Originally held to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Dynamo rock club in Eindhoven, it grew from 5,000 people in the Dynamo parking lot to over 110,000 attendees in 1995. This caused too much pressure on the Dutch infrastructure and the festival had to shrink to a maximum of 60,000 visitors for 1996. From there it went downhill, mostly because the festival could not find a permanent venue. In 1999 Dynamo Open Air was held on a former rubbish dump near Eindhoven, and the following year it went to the Goffertpark in Nijmegen. That was the first time DOA was held outside the province of Noord-Brabant, and it was the first time in years that the festival had to shrink down to only one day. The previous years it had always been a two- or three-day festival.
In 2001, the organisation thought they had found a site where the festival could return on a yearly basis, near the town of Lichtenvoorde. However, the threat of foot-and-mouth disease caused trouble, and Dynamo Open Air had to be cancelled. In 2002 it returned, at the site of the Bospop festival, but 2003 was another year without a Dynamo festival, because it would violate a recently passed law about animal protection during breeding season. For 2004, the festival returned to Nijmegen, at the same location where it took place in 2000. In 2005, the festival used the site of the Dauwpop festival, and the re-formed Anthrax dominated the stage.
In an attempt to blow new life into the festival, the current organization of the Dynamo youth center decided to change the festival's name from Dynamo Open Air to Dynamo Outdoor. In 2008, the first Dynamo Outdoor festival was held in the centre of Eindhoven, with bands such as Mad Sin, Anathema and Born From Pain performing. The following year, in August 2009, Dynamo Outdoor was again held in Eindhoven. Bands like Destine, Stahlzeit, Asphyx, Textures, The butcher and Municipal Waste attended the festival.
The revival of the festival occurred with a new name as Dynamo Metal Fest since 2015.
In 1995, Nailbomb had their performance recorded at the festival and it was released as Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide the same year it was recorded. It was released by Roadrunner Records In 2005, live footage of the performance was released on DVD and it was called Live at Dynamo. It was also released by Roadrunner Records. In May 1998, guest band Death recorded stock footage of their performance. Three years later, in an effort to raise money to pay for Chuck Schuldiner's cancer treatment, the footage was limitedly released in October 2001 by Nuclear Blast on CD and DVD formats under the name Live In Eindhoven, two months before Schuldiner's ultimate demise.