Top 10 Music Festivals in the World
The music festival is unarguably a modern musical institution. Finding its feet in the same tie-dyed 60’s setting as most modern guitar music, festivals have grown in popularity over the last few decades- becoming an annual coming together of like-minded music fans in most parts of the world. Although beginning as much more nomadic and roots-based affairs, many are now much more precise and showboating corporately backed affairs. Here’s a pick of 10 of the best around today.
10. Roskilde Festival – Denmark
Beginning, like many other festivals, as an outing for local hippies in 1971- this festival which takes place annually at a location on the south side of the Danish city of Roskilde, is one of the largest in Europe. Now a far more mainstream affair, Roskilde boasts an eclectic line-up annually stretching across some nine stages. Accommodating a diverse range of musical tastes, the festival remains as popular now as ever- with tickets in extremely high demand year after year.
9. Festival Internacional de Benicassim – Spain
This festival, commonly abbreviated to ‘FIB’, was first held in 1995 with a line-up including Supergrass, The Charlatans and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Held in the coastal sun-blessed town of Benicassim (around a 2 hour drive from Barcelona), festival goers have the choice of several beaches upon which to relax over the course of the weeklong event. Music does not start until around 5pm due to the intense Spanish summer sun, often running through until early the next morning. The festival is not only notorious for its line-ups, but the young party-going crowd it attracts each year.
8. Reading and Leeds – England
Originally just the Reading festival, this institution of British summertime began in 1971- again as a result of the whole 60’s movement thing. Quite oddly, the original order of the day was Jazz, however this had soon (thankfully) graduated into prog rock and heavy metal by the middle of the decade. The festival now boasts a northern site near the city of Leeds (although I’ve heard it’s actually closer to York…) with the two having the exact same line-up which interchanges each of the festivals 3 days.
7. Lollapalooza – USA
Created initially by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, this festival enjoyed an initial run for seven years between 91’ and 97’ before being side-lined until its eventual revival in 2003. What makes this festival standout internationally; is the fact that it was one of the first to hit the road all over North America. Instead of remaining in one place, the whole shabang moves all over the country maximising exposure, not to mention sheer awe.
6. Fuji Rock – Japan
Often described as the most picturesque music festival in the world, Fuji rock has been bringing western rock music (as well as showcasing home-grown talent) to Japan since 1997. Originally the festival was held at the base of the famous Mt. Fuji (hence the name), however the event has since been relocated to a ski resort some 187 miles north of Fuji. Retaining its original name however, the festival features around seven main music stages and in recent year’s attendees have been treated to the likes of Radiohead, The Stone Roses and Jack White.
5. T in the Park – Scotland
T in the Park is one of the UK’s largest music festivals- showcasing talent from many genre’s over its 7 stages. Originally taking place in Strathclyde Park, Lanarkshire from its conception in 1994 until 1997, but later moving to a larger site at Balado Airfield, Kinross – the festival is one of the most anticipated on the British and indeed European festival calendar. Although Scotland is a country not exactly celebrated for it’s great weather- T in the Park retains a reputation as having one of the best party-orientated atmosphere’s available annually, usually selling out each year.
4. Isle of Wight Festival – England
Taking place on the Isle of Wight off England’s southern coast, this festival initially ran between 1968 and 1970. It was reprised in 2002 and has been expanding gradually every year since. In its early years the festival featured the likes of The Who, Jimi Hendrix (1970: one of his last performances) and Pink Floyd- with the current incarnation opting to maintain these musical themes for the most part. Although perhaps not the most popular festival in the country (or even the Isle of Wight, see ‘Bestival’)- this gathering does carry a weighted history- having acted as influence upon many future figures of musical importance.
3. Wacken Open Air – Germany
Each year some 80,000 metal music fans descend on the quiet German town of Wacken to celebrate their genre. Most of the huge amount of subgenres existing within modern metal are represented here- attributing to one of the most diverse crowds of any other festival worldwide. First held with humble intentions in 1990, the festival quickly mutated into a phenomenon- drawing in some of the biggest cult acts in the world. Staying true to its original intentions, the festival continues to do well showcasing all kinds of crazy and obscure acts- surely acting as proof that metal is one of the most stable genres there is.
2. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – California
A festival I’ve always dreamed of attending, Coachella takes place in the Californian desert during the month of April. Running (pretty much) annually since 1999, the festival has been celebrating all kinds of popular music with style in temperatures exceeding 110*F ever since. With headliners as diverse as Bjork, The Beastie Boys and Kraftwerk featuring over the years, the festival does not dwell on just music- instead choosing to include the arts as a whole. Featuring a number of artwork installations yearly, the festival encourages links to be drawn between the musical and visual arts.
Easily the most famous music festival ever, Glastonbury began its long journey to becoming what it is now in the early 1970’s. Based heavily around the hippy ethic of free art and expression, the festival has grown from humble beginnings into a mecca of contemporary music. Whereas the first was attended (for free) by around 1,500 people and headlined by The Kinks (1970), the most recent event in 2011 saw some 150,000 attendees descend on the Pilton Farm, Somerset site to see headliners Coldplay, U2 and Beyonce’. Either way you look at that alteration in character, it is astonishing.
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