A music festival is a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality or locality of musicians, or holiday. They are commonly held outdoors, and are often inclusive of other attractions such as food and merchandise vending, performance art, and social activities. The Pythian Games at Delphi included musical performances, and may be one of the earliest festivals known. During the Middle Ages festivals were often held as competitions.
Many festivals are annual, or repeat at some other interval. Some, including many rock festivals, are held only once. Some festivals are organized as for-profit concerts and others are benefits for a specific cause.
Another type of music festival is the educative type, organised annually in local communities, regionally or nationally, for the benefit of amateur musicians of all ages and grades of achievement. While entrants perform prepared pieces in the presence of an audience which includes competitors, the essential feature of this type of festival is that each participant receives verbal and written feedback, there and then, from a highly qualified, professional adjudicator—someone whom they might never meet in any other way. They also usually receive a certificate, classified according to merit, and some may win trophies. The competitive element is often played down, however, as the important aspect is that participants can learn from one another. Such festivals aim to provide a friendly and supportive platform for musicians to share in the excitement of making music. For many they provide a bridge between lessons & examinations and performing confidently in public.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin's 11-day event, Summerfest, promotes itself as "The World's Largest Music Festival", a title certified by the Guinness World Records and held since 1999. Operating annually since 1968, the festival attracts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people each year, and hosts over 800 musical acts. The Woodstock Festival in 1969 drew nearly 500,000 attendees, and the Polish spin-off Przystanek Woodstock drew 700,000 in 2011. The largest annual greenfield music festival in the world is Roskilde Festival in Denmark which attracts approximately 135,000 spectators each year Glastonbury Festival has a capacity of about 175,000 spectators, but has "fallow years" roughly every 5 years, thereby making it the biggest non-annual greenfield festival in the world. The oldest annual dedicated pop Music Festival in the world is Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands, though in other genres, there are much older ones — the Three Choirs Festival in the UK has run annually since 1719.
Lists of music festivals
Lists of music festivals in:
- Central America
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Lists of music festivals by genre:
Notes and references
- 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica[dead link]
- Rytlewski, Evan (11 July 2013). "Summerfest Attendance Was Up This Year, Which You Probably Guessed". Express Milwaukee.
- "Fun in the Sun". My Midwest Magazine. 1 May 2007.
- Gammon, John (17 June 2011). "Six In A Row For Pinkpop". London, U.K.: Pollstar. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
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