Music festival

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Music festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria, picturing both the main stage and the camping grounds on the farm behind

A music festival is a community event oriented towards live performances of singing and instrument playing that is often presented with a theme such as musical genre (e.g., blues, folk, jazz, classical music), nationality, or locality of musicians, or holiday. Some festivals are focused on women’s music.

They are commonly held outdoors, with tents or roofed temporary stages for the performers. Often music festivals host other attractions such as food and merchandise vending, dance, crafts, performance art, and social or cultural activities. At music festivals associated with charitable causes, there may be information about social or political issues. 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 charitable cause. Another type of music festival is the educative type, organized annually in local communities, regionally, or nationally, for the benefit of amateur musicians of all ages and grades of achievement.


Ancient and medieval[edit]

Leigo Järvemuusika 2007

The Pythian Games at Delphi included musical performances, and may be one of the earliest festivals known.[1] During the Middle Ages, festivals were often held as competitions.


Music education[edit]

Another type of music festival is the music education type, often organized annually in local communities, regionally, or nationally, for the benefit of amateur musicians of all ages and grades of achievement. Entrants perform prepared pieces or songs in front of an audience which includes competitors, family and friends, and members of the community, along with one or more adjudicators or judges. These adjudicators, who may be music teachers, professors, or professional performers, provide verbal and written feedback to each performer or group. The adjudicator may be someone whom they might never meet in any other way, as is the case when an adjudicator from another city is brought in to judge. They also usually receive a certificate, classified according to merit or ranking, and some may win trophies or even scholarships. 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 from lessons and examinations to performing confidently in public; for a few of the top performers, they provide a pathway to further professional study of music in a college, university or conservatory.

Festivals around the world[edit]

Youth attend Przystanek Woodstock festival of rock music, Poland, 2011

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 has been 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.[2][3] The Woodstock Festival in 1969 drew nearly 500,000 attendees, and the Polish spin-off Przystanek Woodstock in 2014 drew 750,000[4] thus becoming the largest open air annual festival in Europe and the second largest in the world. In comparison, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, attracts about 135,000 spectators each year.[5] Glastonbury Festival has a capacity of about 275,000 spectators, but has "fallow years" roughly every five years, so it is 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,[6] though in other genres, there are much older ones: the Three Choirs Festival in the UK has run annually[citation needed] since 1719. The Queensland Music Festival, established in 1999 and headquartered in Brisbane Australia, is the largest music festival by land mass, as a state-wide music biennial music festival, over a three week period during July.

Historic music festivals[edit]

Selected historically notable festivals
Festival name Location Years Details
Fiera della Frecagnola Italy Italy 1450–present Based on old folk tradition
Annaberger Kät Germany Germany 1520–present Old folk festival
Three Choirs Festival United Kingdom England 1719–present Early choral festival
Norfolk & Norwich Festival United Kingdom England 1772–present The flagship arts festival for the East of England
Tyagaraja Aradhana India India 1846–present Early Carnatic music festival
Leeds Festival United Kingdom England 1858–1985 Early classical festival
Estonian Song Festival Estonia Estonia 1869–present One of the largest amateur choral events in the world - Takes place normally every 5 years with 30,000 performers
Latvian Song and Dance Festival Latvia Latvia 1873–present Early folk music festival - Takes place normally every 5 years with 30,000 performers
Þjóðhátíð Iceland Iceland 1874–present Early folk music festival
Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan India India 1875–present Early Indian classical music festival
International Polkafest United States Minnesota 1978–present[7] Longest running polka festival in US, began in Pine City, Minnesota
Long Plain First Nation Annual Pow-wow Canada Canada 1876–present Government-sanctioned pow wow
Nordic Music Days (many) Europe 1888–present Festival for new Nordic music
Royal National Mòd United Kingdom Scotland 1892–present National Celtic mod
Ravinia Festival United States Illinois 1904–present Oldest outdoor classical festival in US
Glastonbury United Kingdom England 1914–25 Early classical festival
Donaueschingen Festival Germany Germany 1921–present Early experimental festival
Newport Jazz Festival United States Rhode Island 1954–60, 1962–present Early jazz festival, later added rock and other styles
Reading and Leeds Festivals United Kingdom England 1961–present Early rock/blues festival
Philadelphia Folk Festival United States Pennsylvania 1962–present Early folk festival, later added other styles
American Folk Blues Festival (many) Europe 1962–1985 Introduced US blues circuit to Europe
Jazz Bilzen Belgium Belgium 1965-1981 First festival in Europe combining jazz and pop
Shiraz Arts Festival Iran Iran 1967–1977 Diverse international genres
Woodstock United States New York 1969 Culturally notable event
Ichthus Music Festival United States Kentucky 1970–present Early Christian music festival
Roskilde festival Denmark Denmark 1971–Present Largest music festival in Northern Europe, non-profit
Smile Jamaica Concert Jamaica Jamaica 1974 Early reggae festival
International Computer Music Conference (many) Worldwide 1974 Early electronic music festival
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
Antilliaanse Feesten Belgium Belgium 1983–present Largest Caribbean Dance Music Festival
Donauinselfest Austria Vienna 1984–present Largest music festival in the world, free entry (~3 mill)
Rock in Rio Brazil Brazil 1985–present 1.5 million people attended the first event
Rendez-vous Houston United States Texas 1986 Largest ticketed event in North America (1 to 1.5 mill)
Moscow Music Peace Festival Russia Russia 1989 Important event for glam metal
Love Parade Germany Germany 1989-2010 Massive early technoparade
Wacken Open Air Germany Germany 1990–present Large metal showcase
Big Day Out Australia Australia 1992–2014 Multiple stages and genres
Sziget Hungary Hungary 1993–present Large Woodstock style event
CzechTek Czech Republic Czech Republic 1994-2006 Large teknival closed by police
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
Fuji Rock Festival Japan Japan 1997–present In 2005, more than 100,000 people attended
Nashestvie Russia Russia 1999- One of the 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
Exit Festival Serbia Serbia 2000–present Exit 2006 had 22 stages
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival United States Tennessee 2002–present Annual attendance of 85,000-120,000
Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto Canada Canada 2003 Largest outdoor ticketed event in Canada (~half a mill.)
Live 8 (many) Many 2005 Ten simultaneous benefit concerts in eight countries
Positivus Festival Latvia Latvia 2007-Present Largest and most popular of music festivals in the three Baltic States
Live Earth (many) Worldwide 2007 Widely broadcast worldwide
Sunburn Festival India India 2007-Present Largest music festival in Asia
Milege World Music Festival Uganda Uganda 2010–Present Biggest music festival in Africa
Colour Day Festival Greece Greece 2015–Present Biggest music festival in Greece
Faine Misto Festival Ukraine Ukraine 2013–Present Music festival in Ukraine
Atlas Weekend Ukraine Ukraine 2015–Present Biggest music festival in Ukraine[8]
Electric Forest United States Rothbury 2011-present Most important music festival in America

Current music festivals[edit]

The following are selected music festivals that are recurring as of 2015. Some sections may also have links to related lists of music festivals by country.

Africa · Asia · Europe · North America · Oceania · South America



Felabration, Afrikan Shrine

South Africa


Bangladesh · China · Hong Kong · India · Indonesia · Israel · Japan · Lebanon · Malaysia · Nepal · Philippines · Singapore · Sri Lanka · South Korea · Taiwan · United Arab Emirates · Vietnam


Hong Kong[edit]










South Korea[edit]

Sri Lanka[edit]



United Arab Emirates[edit]



Austria · Belgium · Bulgaria · Croatia · Czech Republic · Denmark · Estonia · Finland · France · Germany · Greece · Hungary · Iceland · Ireland · Italy · United Kingdom · England ·



Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]



Czech Republic[edit]




















Puerto Rico[edit]











United Kingdom United Kingdom[edit]

Northern Ireland[edit]


Australia Australia[edit]

New Zealand New Zealand[edit]

South America[edit]

Argentina Argentina[edit]

Bolivia Bolivia[edit]

Brazil Brazil[edit]

Chile Chile[edit]

Colombia Colombia[edit]

Ecuador Ecuador[edit]

Paraguay Paraguay[edit]


  1. ^ Pythian Games, Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. ^ Rytlewski, Evan (11 July 2013). "Summerfest Attendance Was Up This Year, Which You Probably Guessed". Express Milwaukee.
  3. ^ "Fun in the Sun". My Midwest Magazine. 1 May 2007.
  4. ^ (pik). "Woodstock 2014: Manu Chao rozbujał, a Bukartyk pożegnał". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-07.
  6. ^ Gammon, John (17 June 2011). "Six In A Row For Pinkpop". London, U.K.: Pollstar. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Toma Istomina (2018-06-08). "Enjoy summer, best music at top 7 festivals in Ukraine". KyivPost. Archived from the original on 2018-07-17. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  9. ^ "Antilliaanse Feesten / Hoogstraten / Belgium". Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  10. ^ "Laundry Day Homepage". Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  11. ^ "Best Medium-Sized Festival in 2012".
  12. ^ "Best Major Festival in 2011". Archived from the original on 2012-04-25.
  13. ^ "Best Major Festival in 2014". Archived from the original on 2015-07-01. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  14. ^ "Forside – Bergenfest". Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  15. ^ "Norwegian Wood". Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  16. ^ a b The Guardian. "The best European festival listings of 2013 | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-04-10.