A Guide to the Best Rock Music Festivals in the World


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.

Download Festival

Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.

 Robert Mora/Getty Images

The Download Festival happens every June over one weekend at 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.

Reading Festival


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. 

Roskilde Festival


 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 Guns 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.

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