Pop festival

A rock festival is considered to be a large-scale rock music concert, featuring multiple acts performing a sometimes diverse range of popular music including rock, pop, folk, and related genres. As originally conceived in the late 1960s, rock festivals were held outdoors, often in open rural areas or open-air sports arenas, fairgrounds and parks, typically lasted two or more days, featured long rosters of musical performers, and attracted very large crowds - sometimes numbering several hundred thousand people.

Rock festivals took on a unique identity and attracted significant media attention when they first appeared. Preceded by several precursor events in the San Francisco area, it is generally acknowledged that the first two rock festivals were staged in northern California on consecutive weekends in the summer of 1967: the KFRC Fantasy Fair & Magic Mountain Music Festival on Mount Tamalpais (June 10–11) and the Monterey International Pop Festival (June 16–18).[1] The concept caught fire and spread quickly, not only across America but the world.

According to Bill Mankin, in their dawning age rock festivals were important socio-cultural milestones: “… it would not be an exaggeration to say that, over a few short years, rock festivals played a unique, significant – and underappreciated – role in fueling the countercultural shift that swept not only America but many other countries [during the 1960s]. It seems fitting… that one of the most enduring labels for the entire generation of that era was derived from a rock festival: the ‘Woodstock Generation’.”[2]

Reflecting their musical diversity and the then-common term ‘pop music’, for the first few years many rock festivals were called ‘pop festivals’. This also served to distinguish them among the ticket-buying public from other, pre-existing types of music festivals such as jazz and folk festivals. By the end of 1972, however, the term ‘pop festival’ had virtually disappeared as festival promoters adopted more creative, unique and location-specific names to identify and advertise their events. While it was still in vogue, however, over-zealous promoters eager to capitalize on the festival concept made the most of it, with some using the term “Pop Festival” or “Rock Festival” to advertise events held on a single day or evening, often indoors, and featuring only a handful of acts.[3]

Today, rock festivals are still usually open air concerts spread out over several days. Many are annual events sponsored by the same organization, and many feature a single type or closely related genres of music such as dance, electronic, and heavy metal.

Historic festivals

The following is a sample of rock festivals of historical significance, with an emphasis on multiple-day, outdoor events.

Travelling festivals

A recent innovation is the travelling rock festival where many musical acts perform at multiple locations during a tour. Successful festivals are often held in subsequent years.

Current festivals

The following is a list of some rock festivals that took or take place on a regular basis. Most are held at the same location on an annual basis. Some, like Farm Aid are held at different venues with each incarnation. For a full list of festivals, see the external links at the bottom of the page.

North and Central America

South America


Belgium and The Netherlands







United Kingdom


Rest of Europe



Middle East


No fixed location

Most famous and biggest festivals

North America:

South and Central America:

United Kingdom:




See also


External links

  • Festivalguide with more than 500 international TOP Rock Festivals all over the world
  • Rock Festivals 2012 - Listing of all Rock festivals 2012
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