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The Worlds's Biggest Music Festivals

The World's Biggest Music Festivals

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Festivals have become synonymous with summer, attracting thousands of music fans - tents in tow - and lining up the biggest rock and pop stars.  The biggest are in Europe, where many music fans go on an annual pilgrimage to their preferred festival. We've assembled the 20 biggest by attendance.

Glastonbury Glastonbury, UK Attendance: 175,000 per day

Photo: Redferns

The festival began the day after Jimi Hendrix died in 1970. Attendance was 1,500 and entry was £1 including free milk from the farm. In 2010, more than 175,000 festival goers attended each of the three days it was held. Heavy downpours have become synonymous with the festival, at which model Kate Moss has been photographed in hotpants and Wellington boots. News of Michael Jackson's death reached the crowd and tributes celebrated his music throughout the weekend in 2009. 2011 tickets have already sold out.

RoskildeRoskilde, Denmark Attendance: 110,000 per day

Fans react as Danish band Kasper Spez performs on July 3, 2010, at the Roskilde Festival, some 30 kms west of Copenhagen. Some 150 acts are performing before an audience of 75.000 festival goers at the four day festival culminating on July 5, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ Jens Dige / ROCKPHOTO/SCANPIX (Photo credit should read JENS DIGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Now a four-day festival preceded by a four-day “warm-up”, attendance at Roskilde swelled from around 25,000 when it first started in 1971 to 71,000 all-week tickets and 4,000 one-day tickets in 2010. Bob Marley played at Roskilde Festival in 1978, U2 in 1982, Metallica in 1986 and Radiohead in 1997. 1975 saw Swedish bikers spend Friday night lighting big bonfires and ploughing the neighbors’ strawberry fields on their motorcycles. Kings of Leon is among this year’s highlights.

WerchterWerchter, Belgium, Attendance: 110,000 per day

BELGIUM - JUNE 30: BELGIUM Photo of KRAFTWERK, Kraftwerk, Belgie, Werchterrock, Werchter, 30 juni 2005, Pop, electro, tegen een meters hoge video projectie op de, achtergrond van de song "Computer Welt" bedienen de, vier bandleden van Kraftwerk hun computers tijdens, het concert in Werchter in Belgie (Photo by Peter Pakvis/Redferns)
Photo: Redferns

Set up in 1975 on the grounds of a local youth movement in Werchter, Belgium, attendance was more 100,000 by 1984 when the festival was a double act, twinned with the town of Torhout. From 2000, the festival returned to just one location, Werchter, attracting 80,000 people on each of the four days it was hosted in 2010 and a further 30,000 one-day visitors.

Rock al ParqueBogota, Colombia Attendance: 88,600 per day

Claudio Quarta, guitarist of the German group Haggard, performs during the "Rock al Parque" festival on its opening day in Bogota, Colombia, on June 27, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Rafa SALAFRANCA (Photo credit should read RAFA SALAFRANCA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Rock al Parque, South America’s largest rock music festival attracted crowds of 266,000 over three days in 2010. The festival, held in Bogota, Columbia celebrates rock music from all over Latin America and is renowned for hosting local rock bands and promoting Colombian rock music.

T in the ParkKinross, ScotlandAttendance: some 85,000 per day

KINROSS, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 11: Festival goers endure the rain and mud on the third day of T In The Park Festival at Balado on July 11, 2010 in Kinross, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Gilmore/Redferns)
Photo: Redferns

Scotland’s biggest and most successful outdoor music event is now more than four times its original size. The festival was launched in 1994. Tickets for the 2011 edition have sold out. Fancy dress Friday has become a tradition at the festival and sees the weird and wacky come out to play in a range of different outfits.

ExitNovi Sad, Serbia Attendance: 75,000 per day

NOVI SAD, SERBIA - JULY 08: Festival goers cheer at Day 1 of the Exit Festival on July 8, 2010 in Novi Sad, Serbia. (Photo by REBEL Media/Getty Images)
Photo:Getty Images

Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city hosts this annual festival at its Petrovaradin fortress. The fortress, built between 1692 and 1790, and its surrounding land is flooded with 250,000 to 350,000 people every year over the course of four days.

CoachellaIndio, California, USAAttendance: 75,000 per day

COACHELLA, CA - APRIL 18: Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo performs on day 3 of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2010 on April 18, 2010 in Coachella, California. (Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns)
Photo: Redferns

This festival which takes place in California saw 225,000 attendees over 3 days in 2010, the biggest ever event in its 11-year history. It covers a range of musical genres from mainstream artists to alternative musicians.

Reading/Leeds FestivalReading and Leeds, UK Attendance: 75,000 per day

LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 28: General view of the Main Stage during the second day of Leeds Festival on August 28, 2010 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)
Photo: Redferns

Concerts are held simultaneously in Reading and Leeds, England, with both festivals sharing the same bill. The Reading Festival, the original leg of the two, has been going since 1961 when it was a jazz event. Nirvana performed at the festival in 1992. Attendance at Reading was 87,000 on each of the three days, while Leeds saw 75,000 festival-goers on each of the three days.

Sziget Budapest, HungaryAttendance: 65,000 per day

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - AUGUST 12: Festival goers enter the Obudai island at Day 2 of The Sziget Festival on August 12, 2010 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by REBEL Media/Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images

This six-day music festival in Budapest, Hungary, started in 1993 and saw 390,000 visitors in 2010. This year, British band Pulp will be among headliners, as well as the Chemical Brothers and heavy metal band Motörhead. The festival has its very own “party train” to transport attendees from Amsterdam to Budapest, including DJs and champagne.

PukkelpopHasselt, Belgium Attendance: 62,500 per day

A fan participate in a crowd surfing during a concert on the first day of the Pukkelpop music festival, 16 August 2007 at the Kiewit site in Hasselt. AFP PHOTO/YORICK JANSENS-BELGA (Photo credit should read YORICK JANSENS/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Some 200 acts play on one of the 8 Pukkelpop stages in Kiewit, near the city of Hasselt in Belgium each year. The festival attracted 62,500 visitors on each of the days it was held in 2010. The festival hosts both big names and relatively unknown new talent. Iron Maiden, Queens of the Stone Age and The Prodigy were among big names playing at last year’s festival.

PinkpopLandgraaf, Netherlands Attendance: 60,000 per day

LANDGRAAF, NETHERLANDS - MAY 30: Fans enjoy the atmosphere on day 3 of the Pinkpop Festival on May 30, 2010 in Landgraaf, Netherlands. (Photo by Mark Venema/Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images

This festival is the Netherlands’ longest running and best known music festival. Staged at Landgraaf, south of Amsterdam, the festival hosts around 180,000 people across three days. Running for its 42nd year it will be held in June with 39 bands expected to appear across its three stages.

The Big Day OutKey Cities in Australia and New Zealand Attendance: 56,000 per day

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26: Heavy metal fans display their enthusiasm during the Deftones set at the Big Day Out Festival at the Sydney Showground on January 26, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
Photo: WireImage

The festival stops off at the key cities in Australia and New Zealand and attracted 337,248 revellers in Auckland, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, across the two-week period in 2010 – its highest figures since the event started in 1992.  The event is known for showcasing new talent, but also includes established music acts from around the world.

The Burning ManNevada, USAAttendance: some 50,000 per day

A citizen of Black Rock City dances around a bon fire after the fall of the "Burning Man", September 1, 2001 at the 16th annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nevada. An estimated record 29,000 people camped out on a remote desert playa, or dry lake, for the week-long counter-cultural celebration of art and "radical self-expression." This year's theme was the stages of man (Photo Keith D. Bedford) (Photo by Keith Bedford/WireImage)
Photo: WireImage

This annual art and temporary community project stages a week-long event in the desert in Nevada. It is not a traditional music festival with acts on a stage performing for fans. Instead, organizers describe the event as the creation of "Black Rock City’ " the name given to the temporary community. The festival takes place each year for a week prior to and including the Labor Day weekend. The Man – a wooden figure - is usually burned on the Saturday night before Labor day.

BonnarooTennessee, USAAttendance: 40,000 per day

Thomas Mars of Phoenix performs onstage during Bonnaroo 2010 at Which Stage on June 13, 2010 in Manchester, Tennessee.
Photo: FilmMagic

This music and arts festival is a Burning Man offshoot held in Tennessee in the US and regularly attracts around 80,000 fans.

Fuji RockNaebi Ski Resort, JapanAttendance: 40,000 per day

YUZAWA, JAPAN - JULY 29: Dance Techno group Chemical Brothers perform on stage on the third day of the Fuji Rock Festival at Naeba Ski Resort on July 29, 2007 in Yuzawa, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)
Photo: WireImage

Visitors flock to the Naeba ski resort in Japan to participate in the 3-day annual Fuji Rock festival which stages both Japanese and international bands. The festival has been cancelled for 2011 after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March.

HurricaneSchneessel, GermanyAttendance: some 40,000 per day

A festival visitor glides across a water slide at the 13th Hurricane Festival in Scheessel, northern Germany, on June 20, 2009. Sixty bands are scheduled to play during the three-day festival, which lasts until June 21. AFP PHOTO DDP/ NIGEL TREBLIN GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s Hurricane festival is an annual rockfest staged at Scheessel, northern Germany. It runs for three days and is attended by around 40,000 visitors a day. Foo Fighters, The Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian are among this year’s line-up.

DownloadDonington Park, UK Attendance: 37,000 per day

DONINGTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: General view of fans on Day 3 of Download Festival on June 13, 2010 in Donington, England. (Photo by Christie Goodwin/Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images

Arguably the festival most dedicated to rock, this three-day festival held at Donington Park in England last year hosted AC/DC, Aerosmith and former Guns ‘n Roses guitarist Slash in 2010. About 111,000 people attended the festival in 2010.

BenicassimBenicassim, SpainAttendance: 32,000 per day

BENICASSIM, SPAIN - JULY 19: A general view of people relaxing on day 4 of the International Festival of Beincassim on July 19, 2009 in Benicassim, Spain. The Festival on the Spanish coast is celebrating its 15th birthday and is expecting to play host to 200,000 people over four days. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)
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An annual four-day music event held in Benicassim on the east coast of Spain between Valencia and Barcelona. The event usually includes well established music acts as well as alternative and new music acts playing their first-ever festival. About 127,000 people attended the festival in 2010.

Wireless FestivalLondon, UKAttendance: 15,000 - 20,000

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Slash performs on stage during the final day of Wireless Festival 2010 in Hyde Park on July 4, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns)
Photo: Redferns

The Wireless festival takes place at London’s Hyde Park and showcases some of the biggest names in music over three days. Some 15,000-20,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event.

Essaouira Gnaoua FestivalEssaouira, MoroccoAttendance: 125,000 per day (attendance free)

A Moroccan Gnaoua group performs at the 13th World Music festival in the southwestern city of Essaouira on June 27, 2010. AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA (Photo credit should read FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Essaouira Gnaoua Festival is held annually in Morocco in the port resort of Essaouira and is known as one of Morocco’s leading festivals. The festival celebrates the music of the Gnaoua’s combining African rhythms with Islamic rituals, with up to 500,000 visitors every year over four days. Numbers are boosted by the fact that many of the performances can be viewed for free, which complicates comparison with other festivals.