The 12 Biggest Music Festivals in 2016
Every single year, all around the world there are spectacular music events that draw hundreds of thousands of revellers. For these events, individuals from all walks of life are united in a single experience, one which speaks more honestly than words.
From classical festivals to rock weekends, we’ve compiled a list of must-see music festivals taking place across the world in 2016 – and made it easy to pre-book and plan your private events group charter. Events were selected by highest attendance per genre.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Where: Empire Polo Grounds, California, USA
Cost: £286 / Weekend pass
When: 15-24 April, 2016
Weather: Sunny, 30°C
Headliners: A$AP Rocky, Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding, Rae Sremmurd, Sia, Parov Stelar
This massive US festival owes its origins to a dispute between Pearl Jam and a company called Ticketmaster Entertainment in the 1990s. The dispute saw the world famous band refuse to play their official venue and instead opt for the little known Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Due to the good behaviour of festival goers and the fact that bands were picked based on their genre, as opposed to radio penetration, Coachella became known as the anti-Woodstock.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival regularly draws tens of thousands of people. In 2015 organisers reported 198,000 ticket sales and the event has seen headliners which included everyone from Paul McCartney to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Where: Pilton, Somerset, England
Cost: £228 + booking fee/ SOLD OUT
When: 22-26 June, 2016
Weather: Fluctuating conditions, from sunny to cold and rainy. Max temps around 10°C
Headliners: Coldplay, Muse, Elo, PJ Harvey (so far)
The Glastonbury Festival is the largest open-field music festival in the world today and has been around for 45 years. It runs for five days and attendance has reached nearly 200,000 people. The event has been known to have been founded on and remained largely true to what’s commonly called ‘hippie ethics’ with features such as a ‘healing field’ and a dedication to donations towards charitable causes.
Although the main draw, there are also other forms of entertainment besides the headline music acts, including a cinema stage showing films and an entire section dedicated to family and children’s entertainment. The festival organisers generate enough sustainable energy to power the city of Bath.
According to Summer Festival Guide, “Glastonbury is notorious for being hit with rain! Pack a bit of everything so you are prepared for all types of weather. For the sun pack; sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, light clothes. For the rain pack; a waterproof raincoat or poncho, wellies are a must and warmer clothing for the evenings.”
Where: Little John's Farm, Reading, England
Cost: £213 / Weekend pass
When: 26-28 August, 2016
Weather: Sunny, 20°C
Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The 1975, The Courteeners, twenty one pilots, Boy Better Know, Slaves, DJ EZ
The Reading Festival is one of the oldest events of its kind which is still running and often draws its maximum capacity of 87,000 people per day. It originated from the National Jazz Festival and American festivals, and for the first 10 years was held at various locations until it found its permanent home and new name in Reading.
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: £111.41/ Day pass
When: 25 June-2 July, 2016
Weather: Partly cloudy, 20°C
Headliners: Mø, New Order, Tenacious D, Wiz Khalifa, Chvrches, Foals, S!Vas, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tame Impala
Originally dubbed the ‘Sound Festival’ in 1971, what we now know as the Roskilde Festival is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe and the biggest in Northern Europe. Since its early days, the festival has increasingly drawn huge international crowds and now attracts hundreds of thousands of people during the course of the weekend. It has multiple stages for different performers and provides a solid mix of mainstream and cutting-edge acts.
Other than the musical acts, the festival also includes additional features such as art shows and the Dream City – in which attendees create their own unique communities and events at their camp site. New activities for 2016 include the Graffiti Zone for the expression of street art and the return of the popular ‘More than Eating’ series of food challenges.
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Cost: Approx. £99 / Two Night pass
When: 16-18 June, 2016
Weather: Partly cloudy, 22°C
Headliners: Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Laurent Garnier, New Order, Flume, The Martinez Brothers
Sónar is a popular, international electronic music festival held annually in Barcelona. It was established in 1994 by Ricard Robles, Enric Palau and Sergi Caballero and one of its major elements is the manner in which it’s divided between day and night showings – separating it from otherwise similar events.
Sónar is also dedicated to artistic expression through technology and tends to run alternative activities which provide exposure along these lines, such as lectures on video art and projection shows.
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Cost: £170 / Five Day pass
When: 10-17 August, 2016
Headliners: Bastille, Muse, Parov Stelar, Bullet For My Valentine, The Lumineers, Kodaline, Jess Glynne
Founded by Müller Péter Sziámi and Károly Gerendai in 1993, The Sziget Festival is one of the largest and most attended music and culture festivals in Europe. The event typically takes place across seven days on the island of Óbudai-sziget and has its own ‘party train’ to transport festival goers from all over Europe. It won the ‘Best Major European Festival’ in 2012 and 2015 and is known for covering a wide range of musical genres.
Other than the musical performances the festival also offers activities like a cinema, makeshift theatre, tattooing and several sporting events such as volleyball, tennis, football, indoor rowing, rock climbing and bungee jumping.
Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
Where: Benicàssim, Spain
Cost: £236 / VIP Four Day ticket
When: 14-17 July, 2016
Headliners: Muse, The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Kendrick Lamar, Disclosure, Major Lazer, The 1975
The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (commonly abbreviated to FIB) is an award winning, major music event which takes place in Benicàssim, Spain and runs for four days. It was established in 1995 and now has several stages erected to support varying genres. The festival is highly popular in the UK due to the pleasant weather conditions and for offering a complete experience through parallel activities such as short films, fashion shows and art displays.
Festival goers who have purchased multi-day passes can camp for up to 9 days and the close proximity to the beach adds an additional layer of atmosphere which has drawn record crowds year after year.
According to Alicia Grimshaw from About Time Magazine, “The festival usually draws in crowds of around 50,000. It attracts more overseas visitors thanks to the affordable ticket prices and hot weather. Benicàssim in July is pretty warm, but the festival doesn’t run throughout the day. Instead it usually kicks off around 7 pm and runs through until the morning. It’s best to pack summer clothes and take a hoodie as the temperature does drop. Don’t forget to pack your sun cream!”
Rock al Parque
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
When: 15-17 August, 2016
Headliners: POD, Animal, Ill Nino, Legacy, Atari Teenage Riot, Behemoth, Melechesh, Diamante Eléctrico
Rock al Parque is arguable the most iconic rock festival in all of Latin America, and, with entry being free, it draws record breaking crowds. In 2004 the event drew one of the largest crowds in the world for a music festival, at 400,000 people. It was started in 1995 by Mario Duarte and Julio Correal and takes place over three days at Bogotá's Simon Bolivar Park.
It’s worth noting that there is no alcohol for sale at the event, nor is smoking allowed and attendees are checked for anything which could be used as a weapon when entering. As of 2009 the show had hosted a total of 473 artists and 3.1 million concertgoers.
Where: San Isidro, Argentina
Cost: £240 / Weekend pass
When: 18-19 March, 2016
Headliners: Florence + The Machine, Metallica, Paul McCartney, James Bay, Of Monsters And Men, Twenty One Pilots
Lollapalooza is a major, annual music festival that takes place in Grant Park in San Isidro, Argentina. The event began in 1991 when Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell performed a farewell tour for his band. It became the event which we’re familiar with today in the mid-2000s and attendance averages around 160,000 people over two to three days.
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.
Where: Salzburg, Austria
Cost: Varies by individual show
When: 22 July-31 August, 2016
Headliners: Florence + The Machine, Metallica, Paul McCartney, James Bay, Of Monsters And Men, Twenty One Pilots
The Salzburg Festival is a major summer opera festival which focuses on the arts of classical performances, theatre and opera. The event is held in Salzburg, known for being the birthplace of Mozart. It has a long history dating back to 1877 and was only interrupted during World War II when it was shut down until the conclusion of the war. Soon after reopening it regained its popular status and remains one of the most important classical calendar events in the world.
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.
Lake of Stars
Where: Lake Malawi, Malawi
Cost: £48 / Early Bird Three Day Weekend pass
When: 30 September-2 October, 2016
Weather: 22°C, clear skies
Headliners: Unknown. Performers generally come from Africa and the UK
According to group travel experts, The Flash Pack, “Lake of Stars is probably the most stunning festival location in the world on the banks of Lake Malawi. You can literally sit on the beach with your feet in the water looking out at the glistening waters of the lake while listening to the sound of African beats with a Kuche Kuche (local beer) or two.
“Lake Malawi is the fifth biggest lake in the world and it looks just like the sea. As you are driving to the venue it feels very off the beaten path with poor dirt roads but this is what makes it such an adventure. The great thing about travelling here is that Malawi has stunning countryside and popular game reserves and is an ideal safari holiday – what better way to end your holiday then a few days partying on Lake Malawi.”
Isle of Wight Festival
Where: Isle of Wight, England
Cost: £195 / Weekend pass
When: 9-12 June, 2016
Headliners: Queen, Stereophonics, Faithless, Mike + The Mechanics, The Corrs, Iggy Pop, Sixx AM, Sigma
According to James Shepherd Thompson of The Festival Calendar, “The Isle of Wight Festival is renowned for its rock and pop acts which perform on the main stage each year. In addition there are a number of supporting acts and smaller stages where you can enjoy a variety of musical styles and entertainment. In particular, the Platform One stage hosts a number of new bands and big name DJ’s that run late into the night.
“Attendance last year was approximately 58,000 people. It’s held in June, in the middle of the UK summer, so expect and prepare for hot weather. Although, it is the UK so don’t forget your wellies and raincoat just in case!”
Honourable Mention - Download Festival
Where: Donington Park, Leicestershire, England
Cost: £225 / Weekend pass
When: 10-12 June, 2016
Weather: Cloudy, average of 13.5°C
Headliners: Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Black Sabbath, Korn, Deftones, Nightwish, Megadeth
Distance from closest town: 12.3 miles from Derby
The Download Festival is one of the most popular UK rock festivals and has been held annually at Donington Park in Leicestershire since 2003. It originated as the successor to the Monsters of Rock festivals which were held in the same location but concluded in 1996. The name originated from original 2003 festival, during which attendees could download tracks from bands which had played, through a code on their tickets.
The festival takes place right next to the East Midlands International Airport which makes attendance very convenient, especially if you’ll be chartering in. It is confirmed that Bruce Dickinson will be flying his Ed Force One 747-400 Jumbo Jet across Download to get to the festival.
And there we have it, some of the largest scale music events for the year. Contact us to find out more and book your private events group charter to get to your festivals of choice in comfort.