Biggest Music Festivals on the Planet
Music festivals provide an experience like no other. For those who don't mind massive crowds, these events in major cities and small towns across the world pull together A-list acts, local food vendors, ample booze and even pyrotechnics to put on unforgettable shows.
The United States plays host to some of the world's most headline-grabbing festivals, but the biggest event, welcoming 3million revelers each year, takes place in Europe. (Coachella doesn't even crack the top 10.)
We've crunched the numbers to determine the biggest music festivals on Earth. Read on (and rock on) to discover if your favorite event made the cut.
45. Green Man Festival, United Kingdom
Number of attendees: 25,000
Where: Brecon Beacons
Fun fact: The festival has grown very quickly in popularity; its first year in 2003 welcomed just 300 attendees.
Note: All attendance data came from 2018 and 2019 numbers before the pandemic halted large-scale events.
The Experience: Green Man Festival
Despite a relatively modest capacity compared to others on this list, we included Green Man because it's a festival that manages to combine music with a host of other features, including art, poetry, literature and film. With all-night bonfires and secret gigs, it has taken the indie music festival scene to a whole new level.
Music-wise, the 2019 festival featured Four Tet, Father John Misty, Idles and Sharon Van Etten.
44. Let It Roll, Czechia
Number of attendees: 30,000
Fun fact: The festival added a "Beats Evolution Conference" to provide an intellectual element to the four-day event.
The Experience: Let It Roll
With more than 300 DJs and producers performing across nine stages, Let It Roll is beat heaven — and the biggest drum and bass festival in the world.
The festival’s opening show is a much-loved tradition, topping itself year after year with amazing displays of light, pyrotechnics and sound design.
43. Splendour in the Grass, Australia
Number of attendees: 35,000
Where: Byron Bay
Fun fact: The name of the event stems from the Wordsworth poem, “Ode: Imitations of Immorality,” not the 1961 film starring Natalie Wood.
The Experience: Splendour in the Grass
The coastal town of Byron Bay is known for many things, including its temperate weather, stellar culinary scene and the fact that Chris Hemsworth has a house there.
But perhaps its biggest claim to fame is its hosting of this iconic festival, which expertly mixes big-name acts with local up-and-comers.
42. NOS Alive, Portugal
Number of attendees: 55,000
Fun fact: The festival is the first in the world to offer pregnant women safe viewing spaces, featuring comfortable seating and on-call nurses nearby.
The Experience: NOS Alive
The fact that this festival is set just outside of Lisbon is one of many things it has going for it. It also offers free shuttle service to and from concert venues, extensive camping grounds and a swimming pool, among many other perks.
Plus, the headliners are always spectacular: the 2019 lineup included The Cure, The Smashing Pumpkins, Chemical Brothers, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend.
41. Harare International Festival of the Arts, Zimbabwe
Number of attendees: 60,000
When: Early May
Fun fact: The 2019 festival was canceled due to socio-economic issues, marking the second time the event had been canceled in its 20-year history (the first being in 2015).
The Experience: Harare International Festival of the Arts
Since launching in 1999, Harare has become the biggest arts festival in Africa, combining music, art, literature and more to celebrate the continent’s dynamic culture.
Afro-pop singer Salif Keita from Mali and Zimbabwean star Hope Masike are just a few of the prominent names associated with the festival.
40. Boomtown Fair, United Kingdom
Number of attendees: 66,000
Fun fact: The 2019 event’s theme was “Chapter 11 - A Radical City.” Can it get any cooler than that?
The Experience: Boomtown Fair
Boomtown Fair was summarized best by “TimeOut,” when the publication pointed out that it isn’t just a music festival, “it is a whole alternate reality.” Each annual edition of the festival is dubbed a “chapter” and comes with a different theme.
There is some form of escapism, however bizarre, for everyone — from secret hotels to hide-and-seek trails, the event makes it hard to distinguish reality from fantasy.
39. Pentaport Rock Festival, South Korea
Number of attendees: 76,000
Fun fact: The name “Pentaport” comes from the five (penta) main themes of the festival — music, passion, environment friendly, DIY, and friendship.
The Experience: Pentaport Rock Festival
Pentaport Rock is one of Asia’s biggest and best festivals.
Previous headliners have included Stereophonics, Dua Lipa and Scorpions.
38. Bonnaroo Music Festival, United States
Number of attendees: 80,000
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
Fun fact: In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the festival as one of the "50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll."
The Experience: Bonnaroo
"Bonnaroo" is Creole slang that means "a really good time" — and that's exactly what the founders wanted to create in this music festival.
While other American music festivals were becoming popularized in the early 2000s, Bonnaroo was the one that did it the best, with multiple accolades from the music industry, dubbing it "the culmination of a musical movement" on par with the days of Woodstock.
36. CMA Fest, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees: 90,000
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
Fun fact: Each year, the festival donates half its proceeds to charity.
The Experience: CMA Fest
Since its inception in 1972, when it was known as Fan Fair, CMA Fest has been considered a pillar of country music culture. In addition to hours of concerts, it touts meet-and-greet sessions with artists.
The 2019 lineup included everyone from Carrie Underwood to Billy Currington to Uncle Kracker. It’s no wonder "Billboard" called it 'the gold standard" when it comes to country music festivals.
36. Way Out West, Sweden (Tie)
Number of attendees: 90,000
Fun fact: The festival is held in a sprawling 338-acre park called Slottsskogen, which means “Castle Forest.”
The Experience: Way Out West
You know how, when the party’s over, you go to after-hour clubs? Well, at Way Out West, when the festival gigs for the day are over, you go to the after-hours gigs — what the festival organizers call “Stay Out West.”
So basically, you enjoy yourself by listening to music throughout the day and then, when that’s done, you do the same thing, but at a different venue. Not a bad deal, right? Especially when the lineup includes everyone from Cardi B to The Cure.
35. Queensland Music Festival, Australia
Number of attendees: 100,000
Where: Brisbane, Queensland
Fun fact: At the 2019 festival, The Mount Isa Blast “theatrical spectacular” was truly wild; in addition to featuring mass choirs and a full symphony, there was a motocross, livestock and, um, bobcats.
The Experience: Queensland Music Festival
A three-week festival, the Queensland Music Festival has been a biennial fixture of Australia’s cultural calendar since it started in 1999. Staged in several locations across Queensland, the festival aims to promote and introduce the community to music.
To date, performers have come from a wide range of social and musical backgrounds and performed everywhere from gardens to hospitals.
The 2019 festival featured Jessie Lloyd, Archie Roach, Ball Park Music, DZ Deathrays, and Tia Gostelow.
34. Fuji Rock, Japan
Number of attendees:125,000
Where: Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture
Fun fact: The festival had quite the auspicious debut; in its first year, it was struck by a typhoon. Some concert-goers needed medical treatment for hypothermia, but the headlining Red Hot Chili Peppers, in true rock-god form, soldiered on through a 45-minute set as the storm raged.
The Experience: Fuji Rock
This annual event held at a ski resort in the town of Yuzawa, just two hours away from Tokyo, has been going strong since 1997, when for logistical reasons it was actually held at the base of Mount Fuji (hence the festival's name).
Featuring a solid mix of both Japanese and international artists, headline acts who have performed here include Bob Dylan, Gorillaz and Bjork. The 2019 lineup included Chemical Brothers, Jason Mraz and The Cure.
33. Sónar Festival, Spain
Number of attendees: 126,000
Fun fact: Apart from the flagship festival in Barcelona, satellite events have popped up in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Reykjavik and Istanbul.
The Experience: Sónar Festival
Technically an arts, design and music festival — it is officially called The International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art — Sónar is a highbrow event that’s become synonymous with fresh electronic music in recent years.
Big names at past festivals included A$AP Rocky and Vince Staples.
31. Vive Latino, Mexico (Tie)
Number of attendees: 135,000
Where: Mexico City
Fun fact: In 2019, Vive Latino celebrated its 20th anniversary, cementing its status as a Latin American institution.
The Experience: Vive Latino
One of the biggest festivals celebrating Latin American and Spanish music from around the world, this genre-spanning bash showcases an eclectic mix of rock, pop, ska and reggae.
31. Osheaga, Canada (Tie)
Number of attendees: 135,000
Where: Montreal, Quebec
Fun fact: In 2018, a university student filed a class-action lawsuit against the festival’s organizer because the headlining act, Travis Scott, was an hour late getting on stage. The student explained that she’d saved up money to go just so she could see Scott, and said she ended up leaving before he appeared because she assumed he’d never show up.
The Experience: Osheaga
Just before colleges on the island of Montreal reopen their doors for the fall term, Osheaga offers a last hurrah at the tail-end of summer. Osheaga is an indie music festival that takes place annually in Parc Jean-Drapeau and holds the distinction of being Canada’s biggest music festival. Headliners who have performed here in the past include Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, James Bay and Lorde.
The festival's popularity is soaring, so one can expect it to move further up this list in the coming years; Osheaga reached its maximum capacity of 45,000 people per day for each of its three days in 2018 and increased its limit to 65,000 people per day in 2019.
30. Nuit Sonores, France
Number of attendees: 140,000
When: Early June
Fun fact: Like Spain and Portugal’s Primavera Sound, found later on this list, Nuit Sonores has been pushing for gender equality with its musical acts, welcoming many women DJs to perform.
The Experience: Nuit Sonores
An annual music festival spread over four nights, Nuit Sonores is one of the most respected electronic music festivals in the world.
This is largely due to the guest curators invited by the festival organizers to create the festival’s lineups; past participants have included Bonobo and Four Tet.
29. Rock Werchter, Belgium
Number of attendees: 149,500
When: First weekend in July
Fun fact: Rock Werchter received the International Live Music Conference's award for best festival in the world in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2014.
The Experience: Rock Werchter
As you'll see on this list, Belgium is known for big music festivals. This one started in 1974 as a one-day event but has quickly turned into a massive attraction for the country, drawing in thousands of international tourists.
That said, it's still the smallest of the other Belgium music festivals mentioned on our list.
26. The Governors Ball Music Festival, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees: 150,000
Where: Randall’s Island, New York
When: Early June
Fun fact: The inaugural edition of the festival was held on Governors Island, which is where it got its name. While that island no longer hosts the bash, it still makes for an excellent off-the-beaten-path attraction, with easy ferry access and beautiful park space.
The Experience: The Governors Ball Music Festival
The Governors Ball is a multi-genre festival that draws revelers from throughout New York City and beyond. With the New York skyline as its backdrop, it’s easy to see the festival’s appeal.
The 2019 lineup included Florence + The Machine and Lil Wayne.
26. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, Germany (Tie)
Number of attendees: 150,000
Where: Nürberg and Nuremberg
Fun fact: The festivals gained international popularity in the 1990s when MTV began broadcasting some of their headlining performances.
The Experience: Rock am Ring and Rock im Park
As sister festivals, the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park concerts often feature similar acts. So, in theory, you could go watch your favorite artist in Nürberg first and then watch them again at Nuremberg — an ideal scenario for superfans.
The 2019 lineup included Bastille and The Smashing Pumpkins.
26. National Folk Festival, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees: 150,000
Where: Salisbury, Maryland
When: Late August or early September
Fun fact: In 1938, Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in moving the festival to Washington, D.C. Here, “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy famously played his first performance on a desegregated stage.
The Experience: The National Folk Festival
Dubbed a "national folk festival with local flavor," the National Folk Festival is essentially an annual three-day party that travels the country. It's been held in several cities over the decades, beginning in St. Louis in 1934.
Over 300 artists perform at this festival that aims to "present the arts of many nations, races and languages on equal footing." Other activities for visitors include storytelling, music workshops and beer tasting.
25. South by Southwest, United States
Number of attendees: 161,000 (musical attendance only)
Where: Austin, Texas
Fun fact: The hit films “Furious 7,” “Bridesmaids,” “Cabin in the Woods” and “21 Jump Street” all premiered at the festival.
The Experience: South by Southwest
Though the jury is still out as to whether or not this pop-culture phenom is really a music festival, since it offers so much more (including basically being a massive film convention), South by Southwest hosts enough superb music acts every year to feel worthy of inclusion.
The festival’s film screenings and multimedia events can be considered icing on the cake.
24. Ultra Music Festival, United States
Number of attendees: 165,000
Where: Miami, Florida
Fun fact: Maybe the festival is a little too fun; Miami terminated its contract to host the festival due to complaints of noise and too much partying. But the city couldn't keep it away for too long, with reports of it coming back in 2022.
The Experience: Ultra Music Festival
Ultra Music Festival, named after a Depeche Mode album of the same name, has been a beloved electronic-music extravaganza since 1999. It's been increasing in size since it started and expanded to several international franchises over the years, from Ibiza to South Korea.
Famous figures who have performed here include Armin van Buuren, Avicii, Afrojack, David Guetta and Tiësto.
22. Primavera Sound, Spain and Portugal (Tie)
Number of attendees: 175,000
Where: Barcelona and Porto
Fun fact: After its 2001 debut in Poble Espanyol, a museum of architecture, the festival moved to the seafront at Parc del Forum in 2005, where it is hosted today.
The Experience: Primavera Sound
Dubbed the "kick off to the European festival season" by "TimeOut," the fact that this festival is hosted in two countries makes it a one-of-a-kind Euro trip music party. What’s more, in 2019, the festival showcased an even split in genders in its musical lineup — a spokesperson for the festival told "The Guardian," "We need to change the 'pale, male and stale’ paradigm.' And they did.
Acts who graced the stage included FKA Twigs, Robyn, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen and Miley Cyrus.
22. Glastonbury, United Kingdom (Tie)
Number of attendees: 175,000
Where: Pilton, Somerset, Great Britain
Fun fact: Festival organizer Michael Eavis has long sought to make political activism part of the festival. In the 1980s, the event was organized in conjunction with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; more recently, in 2017, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn was invited to take to the stage.
The Experience: Glastonbury
Glastonbury is a five-day event that’s regarded as one of the U.K.’s most important cultural events. The festival is not annual on account of "fallow years," with the break varying depending on the condition of the farmland.
The upside: This helps the ground and the town recover from the sudden influx of tourists. Artists who have taken to the stage include David Bowie, the Arctic Monkeys and Adele.
The 2019 lineup included The Cure, The Killers, Stormzy, Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson.
20. Pukkelpop, Belgium (Tie)
Number of attendees: 180,000
When: Mid to late August
Fun fact: The first year of this mega rock festival had only 3,000 attendees.
The Experience: Pukkelpop
One of the largest music festivals in Belgium, this one is known for featuring a wide variety of music genres, including rock, pop, electronic, heavy metal and hip hop, with everyone from Nirvana to Rihanna to Bjork having performed in the past.
Believe it or not, "pukkel" is the Dutch word for "pimple."
20. Nova Rock, Austria (Tie)
Number of attendees: 180,000
Fun fact: Eco-conscious attendees can enjoy “green camping,” pitching a tent in a campsite that’s completely self-regulating.
The Experience: Nova Rock
Held annually beneath towering wind turbines, Nova Rock is one of Europe’s biggest rock festivals, a rollicking gathering of punk, metal and hard rock icons.
Previous headliners have included The Cure, Slipknot and The Smashing Pumpkins.
19. Airbeat One Festival, Germany
Number of attendees: 195,000
Fun fact: Known for its pyrotechnics, the 2019 festival featured fireworks that lit up the main stage, designed to look like the Taj Mahal.
The Experience: Airbeat One
Arguably Europe's best-known electronic music festival, Airbeat One also happens to be one of the longest-running dance music festivals in the continent.
The festival lasts four days, and each year has a theme. Case in point: the Indian theme in 2019 inspired the Taj Mahal design for the main stage. In 2022, La Dolce Vita was the theme, with a stage designed to look like the Milan Cathedral.
18. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, United States
Number of attendees: 200,000
Where: San Francisco, California
Fun fact: It should come as no surprise that this Bay Area festival is uber eco-friendly; performers even rock out on solar-powered stages. For the 2019 festival, Paul Simon donated all his fees to environmental nonprofits.
The Experience: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
Held annually in Golden Gate Park, this San Francisco institution has been a wild success since it started in 2008. Since then, it has brought in some of the biggest names in music, including The Black Eyed Peas, Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon.
More than a music jam, the festival also serves up local artwork, a lecture series and a fabulous assortment of local food and booze.
17. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, United States
Number of attendees: 250,000
Where: Indio, California
Fun fact: This pop-culture phenom has its roots in a feud between Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster. In an effort to cut out the middleman and protest the ticket company’s exorbitant added fees, Pearl Jam hosted a concert at the Empire Polo Club in 1993 and charged its own price. The success of the event proved that the club could serve as a viable host to large-scale music events, opening the door to Coachella’s debut a few years later.
The Experience: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Coachella started in 1999, took a brief break in 2000 and has continued delighting audiences from 2001 to today. It's not only a music and art event but a fashion movement, too, with magazines, celebrities and influencers alike paying specific attention to the looks featured here to determine what’s next in fashion.
The 2019 lineup included Tame Impala, Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino.
16. Festival d’été de Québec, Canada
Number of attendees: 325,000
Where: Quebec City
Fun fact: The "Pop-Up FEQ" series stages shows with surprise guests, using social media to provide clues and stoke curiosity.
The Experience: Festival d’été de Québec
Music-lovers of all stripes can find something to love at this rollicking festival that, in the past, has featured artists ranging from Mariah Carey and Blink-182 to Neil Young and Lynryd Skynyrd.
15. Exit, Serbia
Number of attendees: 350,000
Where: Novi Sad, Vojvodina
Fun fact: In true rock 'n' roll form, Exit was born of rebellion; it has its roots in morale-boosting concerts held by student activists protesting Serbian president Slobodan Miloševic during the Yugoslav wars.
The Experience: Exit
Held in an 18th-century fortress called "Peterovaradin," Exit is a multi-genre music festival that started in 2000. The European Festival Awards regularly names it the “Best Major Festival,” and it has garnered acclaim from BBC, CNN and The New York Times. Everyone from The Cure and Lily Allen to Ellie Goulding and M.I.A. have performed here.
Apart from headlining acts held on the mainstage in the heart of the fortress, the Dance Arena hosts electronic artists who play from dusk, through the night, until dawn. The Dance Arena can accommodate over 25,000 people, making for a truly epic dance party.
14. Untold Festival, Romania
Number of attendees:355,000
Where: Cluj Napoca
Fun fact: Untold came out of the gate hot; it was awarded the "Best Major Festival" title at the European Festival Awards its debut year.
The Experience: Untold Festival
Since debuting just a few short years ago, in 2015, Untold has evolved into one of the most coveted music festivals on the planet, featuring multi-genre artists at the top of their game.
Its 2019 lineup included A-listers such as Robbie Williams, Busta Rhymes and David Guetta.
11. Tomorrowland, Belgium (Tie)
Number of attendees: 400,000
Where: Boom, Antwerp
Fun fact: In 2017, at a Tomorrowland spin-off event in Spain, 22,000 people had to be evacuated due to a fire. On social media, a concert-goer explained that the stage "just exploded." (Festival organizers were more sanguine, calling it a "technical malfunction.") Thankfully, it didn't lead to any deaths or serious injuries.
The Experience: Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland is a one-of-a-kind electronic dance music (EDM) festival. Tickets for it are exceptionally hard to come by and typically sell out within minutes of going on sale.
Over the final two weekends of July, 400,000 people gather in sunny Boom, a small Belgian town with a population of less than 18,000, to enjoy the music of everyone from Armin van Buuren and The Chainsmokers to David Guetta and Tiesto.
Satellite events have taken place in countries around the world, including Lebanon, Spain, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Malta.
11. Lollapalooza, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees:400,000
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Fun fact: Farrell chose the festival’s name after hearing it in a Three Stooges film. The archaic word means (aptly) "extraordinarily impressive."
The Experience: Lollapalooza
Launched by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell to host his band’s farewell tour, Lollapalooza has since become one of the most well-known music events in the world.
Between its debut year in 1991 and 1997, its headlining acts included Metallica, The Prodigy and The Orb. After a six-year break, the festival returned in 2003 and eventually found a permanent home in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Today, there are several international versions, too — from Chile and Brazil to Germany and France. The 2019 headliners included Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots and the Strokes.
11. Electric Daisy Carnival, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees:400,000
Where: Las Vegas
Fun fact: The festival’s Charitable Giving Initiative is as impressive as its music; since 2011, more than $2 million from ticket sales has been donated to worthy causes like Rock the Vote, Boys & Girls Club and the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.
The Experience: Electric Daisy Carnival
Shortened to EDC, the Electric Daisy Carnival is an electronic dance music festival that has featured genre A-listers like Armin van Buuren, Calvin Harris, Afrojack and perpetual festival performer Tiesto.
Also on tap? Interactive art installations, 3D glow-in-the-dark superstructures and rides located throughout the venue. No wonder it was named "Festival of the Year" at the Electronic Music Awards in 2017.
Today, the festival has locations in Mexico City, Tokyo, Shanghai and Orlando in addition to the flagship event in Las Vegas.
9. Austin City Limits, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees: 450,000
Where: Austin, Texas
Fun fact: Founded in 2002, ACL became so popular that it moved from a one-weekend to a two-weekend event in 2013.
The Experience: Austin City Limits
If you thought South by Southwest was big for Austin, think again. Austin City Limits sets up shop in Zilker Park every October for a two-weekend event that attracts almost half a million people.
The event's eight stages welcome a wide variety of musical genres from rock to indie to folk to electronic.
9. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, United States (Tie)
Number of attendees: 450,000
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: April and May
Fun fact: After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005, there were rumors that the April 2006 Jazz Fest would be canceled. But organizers pulled through, putting on an event that famously reunited and inspired locals during a dark time. Some 250,000 people attended that year.
The Experience: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
An annual festival of music and art, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (aka, Jazz Fest) is a celebration of "the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana."
The music represents the melange of cultural influences that have shaped N’awlins. The roster includes blues, R&B, bluegrass, Cajun, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean beats and much more.
And yes, po’boys and crawfish are also found in abundance.
8. Essence Music Festival, United States
Number of attendees: 470,000
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Fun fact: After Hurricane Katrina, Essence organizers couldn’t find a way to still host the event in New Orleans; 2006 was the only year it was held instead in Houston, Texas.
The Experience: Essence Music Festival
Another festival in the cultural oyster that is New Orleans, Essence is described as "the party with a purpose." It was launched in 1994, on the 25th anniversary of "Essence," a magazine for African American women, and went on to become an annual affair.
Today, it is the biggest celebration of African-American culture and music in the U.S. Artists who have performed here include Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys.
7. Sziget, Hungary
Number of attendees: 565,000
Fun fact: In 2007, the mayor of the 4th district of Budapest sued the festival’s organizers due to complaints of noise and disturbance. He was appeased when organizers agreed to shut down the main stage by 11 p.m. Another issue organizers have faced? People trying to crash the festival by swimming or paddling across the Danube.
The Experience: Sziget
With more than 1,000 performances each year, Sziget takes place on the island of Óbudai-sziget on the River Danube. Since its origin in 1993, the festival has grown considerably, from being a low-key student-aimed festival to a two-time winner of the "Best Major European Festival" title.
Big names who have graced the stage here include Prince, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Blur and D avid Guetta.
6. Rock in Rio, Brazil
Number of attendees: 700,000
Where: Rio de Janeiro
When: September and October
Fun fact: The first event in 1985 featured the Go-Go’s, who famously broke up right after the festival. They reunited a few years later.
The Experience: Rock in Rio
The birthplace of bossa nova is an appropriate place to host Rock in Rio, Brazil’s biggest music festival. Arguably the most iconic band to grace the Rock in Rio stage was Queen, back in 1985, when the festival first began.
Such was their influence that the first Rock in Rio was telecast from Brazil and watched by nearly 200 million people in over 60 countries, while a record 1.5 million people attended in person. Rock in Rio has been a standout festival ever since.
2019’s lineup included Drake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Imagine Dragons, Muse, Black Eyed Peas and The Foo Fighters.
5. Woodstock (Pol'and'Rock), Poland
Number of attendees: 750,000
Where: Kostrzyn and Odra
Fun fact: The first year the festival was held, alcohol was prohibited, a move that did not go over well with participants looking to party. The ban was lifted the following year, and the booze has been flowing ever since.
The Experience: Woodstock (Pol'and'Rock)
Inspired by the original Woodstock Festival and formerly known by that name, the rebranded Pol’and’Rock festival is one of the biggest open-air festivals in Europe.
Since its founding in 1995, the festival has also featured a collective mud bath, one of its most important (and, um, unique) traditions.
The 2019 lineup featured Ziggy Marley, Skunk Anansie and Crystal Fighters.
4. Summerfest, United States
Number of attendees: 830,000
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When: June and July
Fun fact: For a time in the late 1980s and into the '90s, organizers hosted a sister event, Winterfest. Not surprisingly considering Milwaukee’s brutal winters, it proved far less popular than its sunny counterpart and was canceled after a few years. But Milwaukee does host a small-scale, one-day version of the event still, featuring hot cocoa, sledding and crafts.
The Experience: Summerfest
An annual, 11-day festival on the shores of Lake Michigan, Summerfest has its roots in the '60s when Mayor Henry W. Maier saw the need for a festival after his visit to Munich for Oktoberfest.
Since then, the festival has become a behemoth — it was even named the world’s largest music festival, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, in 1999 (it has since been overtaken).
The 2019 lineup included Willie Nelson, Bon Iver, Counting Crows, Jennifer Lopez, Lionel Richie, The Killers, Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg.
The Experience: Montreal International Jazz Festival
Going strong since 1980, this festival offers yet another reason to visit the dynamic island-city of Montreal.
With a solid mixture of free and paid performances spread over 10 days, and 150 indoor performances, this is considered the world’s largest jazz festival by Guinness World Records.
2. Mawazine, Morocco
Number of attendees:2.5 million
Fun fact: Actually, this fact isn’t fun at all; in 2009, a wire fence collapsed, causing a stampede as concert-goers tried to flee. In the end, 11 people were killed.
The Experience: Mawazine
Featuring a diverse mix of both global and regional acts, Mawazine was started by the personal secretary to the King of Morocco as part of a cultural initiative to promote Rabat as a global city.
The week-long music festival, which features an eclectic mix of genres, has succeeded in putting the metropolis on the map.
The 2019 lineup included David Guetta, Future, J Balvin, Marshmello, Maluma and Kamasi Washington.
What's the Biggest Music Festival in the World? Donauinselfest, Austria
What's the Biggest Music Festival in the World? Donauinselfest
Number of attendees: 3 million
Fun fact: It was clear this festival would be a hit from its very first year. When it was initially held in 1983, organizers expected it to attract about 15,000 attendees. Instead, 160,000 people showed up!
The World's Most Popular Music Festival: Donauinselfest
Also called the "Danube Island Festival," Donauinselfest is the world’s biggest music festival. It takes place annually in Vienna on an island in the middle of the River Danube.
Train, Macy Gray, Amy MacDonald and Sean Paul are just a handful of the A-listers who have graced its stages.
The best part (and a big reason why it’s so wildly popular)? The festival is free.