You miss the sweat on your brow because the crowd is so heaving. People are ecstatic just like you. Together you feel the music lift you. This is the power of music. This is the unique experience of a music festival.
A music festival with more than 3 million attendees is not necessarily the best in the world, but we can all agree there’s something powerful about it. In this article we’ve listed the top 10 biggest festivals in the world – so you can pull out the glitter and enjoy.
10. Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas)
Electric Daisy Carnival, also known as EDC, is the largest electronic dance music festival in North America. It is now held in May, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and in Orlando.
Electronic dance producers and DJs such as Armin van Buuren, Calvin Harris, Diplo, Alesso, Dillon Francis, Martin Garrix, Zedd, Afrojack, Seven Lions, NGHTMRE, Yellow Claw, and Ti*sto will perform at the event. Electronic music is featured at the festival, including house, techno, drum and bass, and dubstep. Corona, Smirnoff, Uber and Tinder sponsored the most recent EDC events.
The event was expanded to two days in 2009, and to three days in 2011, attracting 230,000 attendees. Over three days in 2015, it attracted more than 400,000 people (134,000 per day). The festival expanded to include an on-site camping experience in 2018. Festivals in recent years have featured eight stages, each with a unique set and genre of EDM. The event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway consists of 18 carnival rides, four ferris wheels, and a staff of more than 5,000 people.
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA When: Annually in June Attendance: 400,000 in 2016
9. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
A celebration of local music and culture, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is held annually at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisiana. Every year, thousands of people flock to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (NPO), the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc. was established in 1970.
For the first time in Jazz Fest’s fifty-year history, the two-week festival was canceled in 2020 due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally scheduled for October 8-17, 2021, but was later canceled. After a two-year hiatus, it resumed in 2022.
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA When: Annually at the end of April Attendance: 425,000 in 2016
Essence Festival, known as “the party with a purpose”, is an annual music festival that began in 1995 as a one-off celebration of Essence, a magazine aimed at African-American women. The festival became the largest African-American cultural and musical event in the United States.
Since 1995, it has taken place in New Orleans, Louisiana, except in 2006 when it was moved to Houston, Texas because of Hurricane Katrina’s effects on New Orleans, and in 2020 when it was cancelled. In 2016, it was also held in Durban, South Africa. On a main stage, as well as four superlounge stages, artists perform simultaneously.
COVID-19 was to blame for the cancellation of the event in 2020; the 26th is essentially postponed to 2021.
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA When: Annually at the end of June Attendance: 450,000 in 2016
The Sziget Festival (Hungarian: Sziget Fesztivál, pronounced [*si**t f*stiv-a*l]; “Sziget” implies an island), is one of the largest music and culture festivals in Europe. This festival is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on the 108-hectare (266-acre) Old Buda Island, a leafy island on the Danube. Thousands of performances are held every year.
In 1997, total attendance surpassed 250,000, and in 2016, it reached 440,000. This record was broken in 2019 when 565,000 attendees attended the festival.
Where: Budapest, Hungary When: Annually in August Attendance: 496,000 in 2016
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (commonly called Coachella or just Coachella) is an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, in the Coachella Valley. Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen co-founded it in 1999, and Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of AEG Presents, organizes it.
Musicians from many different genres will perform at the event, including rock, pop, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music, as well as art installations and sculptures. On multiple stages, there will be live music all day long.
From 2013 to 2015, Coachella set new records for attendance and revenue each year. The 2017 festival attracted 250 000 attendees and generated $114.6 million in revenue.
Where: Indio, California, USA When: Annually in April Attendance: 594,000 in 2017
5. Rock In Rio
This is a long running music festival held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Later, it expanded to other cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Las Vegas.
With 1.5 million attendees for the first event, 700,000 attending the second and fourth, about 1.2 million attending the third, and about 350,000 attending each of the three Lisbon shows, Rock in Rio is one of the largest music festivals in the world.
Live Nation Entertainment acquired a majority stake in the festival in May 2018 (including from prior stakeholder SFX Entertainment), with Medina continuing to run the festival operations. Live Nation stated that it intended to “intergrate their industry expertise” into their overall business strategy.
Where: Rio de Janiero, Brazil When: When: Every second year. 2017, 2019 and so on. Attendance: 700,000 in 2015
4. Woodstock (Poland)
Woodstock Festival Poland, formerly known as the Poly’and’Rock Festival (Polish: Przystanek Woodstock, “Woodstock Station”; English-language materials often referred to it as Woodstock Festival Poland) is an annual free rock music festival in Poland inspired by the Woodstock festival. Since 1995, the festival has been held.
In 2009, Woodstock Festival Poland drew an attendance of over 400,000 people, in 2011, it reached over 700,000 people, in 2012 it reached about 550,000 people, in 2013 about 500,000 and in 2014, it hit a record high of about 750,000 people. A total of 750,000 people attended the festival in 2019, making it one of the largest music festivals in the world.
Where: Kostrzyn nad Odra, Poland When: Annually in August Attendance: 750,000 in 2014
The Summerfest music festival is held in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, every year. Summerfest, which was first held in 1968, takes place at Henry Maier Festival Park, adjacent to Lake Michigan and Milwaukee’s central business district.
Summerfest attracts approximately 800,000 people each year. It was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest music festival in 1999. However, Donauinselfest has exceeded Summerfest in attendance with over 3 million in 2015.
From late June until early July (including the Fourth of July), the 75-acre (30-hectare) park hosts performances over 11 days. There are 12 stages and over 1000 performances. From noon to midnight, local and national musicians will perform throughout the grounds, including the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which can hold 23,000 people.
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA When: Annually in late June to early July Attendance: 804,000 in 2016
Mawmazine is a Moroccan international music festival held annually in Rabat, Morocco, featuring both international and local music artists. Mawazine is organized by the Moroccan cultural foundation Maroc Culture, under the leadership of Mounir Majidi, the personal secretary of Moroccan King Mohammed VI and founder and president of Maroc Culture.
An estimated 2.5 million people attended the 2013 festival, making Mawazine the second-largest festival in the world after Donauinselfest in Vienna. The festival has the highest attendance per stage in the world with 90 acts on 7 stages.
Where: Rabat, Morocco When: Annually in May Attendance: 2.65 million in 2015
Luminaries such as Mozart have lived in Vienna in the past, so it’s no surprise the city now hosts the world’s largest music festival. Donauinselfest was held on an island in the middle of the Danube in 2016, attracting over 3.1 million visitors.
Every year, it takes place at the start of summer in the open air. Featuring more than 200 acts on 11 stages, there is a huge variety of music, and in 2017, one of the headliners is a tribute to music legend Falco.
Where: Vienna, Austria When: Annually in June Attendance: 3.1 million in 2016