The 14 Biggest Music Festivals in 2016
The music festival scene has boomed over the last decade. Audiences and capacity have grown, appeal has grown, and with it music festivals have become a ‘must have’ experience in the 21st Century.
For an entire weekend, thousands of people come together to celebrate live music. From jazz to rock, all the way to electronic dance, there are few musical genres not catered for. We bring you a list of the top music festivals hosted around the world in 2016, how best to find and prepare for them and even book and plan your private events group charter.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Where: Empire Polo Grounds, California, USA
Cost: $375 / Weekend pass
When: 15-24 April, 2016
Weather: Sunny, average of 94.5°F
Headliners: A$AP Rocky, Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding, Rae Sremmurd, Sia, Parov Stelar
Distance from closest town: 29 miles from Palm Springs
Due to a dispute between the band, Pearl Jam and the company, Ticketmaster in the 1990s, the band chose to play at a different location, and due to its huge success, the Coachella festival became an annual event, and one of the most popular music festivals to attend. Hosted in the middle of the desert, the festival features not only music, but also a showcase of visual art.
The Festival has been known to pull in massive crowds year after year. According to the ticket sales of 2015, 198 000 tickets were sold, making it one of the world’s largest music festivals. With past headliners such as AC/DC, Paul McCartney and Red Hot Chili Peppers it’s no wonder it has become so popular.
Where: Pilton, Somerset, England
Cost: $291.35 / Weekend pass
When: 22-26 June, 2016
Weather: Varying conditions, from sunny, to cool, cold and wet
Headliners: Coldplay, The Chemical Brothers, Mary J Blige, Christy Moore, Lionel Richie, Foo Fighters
Distance from closest town: 7.6 miles from Glastonbury
Originally established as a series of lectures, concerts, and recitals by the classical composer Rutland Boughton, this festival strongly attracted those who identified with hippy and bohemian cultures from the 1970s onwards. Known for its use of sustainable energy, and the majority of its earnings going to charity, this culture still exists today.
Famous as the largest open air music festival in the world, the Glastonbury Festival runs for five days and in 2015, sold 135,000 tickets. Since its inception, world class musicians have headlined at the festival. To name a few; David Bowie, The Cure, Oasis and U2.
Where: Little John's Farm, Reading, England
Cost: $295.95 / Weekend pass
When: 26-28 August, 2016
Weather: Sunny, 68°F
Headliners: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The 1975, The Courteeners, Twenty One Pilots, Boy Better Know, Slaves, DJ EZ
Distance from closest town: 1.4 miles from Reading
The origins of the Reading Festival began with the National Jazz Festival in the 1960s, taking inspiration from events held in America. After several name and venue changes, the current name and venue were settled upon, and it has now become the oldest and one of the most popular music festivals in history, with its appeal ever growing. It has a daily capacity of 90,000, and eight stages available to festival goers.
Although there haven’t been any significant events in some years now there has been an informal tradition of unpopular acts being bottled off stage. Which is to say that typically empty drinks bottles are hurled at shunned performers. Fleeing musicians have reportedly included Meat Loaf and 50 Cent.
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
Cost: $296.91 / Weekend pass
When: 25 June-2 July, 2016
Weather: Sunny, 68°F
Headliners: Mø, New Order, Tenacious D, Wiz Khalifa, Chvrches, Foals, S!Vas, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tame Impala
Distance from closest town: 1.6 miles from Roskilde
The Roskilde festival is one of Europe’s largest music festivals, and is the largest in Northern Europe. The four day festival is run by the Roskilde Foundation, with the support of music and culture at the forefront of its mission. Each year festival goers are given the opportunity to vote for which organisations they’d like to have receive the profits of the festival.
The festival originally only attracted people from Scandinavian countries, but since the mid-1990s, it has attracted a larger and more international audience, mainly from Germany, Australia and Britain. To add, the festival has grown significantly since it began in 1971, from 10,003 attendees to 133,000 people attending in 2014.
Where: Fira Montjuïc and Fira Gran Via L'Hospitalet
Cost: Sónar by Day $58.69, Sónar by night $78.25
When: 16-18 June, 2016
Headliners: The Chemical Brothers, Duran Duran, Skrillex, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, Hot Chip, Roisin Murphy
The three day Sónar Festival is an eclectic mix of music and technology, with the aim of bringing together experienced and emerging artists. The festival has been split into two since its inception; Sónar by day showcases concerts with a focus on discovering new talent, and Sónar by night showcases big international acts.
Beside music, the festival showcases visual arts, such as the technology and record fair, lectures, video art projections and art installations, which attracts thousands to its venues each year. 2015 saw a record of 119,000 visitors.
Where: De Schorre, Boom, Belgium
Cost: $282 / Weekend pass
When: 22-24 July, 2016
Headliners: Deadmau5, Armin Van Buuren, Axwell Ingrosso, Alesso, Martin Garrix, Eric Prydz, Solomun
Distance from closest town: 1.7 miles from Boom
Despite it being a young festival, Tomorrowland has become one of the largest electronic dance music festivals with 360,000 tickets available. It brings together 400 of the biggest acts of our time on 16 extravagant stages and, due to its huge popularity, two spin-offs were created in the USA and Brazil. The festival has also won the title of Best Music Event in the International Dance Music Awards three consecutive times in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Tomorrowland is renowned for its stage designs, each with a different theme. Some highlights include the volcano erupting in fireworks, a giant bookcase filled with life-like books, and a giant water mill along with fire, smoke, and confetti.
Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
Where: Benicàssim, Costa del Azahar, Valencia, Spain
Cost: $160.26 / Weekend pass
When: 14-17 July, 2016
Headliners: Muse, The Chemical Brothers, Disclosure, Massive Attack, The 1975, The Vaccines
Distance from closest town: 1.1 miles from Benicàssim
Held in a seaside resort, the Benicàssim festival attracts a younger, more party orientated audience, with under 18’s allowed in under special conditions. With a focus on European acts, it features not only well-known and established bands, but also those who are emerging.
The festival has been around since 1995, and has grown from 20,000 festival goers, to roughly 200,000 today. As a popular holiday destination, combined with big European acts, it’s no wonder it attracts so many people every year.
Where: Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California, USA
Cost: $175 / Weekend pass
When: 27-28 August, 2016
Headliners: Kanye West, Bloc Party, Morrissey, D'Angelo, The Vanguard
Distance from closest town: 5.2 miles from the centre of LA
The annual two-day festival began in 2004, and showcases well-known international artists across four stages, installations, sculptures and a night market. In 2011, the founder partnered up with Goldenvoice, the well-known promotion company behind the world renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and the festival grew massively in audience size.
With a range of genres on offer, and with previous headliners such as Kanye West, Morissey, Flume, and D'Angelo, the FYF Festival appeals to a wider audience than most.
Where: Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Cost: $335 / Weekend pass
When: 28-31 July, 2016
Headliners: Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, Sam Smith, The Weeknd
Distance from closest town: 0.6 miles from the centre of Chicago
Started as a farewell tour for Perry Farrell’s band, Jane’s Addiction, Lollapalooza was a touring music festival which travelled across the USA and Canada. In 2006 it returned to Chicago and soon became a popular two day festival after partnering with Capital Sports & Entertainment. In 2015, it was announced that it would become a four day festival from this year onwards.
Since 2010 Lollapalooza has spread from the US to other countries such as Chile, Brazil, Germany and now Argentina. The success and resultant popularity of the festival has caused event organisers to start adding the suffix "(a)palooza” to the end of an event or item they foresee becoming successful.
Ultra Music Festival
Where: Bayfront Park, Miami, Florida, USA
Cost: $299.95 / Early Bird Weekend pass
When: 18-20 March, 2016
Headliners: Afrojack, Avicii, Caribou, Chet Faker, David Guetta, Hardwell, Knife Party, Miike Snow, Purity Ring, DJ Snake, Tiesto, Tycho, Zedd
Distance from closest town: 1.1 miles from the centre of Miami
Named in honor of Depeche Mode's 1997 album, Ultra began in 1999 and had approximately 10,000 people in attendance. Since its early days, it has featured big international acts which attract fans from all walks of life, from the likes of Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Armin van Buuren and Deadmau5, and by 2010 had sold out with 100,000 attendees.
Each year more than 200 individual events are held during July and August, combined these are attended by over 250,000 guests. Notables such as Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón and Riccardo Muti will attract opera, concert and theatre lovers to the Salzburg Festival this year.
Firefly Music Festival
Where: The Woodlands of Dover, Delaware, USA
Cost: $299 / Weekend pass
When: 16-19 June, 2016
Headliners: Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon, Florence & The Machine, Deadmau5
Distance from closest town: 78.3 miles from Philadelphia
Lauren King of Firefly Music Festival
“Set among lush wooded landscapes and featuring renowned headliners and emerging artists, Firefly Music Festival allows guests to witness the unforgettable performances and engaging attractions that are nestled around every turn. Firefly Music Festival is a can’t-miss summer tradition for music fans from around the world."
“Coming off a 90,000 attendee sell out in 2015, the 2016 lineup features Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon, Florence & The Machine, Deadmau5, Ellie Goulding, Disclosure, Blink-182, Death Cab for Cutie, M83, Tame Impala, The 1975, A$AP Rocky, Of Monsters and Men, Major Lazer, Chvrches, Earth Wind & Fire, and more than 100 additional acts.”
Eaux Claires Music Festival
Where: Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States
Cost: $169 / Weekend pass
When: 12-13 August, 2016
Headliners: Beach House, James Blake, Vince Staples, Jon Hopkins, Jenny Lewis, Phosphorescent
Distance from closest town: 91 miles from Minneapolis
Tom Johnson of Gold Flake Paint
“The prize project of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who was born-and-raised in Eau Claires, this festival returns to the Wisconsin town for its second year, this coming August. The festival provides performance art and visual art, as well as the music, and all children ten and under can attend for free!
“Eaux Claires festival is for the dedicated music lover. It provides a diverse, and often niche, selection of artists from varying genres. This is for those attentive fans who want to find the best and most interesting music from the independent, underground scene. You won't find many radio hits here but that's the beauty of it!”
The Moogfest Music Festival
Where: Research Triangle, Durham, North Carolina, USA
Cost: $250 / Weekend pass
When: 19-22 May, 2016
Headliners: Odesza, Grimes, GZA, Miike Snow, Blood Orange
Distance from closest town: 8 miles from the centre of Durham
Norman Fleischer of Nothing but Hope and Passion
“It’s a real treat for all fans of festivals with an open mindset. It’s about the synthesis of music, art and technology, reflected in the two complexes ‘Future Sound’ and ‘Future Thought’, the latter being a platform for discussions, panels and workshops.
“The festival’s intellectual father, inventor of the Moog Synthesizer and electronic music pioneer, Robert Moog, is present even in the choice of location, Durham, part of the ‘Research Triangle’ and a growing tech city, seems like the perfect match.”
“Moogfest bears the benefits of an urban festival-the Raleigh–Durham International Airport is nearby and there are plenty of available partner hotels. Since this is an indoor event that is based in multiple venues all over Durham you don't have to worry that much about camping since it's not planned for this event.
This year’s edition features musical performances by Odesza, Grimes, GZA, Blood Orange a.o. Ticket prices start at $250 for all three days. Adventurous kids are welcome since the music programming events and workshops that celebrate electronic music are also designed to attract kids of all ages.”
Bonnaroo Music Festival
Where: Great Stage Park, Manchester, Tennessee, USA
Cost: $350 / Weekend pass
When: 9-12 June, 2016
Headliners: Pearl Jam, Dead & Company , LCD Soundsystem, Ellie Goulding
Distance from closest town: 4.2 miles from Manchester
Bonnaroo, meaning “a really good time”, lives up to its name. The festival was crowned as Rolling Stone’s ‘top 50 moments in rock & roll’ in 2003 and features not only music, but comedy, silent discos and community art projects.
Henno Kruger of Running Wolf’s Rant suggests to “pack easy clothes, but don't forget something to keep you warm at night and pack a raincoat (in case it decides to rain). Bonnaroo caters for all music genres. Kids under six are welcome for FREE.”
If you’re an avid music lover, and don’t want to miss out on the chance to see some of the world’s most popular bands and artists live this year, there is a vast list to choose from. With schedules spread across the year, you even have the luxury of choosing to go to the festivals that suit your lifestyle and interests. Before you jet set across the world though, remember to plan your trip to make the most out of the experience and even book your private charter flight in time.