
Roskilde Festival 1971– present Denmark 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. Roskilde Festival - Orange Stage - Bruce Springsteen.jpg
Vilar de Mouros Festival 1971, 1982- Portugal 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. Vilar de mouros rio.JPG
Myponga Pop Festival 1971 Australia 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.[63]
Bumbershoot 1971– present United States 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. Audience at Bumbershoot, 1973.jpg
Ilosaarirock 1971– present Finland 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. Ilosaarirock Festival 2007.jpg
Weeley Festival 1971 United Kingdom PLACE August 27–29, 1971, Weeley, UK
Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro 1971 Mexico Valle de Bravo, Mexico September 11–12, 1971, Valle de Bravo, Mexico
Sunbury Pop Festival 1972– '75 Australia Australia 26 January, held at Diggers Rest, Victoria.
Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival 1972 United States 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.[64] Bull island ticket.JPG
Bickershaw Festival 1972 United Kingdom Bickershaw, England Held in Bickershaw (Wigan, Lancashire), England, between 5 and 7 May 1972.[65] 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 United States 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 Puerto Rico 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. Opening band at Mar Y Sol - Rubber Band.jpg
Windsor Free Festival 1972-'74 United Kingdom Windsor Great Park, England A British Free Festival organised by some 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 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 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.[66]
The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival 1973 New Zealand 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.[67]
Aquarius Festival 1973 Australia Australia A counter-cultural arts and music festival organised by the Australian Union of Students. The first NUAUS festival was held in Sydney ca 1966,[68] while the second, Melbourne, third in Canberra and last (Aquarius) was held in Nimbin, New South Wales in 1973.[69] 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.[70]
Day on the Green 1973- 1991 United States 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 United States 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 Germany 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. BuehneHurricane.jpg
Stonehenge Free Festival 1974-'84 United Kingdom 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. Stonehenge84.jpg
Ashton Court Festival 1974– 2007 United Kingdom 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-? United Kingdom England
Village Fair 1974– present Australia 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.[citation needed] Village Fair 04.jpg
Zaire 74 1974 Democratic Republic of the Congo 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 United States Sedalia, Missouri Held July 19–21, 1974 on the Missouri State Fairgrounds, some estimates have put the crowd count at 350,000 people. Ozark Music Festival Stage Left.jpg
Rock Werchter 1974–present Belgium Werchter, Belgium Can host 88,000 guests daily Plaine de Werchter.jpg
California Jam 1974 United States Ontario, California Co-headlined by Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, held at the Ontario Motor Speedway on April 6, 1974.[71] It attracted 250,000[72] 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. Jam I ad.jpg
Watchfield Free Festival 1975 United Kingdom 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 United States Michigan Called "the Original Womyn's Woodstock" [73] 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.[74]
European Punk Rock Festival 1976 France Mont de Marsan, France In August 1976, the self-described "First European Punk Rock Festival". Eddie and the Hot Rods, a London pub rock group, headlined. The Sex Pistols, originally scheduled to play, were dropped by the organizers who said the band had gone "too far" in demanding top billing and certain amenities; The Clash backed out in solidarity.[75] Organised by Zermati, took place at Mont-de-Marsan on 21 August 1976, and featured French bands Bijou, Il Biaritz and Shakin’ Street, as well as The Damned.[76]
Midtfyns Festival 1976- 2003 Denmark 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 United Kingdom 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. Fairport 40th.jpg
100 Club Punk Festival 1976 United Kingdom 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.[77] 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 Switzerland Nyon, Switzerland 2005 had 3.5 million spectators
Deeply Vale Festivals 1976- '79 United Kingdom 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 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] Nambassa 1979 Main Stage, Negative Theatre.jpg
Waikino Music Festival 1977 New Zealand New Zealand
California Jam II 1978 United States Ontario, California March 18, 1978 and produced by Leonard Stogel, Sandy Feldman, and Don Branker.[78][79] More than 350,000 people attended. The event was promoted by Wolf and Rissmiller Concerts.
Texxas Jam 1978-1988 United States Dallas, Texas Houston, Texas Annual summer arena rock concert called the Texxas World Music Festival (1978–1988). It was held in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl, and in Houston, at either the Astrodome or the Rice Stadium on the campus of Rice University. Inspired by California Jam II, Texxas Jam was created by Louis Messina and David Krebs. Over 100,000 attended the first Texxas Jam on July 1, 1978, the hottest day of the decade (the temperature reached 104 degrees). It was the first southern stadium rock show since ZZ Top played to 80,000 people at UT Austin on September 1, 1974 and tore up the field.
Canada Jam 1978 Canada 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.[80]

1980s-2010s: Genre proliferation

Selected historically notable rock festivals held since the 1980s
Festival name Location Years Details
Heatwave Canada Canada 1980 Important event for new wave and punk
Spring Rhythms. Tbilisi-80 Soviet Union Soviet Union 1980 First official rock festival in the Soviet Union
Elephant Fayre United Kingdom England 1980-'86 Lineup blended reggae/rock with major punk acts
US Festival United States California 1982-'83 Meant to fuse rock and technology
Live Aid United States Philadelphia/London 1985 13 July 1985, held in two countries
Battle of the Beanfield United Kingdom England 1985 Police action against free festival
Rock in Rio Brazil Brazil 1985–present 1.5 million people attended the first event
Street Scene United States California 1986-'09 One of the largest annual US music festivals
Rendez-vous Houston United States Texas 1986 Largest ticketed event in North America, 1 to 1.5 mill. attendees
Moscow Music Peace Festival Russia Russia 1989 Important event for hair metal
Wacken Open Air Germany Germany 1990–present Large metal showcase
Lollapalooza United States Chicago 1991–present Focus on alternative rock/hip hop
Big Day Out Australia Australia 1992–2014 Multiple stages and genres
A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise Netherlands Netherlands 1993–present Groundbreaking festival with great decorations and crossover media
Sziget Hungary Hungary 1993–present Large Woodstock style event
Whitby Goth Weekend United Kingdom England 1994–present Large goth/industrial festival
Przystanek Woodstock Poland Poland 1995–present Ticket-free festival with crowds up to 625,000
Vans Warped Tour United States United States 1995–present Punk rock showcase
V Festival United Kingdom England 1996–present Two concurrent stages
Fuji Rock Festival Japan Japan 1997–present In 2005, more than 100,000 people attended
Nashestvie Russia Russia 1999- One of largest Russian rock open-air festivals
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival United States California 1999–present In 2014 had 579,000 attendees over six days
Woodstock 1999 United States New York 1999 Known as a commercial and crowd control disaster
Summer Sonic Festival Japan Japan 2000–present Major commercial festival
Exit Festival Serbia Serbia 2000–present Exit 2006 had 22 stages
Rock in Roma Italy Italy 2002–present Several groups perform over a month
Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival United States Tennessee 2002–present Initial jam band focus, now multi-genre
Download Festival United Kingdom England 2003–present Heavy metal and alt rock focus
Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto Canada Canada 2003 Largest outdoor ticketed event in Canada (~half a mill.)
Soundwave Australia Australia 2004–2015 Alt rock and metal/punk focus
Oxegen Republic of Ireland 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

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


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  2. Jazz Bilzen history Retrieved January 14, 2014.
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  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.
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External links