By Haddon Libby

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was first held on October 9th and 10th in 1999.  Over these two days, festivalgoers would attend for $50 per day and see performances by Beck, the Chemical Brothers, Morrissey, Rage Against the Machine, Tool and Underworld.  Approximately 37,000 tickets were sold over the two days.  Goldenvoice, the festival promotor, lost nearly $1 million on the event.

The festival went on hiatus for 2000 and reemerged in 2001 with its current April dates as is the case today.  Where attendance averaged 16,000 per day in 2002, it now hosts an estimated 125,000 people during each of the six days of the festival.  The economic impact on the Coachella Valley from the festival is more than $750 million annually.

As large as Coachella is, there are a number of larger music festivals each year around the world.


From June 23rd – 25th this year, the Danube Island Festival will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.  Located on an island in the Danube River in Vienna, Austria, Donauinselfest as it is called by most, is the largest festival in the world with 3 million attendees.  Where a general admission ticket costs $549 at Coachella, Donauinselfest is free.  The festival lineup will be published next month.

The second largest festival in the world occurs in Rabat, Morocco.  Mawazine as it is called happens each June and is attended by 2.5 million people.  2023 marks the third year that the festival has been cancelled although the Maroc Culture Association recently announced that the festival will return next year.  Past performers have included Marshmello, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Rod Stewart and Sting.

Our neighbors to the north in Montreal, Canada have the most attended jazz festival in the world with an estimated 2 million attendees.  Started back in 1980 and taking place from June 29th through July 8th, the Montreal International Jazz Festival features performances by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Diana Krall, Chris Botti, BADBADNOTGOOD and Herbie Hancock.  This year will be the first full festival since COVID.

Some cheeseheads up in Wisconsin say that they have the largest music festival in the world.  Marking its 50th anniversary, Summerfest will be over nine days between June 22nd and July 8th.  With attendance of 409,000 last year, Summerfest might be overstating its size given that 409,000 attended last year.  To my way of counting, Summerfest is about 340,000 less than Coachella despite an additional three days.  Some of the performers this year include James Taylor, Zac Brown Band, Bonobo, Imagine Dragons, Elvis Costello, Cypress Hill and Wang Chung.

Similar in size to Coachella, Po’land’Rock takes place from August 3rd through the 5th at Czaplinek-Broczyno Airfield in northwest Poland.  Started in 1995, some of this year’s lineup includes Spin Doctors, Royal Republic and While She Sleeps.

The largest festival in South America is a bi-ennial that happens on even years only.  Rock in Rio means Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Now owned by Live Nation, this festival started in 1985 with acts like AC/DC, Queen and Ozzy Osbourne.  Held over six day, attendance is roughly 700,000.  The 2022 incarnation included performances by Justin Bieber, Post Malone and Coldplay.

Amongst US festivals, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans is the third largest with an attendance of 500,000.  Started in 1995 by Essence Magazine, this festival runs from June 29th through July 3rd with performers including Lauryn Hill, Doug E Fresh and Jermaine Dupree.

Locally, the Joshua Tree Music Festival is held in May and October each year.  The May series takes place from May 18th through the 21st with performances including Galactic, Adam Freeland and The Last Internationale.

Haddon Libby is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Winslow Drake Investment Management.  For more information on his award winning business, please visit