A music festival is a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality, or locality of musicians, or holiday. They are commonly held outdoors, and are often inclusive of other attractions such as food and merchandise vending, performance art, and social activities. Many festivals are annual, or repeat at some other interval. Some, including many rock festivals, are held only once. Some festivals are organized as for-profit concerts and others are benefits for a specific cause. Another type of music festival is the educative type, organized annually in local communities, regionally, or nationally, for the benefit of amateur musicians of all ages and grades of achievement.
Another type of music festival is the educative type, often organized annually in local communities, regionally, or nationally, for the benefit of amateur musicians of all ages and grades of achievement. Entrants perform prepared pieces in front of an audience which includes competitors. But the essential feature of this type of festival is that each participant receives verbal and written feedback, there and then, from a highly qualified, professional adjudicator—someone whom they might never meet in any other way. They also usually receive a certificate, classified according to merit, and some may win trophies. The competitive element is often played down, however, as the important aspect is that participants can learn from one another. Such festivals aim to provide a friendly and supportive platform for musicians to share in the excitement of making music. For many, they provide a bridge from lessons and examinations to performing confidently in public.
Festivals around the world
Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s 11-day event, Summerfest, promotes itself as “The World’s Largest Music Festival”, a title certified by the Guinness World Records and has been held since 1999. Operating annually since 1968, the festival attracts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people each year, and hosts over 800 musical acts. The Woodstock Festival in 1969 drew nearly 500,000 attendees, and the Polish spin-off Przystanek Woodstock drew 700,000 in 2011. The largest annual greenfield music festival in the world is Roskilde Festival in Denmark, which attracts about 135,000 spectators each year. Glastonbury Festival has a capacity of about 175,000 spectators, but has “fallow years” roughly every five years, so it is the biggest non-annual greenfield festival in the world. The oldest annual dedicated pop music festival in the world is Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands, though in other genres, there are much older ones: the Three Choirs Festival in the UK has run annually since 1719.