Top 9 Rock Festivals

Photo by: Art Gimbel
by Art Gimbel Wed September 25, 2013 | 12:00 AM

When someone says they’re going to a festival, people usually assume they’re going to a rock music festival. While the world is full of all kinds of festivals, from the sacred to the profane, this category may define the largest number of commercial festivals. Not including the now-defunct Woodstock, the first one on our list, Glastonbury, is the granddaddy of them all.


Glastonbury (England)

Photo credit: Rachel D via Creative Commons

Sometimes better known for its mud than its music, this influential festival on a dairy farm has created a format (camping, partying, music-listening during the good weather summer) that’s been emulated the world round. Unfortunately, England does get June rains, hence the reason people get a little dirty and create mud pies.


Bonnaroo (US)

Video credit: Bonnaroo

One of more down-home friendly music festivals, Bonnaroo’s Tennessee location and eclectic music choices give it a sense of inclusiveness. Come one, come all.


EXIT Festival (Serbia)

Video credit: ExitFestivalTV

This festival started as a political protest that helped bring down a government and it’s now one of the best-regarded European festivals with its stunning location in a fortress on the Danube River.


Lollapalooza (US)

Video credit: Julio Cesar Fernandes

Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Ferrell conceived and created this festival more than 20 years ago. While it's had various incarnations around the world, Lollapalooza has found a permanent home in Chicago. The definition of the word “lollapalooza” (an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance) is a great way to describe this experience.


Sziget (Hungary)

Photo credit: Art Gimbel

This is one of the largest music festivals on the planet and is in one of the world’s great cities, Budapest. It’s not just rock music as there’s a classical concert here or there and maybe even a little opera.


Splashy Fen (South Africa)

Video credit: Stef Rust

A trout farmer and former journalist who loved Glastonbury and Woodstock staged a music festival on his land in 1990 and this has grown into Africa’s biggest rock festival, but there’s a strong influence of African music that gives this festival an indigenous flavor.


Coachella (US)

Video credit: Coachella

Due to its hot desert location, this festival on the outskirts of Los Angeles is usually one of the first music festivals of the season. A very fashionable, celebrity-studded crowd rocks out to the latest and greatest bands of the moment.


Pinkpop (Netherlands)

Video credit: vivalosramones

The Dutch love their music festivals and this one is their most famous. Held near the German and Belgian borders, this is the oldest continuously running rock festival in Europe.


Roskilde (Denmark)

Video credit: Roskilde Festival

This has been voted the “most respected” European rock festival by performers so it tends to attract an impressive, eclectic roster. Imagine Ray Charles and Velvet Underground sharing top billing as they did in 1993.


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