The Top 6 Rock Music Festivals in the World

These Events Should Be on a Rock Lover's Bucket List

This short list of the best rock festivals in the world is limited to those that feature primarily mainstream and hard rock bands. Many great festivals include a wide range of genres in their lineup, but if they weren’t primarily rock shows, they didn’t make the cut. With that in mind, here are the top six rock festivals you need to put on your bucket list.

Austin City Limits Music Festival

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Tied to the popular PBS music series "Austin City Limits," the Austin City Limits Music Festival caters to rock fans who enjoy acts in the mainstream (Dave Matthews Band) and the margins (the Raconteurs, Wilco).Tthe Austin City Limits Music Festival usually (but not always) runs during a weekend in September and takes place is Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. Check the site for the dates before you plan your trip.

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Download Festival

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Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. Photo: Robert Mora/Getty Images.

The Download Festival happens every June over one weekend in Donington Park in Leicestershire, U.K. Download, which debuted in 2003, has spotlighted up-and-coming groups (such as the Answer) as well as veteran bands (like the reunited Limp Bizkit and Faith No More). There are a ton of bands playing on different stages during the three-day event, so it’s important to map out your itinerary in advance.

Download Festival

Lollapalooza

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The Hold Steady. Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images.

Founded in the early '90s by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza was once a traveling summer festival highlighting alternative rock bands such as Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. The festival relaunched in 2005 in Grant Park, Chicago, becoming a weekend-long summer event with a wider musical focus. Recent editions have featured everyone from Kanye West to the Hold Steady, positioning Lollapalooza as one of the most eclectic festivals in the world.

 

Lollapalooza

Reading Festival

blink 182
Blink-182. Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Held in Reading, U.K.,  the Reading Festival takes place over the last weekend in August. Rock bands of all stripes appear at the festival, including Guns N' Roses, Blink-182, Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore. One of the most famous Reading moments occurred in 1992 when Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was taken to the stage in a wheelchair, alluding to rumors that he was horribly addicted to drugs and was in declining health. 

Reading Festival

Rock on the Range

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Slash. Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images.

Rock on the Range brings together hard rock and metal bands every May to Columbus, Ohio, for a weekend festival. Hinder, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains are some of the big names that have played at Rock on the Range. Soundgarden and Metallica were on the schedule for 2017. Since its inception in 2007, Rock on the Range has stayed true to its motto: “Where Rock Lives.”

Rock on the Range

Roskilde Festival

oasis
Oasis. Photo: Dan Callister/Getty Images.

The Roskilde Festival, held in Roskilde, Denmark, is one of the oldest and most celebrated rock festivals in the world. The festival began in 1971 and has featured bands like G​uns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins. In the U.S., it is perhaps best remembered for the tragic death of nine fans who were killed when the crowd rushed the stage during Pearl Jam’s 2000 performance. The Roskilde Festival usually runs about a week from the end of June to the beginning of July.

Roskilde Festival