101 Interesting music festival facts you may not have known

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You may have attended at least music festival in your life, but did you know that hundreds of them happen all around the world every year and that they come in all shapes and sizes?

There are a whole bunch of festivals that I would like to attend before I die, but attending them all would be nearly impossible (thanks to my limited lifespan and financial budgetary limits), but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to try to give it a shot. I am a music festival junkie after all…

If you are one of those people who are extremely curious about music festivals that happen all the world, you have come to right place…

Here are 101 Interesting Music Festival Facts:

1. The first edition of Oppikoppi festival (which happens near Northam in the Limpopo province of South Africa) was held in 1994. Only 600 people attended the first edition, but by 1998 the festival attendance figures reached 10,000 (thanks a great line-up of local artists). That figure exceeded 20,000 by 2013.

2. Oppikoppi festival has featured a lot of international artists over the years:

  • Ben Lee (Australia) at the Easter Festival in April 2006.
  • Hothouse Flowers (UK) at the Easter Festival in April 2007.
  • Jimmy Eat World (USA), Violent Femmes (USA) and Groove Armada (UK) in August 2007.
  • Sarah Brettens (from K’s Choice) at the Easter festival in April 2008.
  • Billy Talent (USA) in August 2010.
  • The Used (USA) and Sum 41 (USA) in August 2011.
  • Seether (USA), Eagles of Death Metal (USA), Enter Shakari (UK) and Bullet for my Valentine (UK) in August 2012.
  • Manchester Orchestra (USA), Yellowcard (USA) and Deftones (USA) in August 2013.
  • Rival Sons (USA), Wolfmother (Australia), Cat Power (USA), Willy Mason (USA), The Inspector Cluzo (France), Tatran (Israel) and Editors (UK) in August 2014.
  • Brand New (USA), Gogol Bordello (USA), Tatran (Israel), Livingston (UK), Powersolo (Denmark) and Twin Atlantic (UK) in August 2015.
  • Yelawolf (USA), August Burns Red (USA) and KONGOS (USA) in August 2016.
  • The Naked and Famous (New Zealand), Two Door Cinema Club (UK) and Flume (Australia) in October 2017.

3. South Africa’s oldest music festival is Splashy Fen in the KwaZulu-Natal province of the country. The first festival was held in 1990. +/- 8,000 people attend this festival (which is usually held on the Easter long weekend) every year.

4. Mieliepop festival was first held in 2011 at Tolderia Resort near Lothair in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.

5. Mieliepop festival has featured a few international artists over the years: Uriah Heep (in 2012), Men Without Hats (in 2014) and DZ Deathrays (in 2018).

6. Up The Creek festival was first held in 1990. This boutique festival (which is held on the banks of the Breede river in the Western Cape province of South Africa) attracts +/- 2700 music lovers (who float on inflatable devices on the river and listen to great artists performing music) every year.

7. RAMFest was last held in South Africa in 2014. The last edition featured international headliners Biffy Clyro, Foals, Killswitch Engage and Trivium at shows in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The first edition of this festival was held in 2007. The 2015 and 2016 editions were both cancelled.

8. RAMFest also featured international headliners in 2010 (Pendulum), 2011 (Alkaline Trio & Funeral for a friend), 2012 (Awolnation & In Flames) and 2013 (Bring Me The Horizon and Rise Against).

9. Rocking The Daisies is held in October every year at Cloof Estate (outside Darling in the Western Cape province of South Africa). The festival attracts +/- 25,000 music lovers and has been held since 2005.

Glastonbury Music Festival

10. The first edition of Glastonbury festival was held on 19 September 1970 near Pilton, Somerset, England. The Kinks were one of the headliners and tickets cost only £1. The first edition of this festival was attended by 1500 people.

11. The 2017 edition of Glastonbury festival was held from 21 to 25 June. The festival was headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran and tickets cost £238. This edition was attended by 135,000 people.

12. In 2007, 2,485 miles (3999 kilometres) of toilet roll were on site for the opening day for Glastonbury festival. If you stretch that out and stick it together, you could reach Bagdad from London.

13. Tickets for the 2017 edition of Glastonbury festival were sold out in 50 minutes.

14. After years of people gate-crashing Glastonbury, the organisers finally decided to construct a ‘super-fence’ in 2002 (which cost £1 million). Standing at 12 feet tall, the barrier is virtually impossible to scale, break through or burrow under.

15. Sonisphere festival is a touring rock music festival which takes place across Europe between June and August.

16. Sonisphere festival has not been hosted in the UK since 2014.

17. Rock and Metal acts that have played at Sonisphere festival over the years include Slipknot, Metallica, Korn, Lamb of God, Pendulum, Mastodon, Primal Scream, The Hives and Linkin Park (to name just a few).

18. The first edition of Download Festival was held in 2003.The festival is held every year in June at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England (in the UK).

19. The Download Dog is the official mascot of the Download Festival. His name is Dexter.

The Download Dog at Download Music Festival

20. The first edition of Download Festival France was hosted in Paris in 2016, the first edition of Download Festival Spain was hosted in Madrid in 2017 and the first edition of Download Festival Australia was hosted in Melbourne in 2018.

21. In June 2018 Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N’ Roses and Ozzy Osbourne headlined the UK edition of Download Festival. +/- 80,000 people attended this edition.

22. At the 2004 edition of Download Festival Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich wasn’t feeling to well so he asked around to find someone who would be filling his shoes during his band’s set, two stepped up to perform the task: Joey Jordison (from Slipknot) and Dave Lombardo (from Slayer).

23. AC/DC are the only band to have ever had their very own exclusive purpose built stage at Download Festival. The band insisted on a 65-meter platform featuring a six-ton train, two sets of cannons and a giant bell in 2010.

24. Reading Festival was originally known as the National Jazz Festival and was hosted for the first time in 1961 at Richmond Athletic Ground. It was hosted at different locations in London and other cities before finding a permanent home in Reading in 1971.

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25. The first edition of Leeds Festival was held in 1999 to cope with demand for tickets for Reading Festival. Both festivals have been on the same bank holiday weekend since then.

26. Reading Festival’s site has a capacity of 90,000 and Leeds Festival’s site has a capacity of 75,000.

27. Flags and banners have been banned at Reading Festival since 2009.

28. Bottling acts offstage is a frequent occurrence at Reading Festival. The list of acts that have been bottled over the years includes Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, 50 Cent, Twenty One Pilots, Panic At The Disco!, Good Charlotte and My Chemical Romance. Some of the bottled acts finished their sets, others did not.

29. Nirvana headlined Reading Festival in 1992.

Reading Music Festival

30. Kasabian, Eminem and Muse headlined the Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2017.

31. STRAB music festival (in Mozambique) was first held in 2004. The first event wasn’t really a festival though, it was just a bunch of bands playing music for people who went diving on a weekend at Ponta Malongane.

32. Tickets for STRAB music festival are limited to only 1,000.

33. STRAB (Subterranean Rhythm and Blues) festival features mostly South African artists. Acts that have played there over the years include The Black Cat Bones, Dan Patlansky, Albert Frost, Karen Zoid, Mr Cat and the Jackal, Chris Chameleon, Jack Hammer, Willim Welsyn, Bittereinder and others. Seth Ultang (from The Lumineers) also played a solo set there in 2013.

34. Bushfire Festival has been held in Swaziland since 2006 and has been named by CNN as one of the 7 African music festival you have to see and by BBC as the top African music festival.

35. Bushfire Festival is held in the Malkerns Valley in Swaziland in May every year and attracts 20,000 people.

36. 100% of Bushfire Festival’s profits donated to two Swazi charities; Young Heroes, (a child sponsorship programme assisting Swazi orphans), and Gone Rural boMake (a charity that assists rural Swazi women and the communities with information and infrastructure development, addressing health, education and social concerns).

37. Festival Mawazine is Morocco’s biggest music festival that takes place annually in Rabat, Morocco. It attracts more than 2 million people and has been held since October 2001.

38. The 3-day Vic Falls Carnival is held at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe every year and features performances by artists from Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.

39. The Cape Town International Jazz Festival was first held in 1999 and attracts 30,000 over the 2 days that’s it held every year at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Pinkpop Music Festival

40. Pinkpop Festival has been held at Landgraaf in the Netherlands since 1970. 60,000 people attend the festival every year (which is now held over 3 days).

41. Pearl Jam played one of their most iconic sets at Pinkpop Festival in 1992.

42. Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars headlined the 2018 edition of Pinkpop Festival. Snow Patrol, The Script, Editors, The Offspring, Nothing But Thieves and A Perfect Circle were also on the line-up.

43. Graspop Metal Meeting (a heavy metal music festival in Belgium) has been held since 1996.

44. The 2018 edition of Graspop Metal Meeting sold out. It was the first time that this has happened in the festival’s history. The festival attracts more than 150,000 people.

45. The 2018 edition of Graspop Metal Meeting featured Guns N’ Roses, Ghost, Kataklysm, Madball, Iron Maiden, Parkway Drive, Ayreon, Neurosis, Less Than Jake, Volbeat, Marilyn Manson, Bloodbath, Baroness, Underoath, Ozzy Osbourne, A Perfect Circle, Meshuggah, The Bloody Beetroots and Thy Art is Murder (to name just a few of the acts).

46. Graspop Metal Meeting was originally conceptualized as a Family Rock Festival in 1986.

47. Pukkelpop was first held in 1985. This music festival is held near Hasselt, Belgium.

48. Pukkelpop has been attracting more than 180,000 people every year since 2009.

49. Pukkelpop takes place in August every year and features rock, pop, electronic, dance, hip-hop, punk and heavy metal artists.

Pukkelpop Music Festival

50. More than 200 artists performed at Pukkelpop in 2017. Mumford & Sons, The xx, Editors, Billy Talent, Rise Against were on the list of artists who performed.

51. The first edition Tomorrowland (an electronic / dance music festival) was held in 2005.

52. Tomorrowland is held near the town of Boom, Belgium and since 2017 it has been held over 2 weekends in July (to cope with demand for tickets). It was also held over two weekends in 2014 (to celebrate the festival’s 10 year anniversary).

53. 400,000 people attended Tomorrowland 2017 over the two weekends. 180,000 people attended the 2016 edition.

54. Tickets for Tomorrowland sell out really fast. In 2013 180,000 tickets were sold in just one second.

55. Tomorrowland attracts festival goers from more than 200 countries (which is more countries that are currently members of the United Nations).

56. Tomorrowland is the home of Europe’s biggest Ferris Wheel. The wheels reaches 60 metres into the sky.

57. Drugs are prohibited at Tomorrowland. They frisk you at the entrance and if you think you’re carry anything in your bag that you shouldn’t be carrying, you can dispose of it in “Amnesty bins”. If the organizers find illegal drugs on you during the festival, you’ll get escorted off the premises.

58. Tomorrowland’s wristbands also serve as electronic wallets.

59. David Guetta is the only DJ that has played at each and every Tomorrowland festival.

Tomorrowland Music Festival

60. Tomorrowland festival has 16 different stages featuring +/- 400 DJs.

61. Rock Werchter is a rock a festival that is hosted near the village of Werchter in Belgium every year in July.

62. Rock Werchter started out as a one day event in 1974, became a two day event in 1996 and since 2003 it has been held over 4 days.

63. Rock Werchter has capacity for 88,000 people per day.

64. Rock Werchter 2017 featured performances by Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Imagine Dragons, Lorde, Prophets of Rage, Radiohead, Linkin Park, System of a down and blink-182 (To name just a few of the artists on the line-up).

65. Roskilde Festival (in Denmark) is Northern Europe’s biggest music festival and attracts more than 130,000 people every year.

66. The first Roskilde Festival was held in 1971. It was the brainchild of two high school students and a promoter.

67. Since 1999 Roskilde Festival has featured a naked run around the campsite. One male and one female winner receive a ticket for the next year’s festival. It has become so popular that qualifying events needed to be organised for male participants.

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68. Nine people died and twenty-six people were injured at Roskilde Festival in 2000. People were crushed as the crowd rushed toward the stage to watch Pearl Jam.

69. The 2017 edition of Roskilde Festival featured Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, Ice Cube and The Weeknd (to name just a few of the artists who performed).

Wacken Open Air Music Festival

70. Wacken Open Air is a heavy metal music festival which is hosted for 4 days in August every year in Germany.

71. The first edition of Wacken Open Air was held in 1990. Only 800 people attended the first edition (which featured only a few German bands). More than 80,000 attend the festival every year now (which featured 170 bands on 8 different stages in 2017).

72. Tickets for Wacken Open Air sold out in 48 hours for the 2014 edition, 12 hours for the 2015 edition and in 23 hours for the 2016 edition. These tickets were sold out a year before the respective events (for which line-ups have not been announced).

73. The first edition of Rock am Ring (a rock music festival in Germany) was held in 1985. It was original intended as a one-time event, but because it was so popular it turned into an annual event.

74. Combined with Rock im Park (its sister festiva which is held on the same weekend) Rock am Ring has an annual attendance figure of +/- 150,000.

75. The first Burning Man gathering took place in 1986 when Larry Harvey called his friend Jerry James on the summer solstice and said that he wanted to burn a man. They built an 9-foot man out of scrap lumber, soaked it in petrol and burned it on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. The initial group of 12 friends grew to around 35 as people gathered from other parts of the beach to watch the man burn.

77. Burning Man is attended by +/- 70,000 people annually now and takes place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It was moved there in 1991 from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park because police considered it to be a fire hazard.

78. Burning Man does not allow vending or corporate sponsors, which is how many festivals make their money, so ticket sales are an important part of its revenue.

79. Burning Man is a community of active participants in a tent city that exists for only week in the year.

AfrikaBurn Music Festival

80. AfrikaBurn is an official Burning Man event that has been held annually in South Africa in the Tankwa Karoo National Park since 2007.

81. AfrikaBurn attracts more than 10,000 people every year and adheres to the ten priciples of Burning Man.

82. The Woodstock Music & Air Fair (also referred to as “Woodstock” or “Woodstock Festival”) was held in August 1969 on a dairy farm in upstate New York in the USA.

83. The 1969 Woodstock Festival attracted more than 400,000 people and featured performances by Joan Baez, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Band, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, etc.

84. Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Frank Zappa, The Doors, Free, Joni Mitchell, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones were invited / considered as acts for Woodstock, but declined / cancelled performances.

85. In 1994 another Woodstock festival was organised to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Woodstock. The festival was held 10 miles from the original site in Saugerties, New York. An estimated 550,000 people attended the festival.

86. Woodstock ’94 featured performances by Live, James, Sheryl Crow, Collective Soul, Violent Femmes, Joe Cocker, Blind Melon, Cypress Hill, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Aerosmith, The Cranberries, Spin Doctors, Bob Dylan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day and others.

87. In 1999 another Woodstock festival was held near Rome, New York. This site was 200 miles (320 km) from the original event’s site and attracted +/- 400,000 people.

88. Woodstock ’99 featured performances by Vertical Horizon, Insane Clown Posse, James Brown, Jamiroquai, Live, Sheryl Crow, The Offspring, Korn, Bush, Moby, Everclear, The Chemical Brothers, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morisette, Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Fatboy Slim, Collective Soul, Megadeth, Everlast, Jewel, Creed, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.

89. The first edition of UItra Music Festival was hosted in 1999 in Miami, Florida.

Ultra Music Festival 2018

90. Ultra Music Festival was a 1-day festival from 1999 to 2006, a two-day festival from 2007 to 2010 and is now a 3 day festival. The festival now attracts +/- 165,000 people every year.

91. Ultra Music Festival was held over two weekends in 2013 and attracted 330,000 people.

92. Besides Miami, Ultra Music Festival has also been hosted in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Seoul (South Korea), Singapore, Tokyo, Hvar (Croatia), Split (Croatia), Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota (Colombia) and other destinations around the world.

93. The first edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held at the festival site in Indio, California in 1999.

94. Coachella started out as a two-day event, but was permanently extended to 3 days in 2007. In 2012 Coachella organisers extended the festival to cover 2 consecutive 3 day weekends (featuring the same line-ups) to cope with ticket demands.

95. More than 250,000 people attended Coachella in 2017.

96. Beyonce became the first black woman to headline a festival when she performed at Coachella in 2018.

97. Bonnaroo Music Festival has been held on a farm near Manchester, Tennessee since 2002. It attracts 80,0000 people every year.

98. The Beastie Boys performed their last show at Bonnaroo Festival in 2009.

99. The area used up by Bonnaroo Music Festival is equal to 375 football fields. That’s 10 times more than the NFL (in case you were wondering).

SXSW Music Festival

100. SXSW (South By South West) Music Festival is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 2,000 acts as of 2014. The festival is held in Austin, Texas.

101. Lollapalooza was originally conceived and created as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction in 1991. It was re-conceptualized in 2003.

Well, there you have it, 101 Interesting music festival facts you may not have known. I hope that you feel informed now. If you have anything interesting to add, feel free to comment below. If you enjoyed reading this post, feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.

Looking for something else to read? Check out this collection of South African Music facts.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


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