Making the trek to catch a major music festival can be the highlight of any long summer. Millions of music fans across a variety of genres make their yearly pilgrimages in order to catch some great live tunes, use some seriously overworked porta-potties, and, if they’re lucky, have a topless girl sit on their shoulders.
Sound like fun? Well then here are some of the largest, most riotous music festivals of the smoldering 2011 summer season. (If you can think of other worthwhile shows that I’ve omitted, please share them in the comments section.)
Coachella (April 15th – 17th)
In the middle of the brutal California dessert, there is a rock oasis that goes by the name Coachella. Celebrating 12 years of showcasing the biggest acts in music, Coachella has become one of the biggest festivals in the U.S. with over 220,000 attendees at last year’s show.
Not just aurally pleasing, the concert site also features interactive art works and captivating displays. The festival promoters are also making attempts to reduce the show’s carbon footprint by offering special prizes to groups of 4 or more who carpool. (But keep in mind the average temperature is 100 degrees in the shade so pack LOTS of deodorant). This year the Strokes, Kanye West, and Arcade Fire (along with a hundred more major acts) will light up the festival’s five major stages.
Bonnaroo (June 9th – 12th)
Named one of the “50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Bonnaroo is one of the largest and most musically diverse festivals in the United States. Held on a farm in Manchester, Tennessee, Bonnaroo (which is Creole slang for “good stuff”) hosts major acts in genres from indie rock, hip hop, bluegrass, and Americana. Last year an estimated 80,000 people attended the four-day multi-stage festival.
The festival sprawls out, creating a 100-acre city that includes a comedy tent, beer festival, carnival rides, and even a nightly silent disco which allows patrons to dance the night away to synched up headphones while not violating local noise-ordinances. (How considerate.)
Glastonbury (June 22nd – 26th)
Like Pete Sampras, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts (or just Glastonbury) is the greatest thing on grass. With over 175,000 music fans every year, Glastonbury has had a tradition of bringing the hippest acts in pop music for over 40 years.
Memorable musical performances aside, festival goers can usually expect the Pilton, UK weather to turn sour. Torrential rains turn the festival grounds into a 900-acre mud pit, which is part of the fun. So far U2, Coldplay, and Beyonce are confirmed acts for this year, along with hundreds of other acts to fill the 45 stages.
Roskilde (June 30th – July 3rd)
The site of many concerts by musical legends (Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan), Roskilde is one of the most important music festivals in Europe. Taking place in Roskilde, Denmark, the Roskilde festival is host to a wide spectrum of contemporary music. If you’re not a huge fan of up and coming Scandinavian music (I mean who isn’t?), then perhaps you could just listen to some of the big English-speaking acts such as Kings of Leon, M.I.A., Big Boi, and Iron Maiden. (While rocking out with beautiful Scandinavian women…)
An all-day live radio station and a daily circulating newspaper (assuming you read Dutch), keeps the nearly 90,000 attendees abreast of the day’s happenings. Make sure to get your cross-trainers on and to manscape in preparation for the festival’s yearly “Naked Run”, where the winner gets tickets to next year’s show.
Wacken Open Air (August 4 – 8th)
As our very own Bachelor Guy and resident rock star can attest to, the Wacken Open Air is a raucous beacon to all that is Heavy Metal. Over 70,000 death/black/thrash/power/gothic/ticklish metal (I made that last one up), acolytes convene on the small hamlet of Wacken (pronounced “Vocken”)in northern Germany (population: 1800). Fans set up camps in order to watch the faces of metal’s Mount Rushmore, with appearances by the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, and Judas Priest.
Lollapalooza (August 5th – 7th)
Celebrating its 20th birthday this year, Lollapalooza is the place for nearly 200,000 mainstream music fans and members of the counter-culture to convene and party. (And, grab Lady Gaga as she crowd surfs, above.) Once a bastion of the alternative music scene in the 90’s, Lollapalooza began to include hip-hop and hard rock acts in a successful attempt to broaden its appeal. Originally a touring show, the festival found its permanent home at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois in 2005.
Industry insiders have Eminem, the Foo Fighters, and Muse as the show’s headliners this year. Not just for hard-hitting musical acts, the festival has also been a showcase for circus side shows, tattoo artists, exhibits, and political information booths.
Creamfields (August 27th – 28th)
If you prefer your music to have some thump, then perhaps you should make a trip to Creamfields. Creamfields is one of the most renowned electronic/dance music festivals in the world. Taking place in Daresbury, UK, Creamfields captivates its nearly 70,000 attendees with 9 stages of the most popular DJs and live acts. This year’s line-up includes the Chemical Brothers, Tiesto, and David Guetta. Just leave the pacifier and jester’s hat at home.
Rock in Rio (September 23rd – October 2nd)
So imagine if Woodstock had twice as many attendees, and instead of hairy, mud-caked hippies there was a whole bunch of absurdly hot Brazilian women… Wait a minute… *books flight to Rio De Janeiro*.
Rock in Rio is the largest music festival in the world, with an average of a million concert goers every time it’s been on. Taking place in “The City of Rock” (a specifically built area covering nearly 3 million square feet), this epic 10-day festival has been the site for many of rock’s most pivotal and shocking performances (like when Queen set the record for the highest paying audience for a performance, and the Queens of the Stone Age’s naked show). This year’s line-up includes Gun-N-Roses, Katy Perry, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Metallica.