Top 10: World’s Biggest General Music Festivals

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It’s almost that time of year again… Festival season is almost among us. It’s a time where music, dancing, road trips, boho fashion, the first signs of Spring collide, making us feeling FREE!

The biggest ones are in Europe, where many music fans go on an annual pilgrimage to their preferred festival.

We’ve assembled the 10 biggest by attendance.

10. Pukkelpop (BE)

Attendance: 62,500 per day

Some 200 acts play on one of the 8 Pukkelpop stages in Kiewit, near the city of Hasselt in Belgium each year.

Today Pukkelpop has become one of the biggest alternative open-air festivals in Belgium. Pukkelpop prides itself on its progressive music programme, with its idiosyncratic blend of unforgettable top acts and surprising new talent. Year after year Pukkelpop’s international audience go to Kiewit Hasselt to listen to a combination of successful contemporary bands, living legends and the most visionary alternative acts from all nooks and crannies of the musical landscape.

In 2011 Five people have been killed and more than 70 injured at a music festival after a stage collapsed during a heavy storm.

The Chateau stage at the Pukkelpop festival, near the town of Hasselt in eastern Belgium, was apparently destroyed when trees were blown over in strong winds and crashed into rigging.

9. Sziget (HU)

Attendance: 65,000 per day

This six-day music festival in Budapest, Hungary, started in 1993.

Sziget is known for its diverse musical world and 2014 will also be dedicated to this open-minded tradition.

To the already announced names, organizers added many exciting new performers, who will definitely keep the audience moving both in front of the stages and also wandering from one venue to the other.

The festival has its very own “party train” to transport attendees from Amsterdam to Budapest, including DJs and champagne.

8. Reading/Leeds (UK)

Attendance: 75,000 per day

Concerts are held simultaneously in Reading and Leeds, England, with both festivals sharing the same bill. Over the three days of the festival – which started in Reading in the 1960s and has taken over a number of parks in Leeds since it expanded up north, 15 years ago. The Reading Festival, the original leg of the two, has been going since 1961 when it was a jazz event. Nirvana performed at the festival in 1992.

Attendance at Reading was 87,000 on each of the three days, while Leeds saw 75,000 festival-goers on each of the three days.

7. Coachella (USA)

This festival which takes place in California saw 225,000 attendees over 3 days in 2010.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival annual music and arts festival organized by Goldenvoice held at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California. The event features many genres of music including alternative rock, hip hop, and Electronic music as well as large sculptural art. The event has several stages and tents set-up throughout the grounds, each playing live music continuously.

6. Exit (RS)

Attendance: 75,000 per day

Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city hosts this annual festival at its Petrovaradin fortress. The fortress was built between 1692 and 1790.

What began as a student-initiated project to rally against Serbia’s Milosevic regime in 2000 has since become a blossoming behemoth of a music event and one of the continent’s most formidable festivals. Attracting some 200,000 music lovers from over 60 countries each year, the festival boasts 22 stages of music, a wide selection of eateries and bars, and walkabout entertainment too.

Add in the hot Serbian summers and Exit offers a wonderful opportunity to be part of a European institution and a chance to take in a superb cultural and social gathering.

5. Rock al Parque (CO)

Attendance: 88,600 per day

Rock al Parque, South America’s largest rock music festival attracted crowds of 266,000 over three days in 2010. The festival held in Bogota, Colombia and is the largest rock festival in South America. And guess what, it’s free!

The festival celebrates rock music from all over Latin America and is renowned for hosting local rock bands and promoting Colombian rock music.

4. Werchter (BE)

Attendance: 110,000 per day

Set up in 1975 on the grounds of a local youth movement in Werchter, Belgium, attendance was more than 100,000 by 1984 when the festival was a double act, twinned with the town of Torhout.
From 2000, the festival returned to just one location, Werchter, attracting 80,000 people. Werchter offers a mix of the latest “it”-bands, classics and sweaty dj-sets.
Because of this well-balanced line-up and because of the vibe that surrounds this four-day festival, it attracts people from all over the world.
Yet, it is often a miracle that under a watery Belgian sky so many festivals can attract so many visitors. Even the performing artists are excited to come and play, as the Belgian crowd seems to be known to be one of the more enthusiastic ones.

3. Roskilde (DK)

Attendance: 110,000 per day

Now a four-day festival preceded by a four-day “warm-up”, attendance at Roskilde swelled from around 25,000 when it first started in 1971 to 71,000 all-week tickets and 4,000 one-day tickets in 2010.

Bob Marley played at Roskilde Festival in 1978, U2 in 1982, Metallica in 1986 and Radiohead in 1997. When you buy a ticket to Roskilde Festival, you’re supporting good causes at the same time. Every year it donates all profits in full to humanitarian and cultural purposes.

2. Glastonbury (UK)

Attendance: 175,000 per day

The festival began the day after Jimi Hendrix died in 1970.

Attendance was 1,500 and entry was £1 including free milk from the farm. It was founded on a mix of whim, idealism and naivety.
With its precarious finances it should have failed in its early years, and indeed it nearly did.
When it came back to life in the late 70s, the enduring tenacity of a farmer with a ‘get things done’ mentality prevailed.
Heavy downpours have become synonymous with the festival, at which model Kate Moss has been photographed in hotpants and Wellington boots.

1. Rock in Rio

Attendance: 175,000 per day

Rock in Rio is an event original from Brazil. It is a series of music festivals held in three cities until 2012:

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Lisbon in Portugal and Madrid in Spain.

In 2013, the fourth edition took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 2014 Mexico City, Mexico will be the fifth.

Rock in Rio has been the largest music festival in the world, with 1.5 million people in the first edition, 700,000 in both the second and fourth editions, about 1.2 million in the third, and about 350,000 people in each of the 3 Lisbon editions.

Much more than a musical event, it became complete and comprehensive in addressing issues such as sustainability and environmental responsibility. It also undertook the commitment to make people aware that, with small actions in everyday life, they can make the world a better place.

Music Festivals are one of the biggest proves that Humanity can get along in peace, connected through music and dance.

Make music, not war 🙂