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July 2014

The 10 Biggest Music Festivals in the World

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Exit is an award winning festival, held in Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia. The festival was founded in 2000 in the University park as a student movement, fighting for democracy and freedom in Serbia and the Balkans. After the democratic changes happened in Serbia, Exit moved to the Petrovaradin fortress in 2001. Exit has won the ‘Best Overseas Festival’ award at the UK Festival Awards in 2007, ‘Best Major Festival Award’ in 2013 and was ranked one of the 10 best major festivals at European Festival Awards 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and one of the 10 Best Overseas Festival at UK Festival Awards 2013. Exit has an attendance of 200,000, over 300 acts perform there and 8 stages.


Paleo is an annual rock festival, it started in a small way in 1976, back then known as the Nyon Folk Festival and originally only had 2 stages. Paleo is mainly run by volunteers and limited fund, however still manages to attract thousands. They also like to expose up and coming artists and genres, and showcase a specific region every year in their “Village du Monde.” 2013, for example, saw food and music from the Indian Ocean region.


Despite the existence of dozens of other electronic music festivals, Ultra is the one that sold out of early bird tickets in four minutes, and advance tickets in twenty for their 2014 session. It was a one-day festival from 1999 to 2006, a two-day festival from 2007 to 2010, and was a three-day festival in 2011 and 2012. In 2012, a record 155,000 people per day attended the festival. In 2013, for the first time in festival history, UMF took place across two consecutive weekends. Over 300 acts perform over 7 stages.


The Sziget festival is the result of a time of political unrest. In the absence of summer youth camps after a change in government in the early ’90s, Hungarian youth needed a new summer outlet, which led to the beginning of the Sziget Festival. Up to 175 acts perform every year, there are 5 main stages but 15 in total. Around 385,000 people attend Sziget.


Przystanek Woodstock sticks to the genre of Rock, despite only having 3 stages 80 acts perform and around 550,000 people attend. The festival has a running theme of “Love, Friendship, and Music.” Entry is free and in fact Przystanek Woodstock is held by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity as a thank you to its volunteers.


Rock in Rios very first show, got 1.5 million festival-goers to Rio de Janeiro for the biggest acts of 1985 like Queen, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden. Even more huge headliners have performed such as Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen. The latest one held in Rio had an attendance of 700,000, Editions of the festival are also held in Lisbon and Madrid.


Coachella actually began as an effort to cater to the alternative and indie music scene, it has had huge names in both the line up and audience. Coachella has secured itself as one of the most well known festivals in the world, thanks to stunts like the hologram of Tupac. Around 190 acts perform over 6 stages and a crowd attendance of 675,000 sells out pretty consistently.


Summerfest was named the World’s Largest Festival by the Guinness Book of World Records, the festival lasts for 11 days, is made up of 11 stages with performances from over 800 bands. It attracts between 800,000 – 1 million people each year. The list of headliners over the years has some huge names such as, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston.


The line-up is mostly made up of African artists. Otherwise, a small selection of huge international names plays every year: in the past, Rabat has been visited by Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, and other greats, and in 2013 the festival was headlined by Rihanna. Mawazine keeps beating it’s attendance record having broken the million mark for many years now. The latest attendance was 2.5 million, with 90 acts performing for them across 7 stages.


Donauinselfest easily takes the crown for the biggest festival in the world on all counts, despite only lasting 3 days. For 30 years now, millions have gathered on a 6.5 kilometer stretch of the Danube Island in Vienna to hear the biggest names in Austrian music. A huge 3.2 million attended in 2013, to see over 2,000 acts across 21 stages.