HISTORY OF MUSIC FESTIVALS
Abridged by Hal Davidson
Enjoy this basic chronological history of music festivals and major festival-like one day concerts. Concert and music festival events were chosen for size or notoriety. Sorry if your fave fest is not listed here.
ANCIENT MUSIC FESTIVALS
est. 4500 B.C. Pre-Dynastic Period. Ancient Egyptian Festivals. Religious rites and ceremonies and political fests featured music and dance.
6th century B.C. Ancient Greece Pythian Games Delphi
Middle Ages Europe Competitive music festivals sponsored by guilds (unions)
1897 Irish Music festival Dublin, Ireland (see other international music festivals after US Fests)
ISBN 978-0-615-38033-9
1934
The Berkshire Festival MA
1924 - Present
Ole Time Fiddlers and Bluegrass Festival NC (in later years est. 100,000) Present
1949
Aspen Music Festival Aspen, Colo.
1954
Newport Jazz Festival RI
1965
Newport Folk Festival
1967
Monterey Int’l. Pop Festival 50,000
1968
Miami Music Festival Miami, FL 100,000
1968
Newport Pop Fest CA 100,000
1968
Altamont Speedway- Rolling Stones CA 120,000
1969
Woodstock NY est. 500,000
1969
New Orleans Pop Festival LA25,000
1969
Newport Jazz Festival Newport, RI 78,000
1969
Texas Int’l. Pop Festival 140,000
1969
Denver Pop Festival 50,000 CO (3 day stadium event)
1969
Atlantic City Pop Festival Atlantic City Race Course 110,000
1969
Atlanta Pop Festival Atlanta Int’l. Raceway 140,000
1970
Atlanta Pop Festival Atlanta Int’l. Raceway 200,000
1970
New Orleans Jazz Festival aka JazzFest since 1971
1970
Seattle Pop Festival Woodenville, WA 70,0000
1970
Stevens Point Music Festival Stevens Point, WI 60,000
1970
Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival Heyworth, IL 60,000
1972
Mt. Pocono Rock Festival PA 200,000
1973
Watkins Glen NY 600,000
1974
Cal Jam CA 200,000
1974
August Jam Charlotte Motor Speedway 150,000 Charlotte, NC
1974
Ozark Music Festival (Beatles reunion rumored) MO some est. 350,000
1976
Stompin 76 Galax, VA 100,000+
1978
Cal Jam Ontario Motor Speedway CA 250,000
1978
Summer Jam Watkins Glen, NY 600,000
 
(Promoted as 1 day event. Day before added due to 80,000 early entries)
1979
MUSE Festival (Musicians United for Safe Energy) 5 days at Mad. Sq. Garden
1981- Present
Jamboree In The Hills OH 70,000 Present
1982 -83
US Festivals CA 375,000
1984
JVC International Jazz Festival (now in New York City and Newport)
1985- 2005
Farm Aid 1 day IL 80,000
1985- 2005
Live Aid 1 million in 10 cites in one day globally
1988 - present
Merlefest NC 4,000 - present 78,000
1991- present
Lollapooza tour
1991- 1996
HORDE Fest tour - 1996
1996 - 2006
OzzFest tour - 2006
1996 - 1999
Lilith Fair annual stadium tours - 1999
1997 - present
All Good, Thornville OH, 30,000
1997 - present
Electric Daisy Carnival, FL, CA, CO, NV, NJ, TX, PR, 45,000-300,000
1999 - present
Voodoo Experience, New Orleans, LA, 100,000
1999 - present
ULTRA, Miami Beach, FL, 100,000
2001 - present
Bonnaroo, TN 80,000
2001 - present
Floydfest, VA 10,000
2007 - present
Stagecoach, Indio, CA, 55,000
2010 - present
Hangout Music Festival Gulf Shores, AL 35,000
2011 – present
Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI, 25,000
2012
Made In America, Phila, PA 80,000
 
MODERN ERA- GLOBAL MUSIC FESTIVALS
1947
The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Wales
 
Directly descends from medieval competitive festivals (12th century)
1876
Phish New Years Festival Seminole Reservation S. Florida 90,000 Bayreuth Festival (operas of Wagner) Germany
1920
Salzburg Festival (Mozart fest) descends from 1877 Salzburg Music Festival Austria
1934
Munich and Glyndebourne Festivals (opera) England
1948
Aldeburgh Festival England
1958
Osaka Festival of Music and Drama JAPAN
1958
Spoleto Festival 1977 USA version starts in SC
1968-70
Isle Of Wight Festivals England 1970 est. 600,000
1969
Toronto Pop Festival CAN
1971
Glastonbury 71 Festival England
1977
Religious Festival, India 12.7 million
1977-80
Reading Rock Festival England
1978
Montreal International Jazz Festival Summer
1988
Freedon Fest: Mandela address Wembley Stadium, London England
 
HISTORY OF MUSIC FESTIVALS
1991-present
High Sierra Music Festival, CA 10,000
1993-present
Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival, NC
1994-present
Essence Music Festival, 90,000
1997-2015
ALL GOOD Fest, MD, WV, PA, 30,000
1999
ULTRA Music Festival, FL 330,000 (2 weekends)
1999-present
Coachella Music Festival, CA 225,000 (75,000 per day)
2002-present
Joshua Tree, CA Festival Spring & Fall
2007-present
Russian River Jazz & Blues, CA
2008-present
Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, CA 40-60,000 per day
2008-present
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), CA, CO, FL, IL, NV, NJ, NY,TX, Mexico, Puerto Rico, UK, Brazil, Japan, India, 400,000+ over 3 days (134,000 per day).
2008, 2009, 2012
BamaJam Music 100,000
2010-present
Hang Out Music Fest, AL 35,000/ day
2011-present
Welcome to Rockville, FL 50,000
2011-present
Governors Ball Music Festival, NY, 135,000
2012-present
Firefly Music Festival DE, 90,000
2013-present
Bottlerock Napa Valley, CA
2015-present
RuidoFest, IL 6,000
2012-present
Firefly Music Festival, DE, 90,000
2016
Rock Fiesta, AZ 12,000
2016
The Meadows Music & Arts Festival, NY 50,000
 
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