Music festivals—where you close your eyes, feel the sound and be in euphoria. The fantastic thing is, there are thousands of people feeling the same thing as you. Well, we have for you the biggest music festivals in the world.
Music festivals are where you get connected and to people disregard gender, age, and race. What makes a music festival the best? Everyone has their perception. For me, it is the vibe the festival gives me.
The vibes from the music, the festival-goers, the psychedelic videos playing on the LED screens. It is also the experience that I will be taking with me.
So behold festival lovers, I have made a list of the 20 best music festivals in the world. The plan has genres like pop, rock, fusion, Electronic Dance Music (EDM), and hip-hop.
Because of music, it does not differentiate.
Are you an avid fan of the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre? Do you feel your heart racing every time you wait for the DJ to drop the beat? Do your feet jump off the ground every time the bass goes off?
If yes is your answer, then you need to attend Tomorrowland. It is the world’s biggest EDM festival.
Tomorrowland is a Belgian electronic dance music festival. It takes place annually at Provinciaal Recreatiedomein De Schorre, Boom, Belgium.
People know this festival for its fairytale-like set up with different themes every year.
What gets the festival fans more excited is the stage design. Yes, along with the theme, the staging concept escalates every year. The stage design leaves the attendees in more anticipation.
With its slogan, “Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever,” Tomorrowland brings world-famous DJs together.
This Belgian EDM festival not only lets you witness your favorite DJs but also helps you meet people from different cultures. It is genuine unity through music.
Along with the best music systems, this festival has 15 stages. Each stage has its mind-blowing designs. And the event closes every night with breath-taking fireworks.
The after-movie is also something that excites every festival attendee. The movie shows the festival’s flashbacks with amazing slow-mo and aerial shots. It keeps the memories fresh forever.
Tomorrowland started on August 14, 2005, as a one-day event by two brothers, Manu and Michiel Beers. The first artists to headline this festival were Push (MIKE), Armin van Buuren, Cor Fijneman, Erwin Tang Yew, and Yoji Biomehanika.
In 2007, the organizers hosted the festival for two days. From 2014, they hosted Tomorrowland for two weekends.
When the festival began in 2005, it had acquired only 9,000 attendees. Flash forward now, Tomorrowland has 400,000 attendees coming from all over the world.
2. Download festival
Download festival is an annual British-born music festival held at Donnington Park, England.
Download festival focuses on the rock genre and has brought many big rock industry names to the event. It is every rock and metal fan’s dream place to go.
Bands like Metallica, Hoobastank, Linkin Park, and Black Sabbath are the few names that have headlined the festival.
Download Festival was first held in Donnington Park in 2003 as a single-day event. The headliners were Iron Maiden and Audioslave.
It extended as a three-day event in 2005. Slowly, the festival branched out to three other countries: France, Spain, and Australia.
3. Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury festival, aks the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, is a significant event in the UK. It hosts contemporary music, dance, comedy, cabaret, and other forms of arts.
The festival also supports many non-profit organizations from its ticket sales. It is an event with a cause which takes place at Pilton, Somerset, England.
The Isle of Wight festival heavily influenced the Glastonbury festival. People called this festival the ‘Pilton Festival’ at the very beginning.
In 1971, David Trippas introduced the ‘Glastonbury Fair’ to the organizer, Michael Eaves. What made the festival unique was the spectacular ‘Pyramid Stage.’ Tickets were free of charge then.
That year, the performers’ lineup was David Bowie, Skin Alley, and Fairport Convention. Melanie, The Worth Farm, Windfuckers, Gong, Hawkwind, and Mighty Baby also performed.
From then on, Glastonbury has become an annual music festival. And it has been growing more significant over the years. It features prominent musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, The Killers, Kanye West, etc.
Lollapalooza is an annual four-day music festival held at Grant Park, Chicago. The festival includes alternative rock, metal, punk rock, hip-hop, pop, and electronic music.
Lollapalooza has its international branches in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Sweden, and France.
Jane’s Addiction band’s singer, Perry Ferell, had curated Lollapalooza. The band hosted it as a farewell tour in 1991. The inauguration of the festival was a big success.
The first band opening the event was The Butthole Surfers. The alternative rock genre became more famous from then on.
Then, the festival started leaning on grunge and alternative acts. They also added a hip-hop genre.
In 2003, due to the high ticket prices, the tour did not get as much profit as expected. Perry Ferrell then collaborated with Capital Sports and Entertainment Company to produce Lollapalooza.
In 2005, Lollapalooza became a two-day destination festival. It showed 70 acts on five different stages, all in one venue. It attracted 65,000 attendees.
Many prominent artists have performed for the festival, like Jane’s Addiction themselves, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Fat Boy Slim, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Marshmello, etc.
5. Reading and Leeds Festival
The Reading and Leeds festival is yet another British-born mega event. It takes place in two locations: Reading and Leeds simultaneously.
What makes the Reading festival so popular is that it is the world’s oldest music festival. The best thing is that influential British and international bands have played for this festival for over five decades.
Formerly known as the National Jazz Festival, Harold Pendleton initiated this event. The festival took place in 1961 at Richmond Athlete Ground.
In 1963, instead of showcasing only Jazz music, the festival added the rhythm and blues act. The festival moved to Read in 1970. From then on, the lineup consisted majorly of progressive rock, blues, and hard rock artists.
Artists like The Jam, The Stranglers, Sham 69 were the first of the headliners. Reading Festival had several bands like Nirvana and The Stone Roses for years.
Slowly, Britpop, Indie, and Hip-hop artists also joined the festival. Artists like the Beastie Boys, Ice Cube, and The Prodigy played for the event.
In 1999, the festival added another venue, Temple Newsam, Leeds, due to the increasing demand. Thus, it is now known as the Reading and Leeds festival.
How does the format of the festival work? Well, the artists will perform at Leeds after they have performed at Reading. The opening day lineups will perform on the final day at Reading.
The headliners of 2019 were The 1975 and Foo Fighters. Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots had co-hosted the show.
6. Ultra Music Festival (UMF)
Ultra Music Festival is an American electronic dance music (EDM) festival held in Miami. It takes place on a March weekend and brings the biggest names in the EDM industry.
The UMF also has an international franchise called ‘Ultra Worldwide.’ It is the same festival hosted in South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, India, Australia, China, etc.
Two business partners, Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes, conceived the idea of the UMF in 1999. The first event was a one-day event held at Collins Park in Miami Beach. DJs like Paul van Dyk, Rabbit in the Moon, Josh Wink, and DJ Baby Anne were the show’s first performers.
The first event acquired only 10,000 attendees. However, it started multiplying over the years. Due to this, the venue kept on changing to fit the concert-goers.
In 2009, the UMF set a new record of ticket sales with 70,000 attendees. That year had headliners like The Black Eyed Peas, The Prodigy, The Ting Tings, Santigold, etc.
So far, the world’s best DJs like Calvin Harris, Benny Benassi, David Guetta, Zedd, and others have already performed for this event.
7. Sziget festival
Sziget festival is one of the five best festivals in Europe. It is also a two-time ‘Best Major European Festival’ winner at the European Festival Awards.
Sziget is a week-long festival held in Budapest, Hungary. There more than 1,000 performances occur each year.
Other than the performances, people know Sziget for its fantastic stage setups. Its ‘party train’ service is famous all over Europe.
Sziget festival includes performances from different music genres. It gives each genre a platform with stage setups, such as the Blues Stage, Jazz Tent, World Music Stage, etc.
Famous names in the music industry like Iron Maiden, Prince, and Imagine Dragons have participated in this event. DJs like Skrillex, Clean Bandit, Calvin Harris, and more have also performed for this event.
Some music fans had initiated this festival in 1993. The festival’s name was Diáksziget (student island) in the initial phase.
From 1996 to 2001, Pepsi had sponsored the festival. Thus, the festival got renamed ‘Pepsi Sziget.’ It was again given the name ‘Sziget Festival’ from 2002.
From having 43,000 attendees in 1993 to having 565,000 attendees in 2018, Sziget Festival has come a long way.
8. Pol’and’Rock Festival (Woodstock Festival Poland)
Pol’and’Rock festival is the biggest non-commercial event in Europe. The festival is also known as the Woodstock Festival in Poland. It mainly hosts rock music but also represents reggae, EDM, and classical music.
The organizers host the event in Kostrzyn nad Odra with the motto: Love, Friendship, Music. Polish bands like IRA, Acid Drinkers and Lessdress have performed for this festival.
International bands like Sabaton, The Stranglers, The Prodigy, and Papa Roach are the few names who have wowed the crowd at this festival.
Jurek Owsiak conceived the idea of Woodstock Festival Poland in July 1995. The festival was held at Czymanowo.
In July 1998, this festival featured 50 band performances. The headliners were Clusterkeller, Akurat, Kobranocka, Acid Drinkers, and Oddzial.
For the first time in Woodstock’s history, 150,000 people attended this festival. Now, the event hosts a crowd of about 750,000 people.
It has five different stages dedicated to five different music genres. This music festival caters to the music of the audience’s preference.
9. Sónar Festival
Sónar is an annual festival known for its unique format of musical performances. It is an electronic and advanced music festival that takes place in many places.
Some locations are Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Reykjavik, and Istanbul. The festival holds its main event in Barcelona.
Sonar Festival brings more than 300 artists from different countries. It is also a good platform for local artists.
This 3-day event also premiers tech shows. It gives the attendees a unique experience.
Three partners founded the festival: Richard Robles, Enric Palau, and Sergi Caballero. They introduced it as the ‘Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art’ in 1994.
The founders had divided the event into two categories: Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night.
Nearly 6,000 people attended the first Sónar event. It had a gradual growth after Sonar by Night moved to a new venue with more audience capacity.
By 2000, the event had 53,000 attendees.
10. Primavera Sound
Primavera Sound is a festival that brings music fans to witness a wide range of artists. The festival showcases a gender-balanced lineup. It means an equal number of male and female artists perform at this festival.
Primavera Sound takes place in Barcelona, Porto. The facilitators have decided to host this festival in Los Angeles in 2021.
Pablo Soler founded Primavera Sound in the 1990s. Then, the event had acquired a tiny crowd in Barcelona.
In 2001, Primavera Sound took place in Poble Espanyol as a one-day event. It was more significant in production and had more than one stage. It attracted around 7,700 people.
The first artists to perform were Armand Van Helden, Carl Craig, Le Hammond Inferno, Unkle, etc. From 2002, Primavera Sound became a two-day festival. It included both musical and non-musical performances.
In 2005, the festival got relocated to a much larger site—Parc del Forum. In 2012, it expanded to Porto, Portugal, under the name ‘NOS. Primavera Sound’.
From then on, artists like Pulp, Tindersticks, Blur, Fiona Apple, Pixies, Arctic Monkeys, and more have headlined for this show. Since its origin, it has acquired around 63,000 attendees so far.
11. Hot 97 Summer Jam
Summer Jam is a one-day festival hosted every year at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford. New York-based radio station Hot 97 FM sponsors this event, so its name is Hot 97 Summer Jam.
If you are a fan of all the hottest rappers and R&B artists, this event can’t miss for you. Music lovers know the Hot 97 Summer Jam as the biggest hip-hop concert in the world.
The event has a world-class lineup from the hip-hop scene like Big Sean, DJ Khaled, A$AP Rocky, Bryson Tiller, and Tinashe.
The event has two stages: Hot 97 Summer Jam Stadium Stage and Hot 97 Summer Jam Festival Stage. Both are exciting and full of talents.
The 2019’s Hot 97 Summer Jam had the hottest artists like Cardi B, Meek Mill, Migos, Tory Lanez, A Boogie, Rich the Kid. Funk Flex, Davido, Casanova, Melii, Megan Thee Stallion, and more also performed.
KMEL, a San Francisco-based radio station, came up with the idea of this event. They were famous for hosting the large-scale Summer Jam Concerts from the 1987s.
12. Governors Ball Music Festival
The Governors Ball Music Festival is an annual three-day music festival hosted at Randalls Island, New York. It is also known as the Governor’s Ball or Gov Ball.
It features a wide variety of music genres, including rock, hip-hop, pop, electronic, and folk. Besides these, the festival delivers a wide range of food, activities, and games too.
The founders inaugurated the Governors Ball on June 18, 2011, at Governors Island as a one-day event. The founders are Jordon Wolowitz, Tom Russell, and Yoni Reisman.
The first headliners of the event were Girl Talk, Empire of the sun, and Pretty Lights. Performances by Mac Miller, Outasight, and Big Boi (of Outkast) were also the show’s highlights.
13. Montreal International Jazz Festival
The Montreal International Jazz Festival is the world’s largest jazz festival. This annual festival even holds a Guinness World Record, too.
This jazz festival brings more than 3,000 artists from all around the world. Those artists perform on 20 different stage setups, including outdoor and indoor stages. As an audience, you can roam around and go to the venue of your choice.
Alain Simard initiated the Montreal International Jazz festival. He had the idea to create a summer festival in Montreal that would bring several artists to one stage.
In 1980, the festival had received funding from Alain de Grosbois of CBC Stereo and Radio-Quebec. Now, this event also hosts an annual jazz competition called the TD Grand Jazz Award. Toronto-Dominion bank sponsors this competition.
Summerfest is an annual music festival held at Henry Maier Festival Park, Wisconsin. It has the world’s largest music festival title granted by the Guinness World Records in 1999.
The event is 11 days long and includes over a thousand performances by famous musicians. With over 12 stages for musical performances, it has a lot of other attractions too.
Festival attendees can entertain themselves at the Milwaukee-based restaurants, shopping vendors. There are options for watching the firework shows, doing family activities, and more.
Artists of various genres like The Doors, Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, Imagine Dragons, and more have already headlined this event.
I mean, you’re getting the best of all the music genres here.
Henry W. Maier, who used to be the mayor of Milwaukee, initiated Summerfest in the 1960s. The event got inaugurated in July 1968. The organizers held the event at 35 different locations throughout Milwaukee that year.
Summerfest had concerts, film festivals, an air show, and even a beauty pageant. Now, it is most famous for its music concerts. From having 86,000 attendees in 1995, Summerfest has attracted 1,000,563 attendees so far.
15. Rock in Rio
Rock in Rio is a big music festival. Annually, it gets around 1.5 million in attendance.
The organizers hold this event in Rio de Janerio. It is then followed by its other international venues like Lisboa, Madrid, and Las Vegas. It is set to branch out at Santiago, Chile, in 2021.
Rock in Rio is an ultimate musical extravaganza that lasts for seven days. The experience of witnessing your favorite artists and epic fireworks makes you feel like you’re in a Disney world.
You get the best of rock, best of pop, best of heavy metal, best of – EVERYTHING! And not to forget you can also get food and beverages in the venue.
Roberto Medina founded Rock in Rio in 1985. He moved the festival to Lisboa, Portugal, in 2004 and brought it back to Rio de Janerio again in 2011.
The first Rock in Rio festival had Queen George Benson, Rod Stewart, AC/DC, and James Taylor. Around 1.4 million people attended this 10-day event.
Other artists like Prince, Guns N’ Roses, Rihanna, Shakira, Coldplay, Beyonce, Drake, and more have already headlined this show.
16. Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC)
The Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is an annual festival denoted as the ‘largest electronic dance festival in North America.’ This 3-days long event has its flagship event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada.
If I have to describe EDC, I would call it beautiful and WILD.
Apart from dancing to famous EDM producers and DJs’ beats, this event has other store activities. Artists such as Diplo, Calvin Harris, Alesso, and many more have performed at this festival.
You can go to the gaming booths, chill at camping sites, or devour yourself at the food stalls. The carnival is full of colorful art installments, which glow-in-the-dark. Plus, the various carnival performers will show you a thrilling side to the event.
Another great thing about EDC is that a part of ticket sales get donated to national charities and community organizations like:
1. Rock the Vote
2. Families for Effective Autism Treatment
- Injured Police Officers Fund
1. Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada
2. Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation
3. The Las Vegas Academy for Arts
Stephen Hauptfuhr held EDC in 1991 for the first time. Insomniac Events debuted this festival at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
EDC is hosted annually in Las Vegas, Orlando, China, and Mexico. The event is also hosted in Puerto Rico, The UK, Brazil, and India.
17. Fuji Rock, Japan
Fuji Rock Festival, or Fuji Rock, is a three-day event featuring more than 200 musicians worldwide.
No, this event does not take place in Mount Fuji, if you’re wondering. Fuji Rock’s organizers hold this event at Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.
Want to know what’s different about the Fuji Rock Festival?
There are seven main stages and other small stages dispersed around the Naeba Ski Resort. To reach each platform, you need to walk the hilly trails through the forest.
Well, have you ever done that while attending a concert? Plus, you can get a Gondola lift, too, called the Dragondola. Dragondola takes you up to the mountains, from where you can overlook the festival venue.
The festival consists of more than 30 food stalls from all around the world. Apart from great music, this event is entirely environment-friendly.
The event has had famous international headliners like The Chemical Brothers, the Cure, Death cab for Cutie, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Chvrches, Gorillaz, and more.
Smash Japan had organized the first Fuji Rock in 1997 near Mount Fuji at Tenjinyama Ski Resort. Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) had headlined the event.
However, the event was a complete disaster due to the typhoon. Also, Anthony Kield of RHCP broke an arm due to performing in the storm. Many of the festival attendees weren’t prepared and suffered from hypothermia.
In 1998, the organizers temporarily moved the festival to Toyosu. Since the organizers host it in mid-summer, the attendees had a hard time adjusting to the heat.
From 1999, Fuji Rock found its home at Naeba, and now it takes place annually around July to August months.
Donauinselfest, which means Danube Island Festival in German, is an annual music festival in Donauinsel, Vienna, Austria. The event goes on for three days, and the best thing is that entry is free.
It is the largest open-air music festival. Performers of various genres, including rock, pop, folk, hip-hop, and metal, entertain the crowd. Donauinselfest also invites international artists to perform for the event.
There are many foods and drink stalls. You can also find themed activity areas to entertain yourself.
An SPO Politician named Harry Kopietz had initiated this event in 1983. It was to promote Donauinsel City as a recreational area. The first event hosted around 160,000 attendees.
During all these years, Dounauinselfest has successfully acquired around 3 million audiences. Artists like Bonnie Tyler, Shaggy, Scorpions Band, Billy Idol, Train, Amy Macdonald, Paul van Dyk, Sean Paul, and more have headlined the event.
19. Nova Rock Festival
Nova Rock is an Austrian music festival that takes place in Nickelsdorf, Austria. The festival generally focuses on alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, and electronic music.
The four-day festival supports local artists. It also brings together many international rock bands to entertain the crowd. Some of them are System of a Down, Audio Slave, Metallica, Bullet for my Valentine, and Sex Pistols.
Nova Rock is rock heaven where there is good music, food, beer, moshpits. Most importantly, there is unity between all the festival attendees.
Nova Music Entertainment had curated this event. It is a cooperation between Music net, FKP Scorpio, and several former employees of Wiesen.
The first performers of the festival were System of a Down, The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, Money brother, Weezer, and more.
From 2006, the festival had two large stages: Blue and Red. Currently, the festival has added another platform sponsored by Red Bull. It is the Red Bull Brandwagen Stage.
20. Coachella Valley of Music and Arts Festival
My favorite for the last! Coachella is a legendary music and arts festival that stirs much hype among celebrities and attendees.
Coachella is a three-day festival. It takes place for two weekends at the Empire Polo Club, Indio, California. The area around the venue at the Colorado Desert is also known as the Coachella Valley.
Coachella is one of the most successful music festivals globally. It has brought the mega-hit makers to the stage and has also given exposure to emerging artists.
Trust me, while you get back from Coachella, you will have a bunch full of new artists to add to your playlist.
Another striking thing about Coachella is the stage setups. As an audience, you will get to watch the artists of every genre on their specific tents.
The main Coachella stage is where the headlining acts perform. The Sahara tent hosts top electronic dance music acts. Likewise, there are Mojave tents, Gobi tents, and more, which have their genre.
Even if you are not a specific music genre fan, peek into one of these tents. I’m sure you will return with a new favorite genre.
The iconic Ferris wheel and art installations are the festival attendees’ favorite picture spot. There are many food stalls, but the prices are very high. So, it is better to have a substantial breakfast before hitting the concert.
So far, Coachella has had big names of the music industry headlining on the main stage. Some of them are Rage Against the Machine, Jane’s Addiction, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, AC/DC, The Weeknd, Beyonce, and Eminem.
It was co-founded by Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen in 1999. Golden Voice organizes the event.
On October 9, 1999, the festival got inaugurated as a two-day festival. It had headliners like Beck, Tool, and Rage against the Machine. Then, tickets used to cost only $50.
The festival got its big break when a famous rock band called Pearl Jam chose to perform at the Empire Polo Club. Rumors have it that they had a beef with Ticketmaster (a ticketing company). Since Coachella’s venue was not related to Ticketmaster, they agreed to pay for the event.
Daft Punk’s performance in 2006 is also known as the most memorable event in Coachella’s history.