The festival is held annually since 2003, usually over several days in June, in Kaluga Oblast or Smolensk Oblast. It is a non-profit event with no admission fee or sponsorship. The efforts of volunteers are responsible for the production of the event. The number of visitors grew from 300 in 2003 to about 45000 in 2008.
Unlike most music festivals, Empty Hills has no specific musical format or style. Among genres represented on the festival, there are folk music, blues, rock music, reggae, sometimes electronic music, jazz or avant-garde. All participants undergo rigorous selection by a special committee; the choice is made in favor of the most musically prominent bands, regardless their commercial success or popularity. Thus, in the final program of the festival about half of the participants are known to only a few people, and for many their appearance at the "Hills" is their first step to recognition.
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