Top ten music festivals of 2011

Monday 27 December 2010 01:00

Opening January 21, Australia's biggest summer festival of the year, Big Day Out, celebrates the New Year with headliners Tool and M.I.A. The 2011 season is also highlighted by Kings of Leon at Roskilde and Coldplay at Rock Werchter. Here are details about some of the biggest music festivals worldwide, chosen for their lineup, location, or history.

20th Big Day Out Festival
January 21 - Febuary 6
various cities in Australia and New Zealand

Founded in 1992 in Sydney, Big Day Out is a touring musical event that opens in Auckland on January 21 with headliner Tool. The show travels to Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth in the subsequent days. The event, which expanded its Sydney show to two days and expects to draw more than 250,000 people, features seven or eight stages (depending on the venue) with rock, electronic music, international, and local acts performing. 2011 features M.I.A. and Iggy and the Stooges. Gold Coast, Melbourne, and one of the Sydney shows are sold out but you can register online to be entered into a drawing for a chance at a ticket. Tickets are priced between $150 AUD and $155 AUD (€111-€115), depending on the city, and there are no camping options.

25th South by Southwest
March 11-20
Austin, Texas, US

The annual South by Southwest Music and Media Conference & Festival gathers members of the international music, film, and interactive media industries in Austin, Texas, for a weeklong convergence of ideas and talent. Nearly 2,000 bands from 50 countries perform annually at the event, and the city swells with an estimated 100,000 music lovers who come to hear the thousands of concerts - many of them free - staged in 80 venues throughout the city. The music conference, geared toward industry professionals, attracts nearly 12,000 attendees every year; the film and interactive components, added in 1994, attract approximately 17,000 registrants. SXSW 2011 is scheduled for March 11-20. To attend the conference: through January 14 badges range from $475 to $675  (€355-504) for single events (music, film, or interactive). Gold and platinum badges, priced at $800 (€598) and $1,050 (€785), allow entry into multiple events. After January, costs will rise by $25 to $75 (€19 to €56) per badge. This is an urban event and there are no camping options.

20th Lollapalooza
April 2-3: Santiago, Chile
August 5-7: Chicago, Illinois, US 

First launched in 1991 by Perry Farrell, lead singer of Jane's Addiction, Lollapalooza is an iconic American festival with its roots in the alternative music scene. This year the Chicago festival will be two days and not three, and for the first time, the event will expand internationally, with a weekend slated in Santiago, Chile. While historically a vehicle for alternative bands, Lollapalooza has come to encompass a wide range of acts. Headliners in 2010 included Lady Gaga, Green Day, and Soundgarden. The 2011 lineup and further ticket information for both events is expected in the coming months. Note: These are urban festivals with no camping options, but the festival site does provide a list of hotels in the Chicago area. Stayed tuned to the site for more information on the Santiago event. 2010 presale tickets were priced at $175 (€131)/regular tickets were $215 (€161).

12th Coachella
Valley Music and Arts Festival
April 15-19
Indio, California, US

More than 100,000 music fans head to the Southern California desert for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In the decade since Coachella launched, the multi-stage event has grown in size and acclaim and is now considered the opener of the summer festival season. A lineup for 2011 has yet to be announced (2010 headliners were Jay-Z, Gorillaz, and Thom Yorke) and tickets will not go on sale until February. Ticket prices have yet to be updated on the Coachella website, but last year's prices included a three-day pass for $269 (€202). A camping spot was an additional $55 (€42), or $250 (€188) for an RV. Tickets can be paid in full or in installments.

10th Bonnaroo Festival
June 9-12
Manchester, Tennessee, US

The four-day Bonnaroo Festival, now in its 10th year, brings nearly 90,000 people to Great Stage Park, a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. It is the top-grossing festival in North America, and Rolling Stone named it as one of the 50 moments that changed the history of rock and roll. The 2011 lineup has yet to be announced but 2010 featured the Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, and Jay-Z. The 2011 presale tickets have sold out and regular tickets are expected to go on sale in early 2011. Presale tickets sold for $250 (€188) and prices will likely rise once tickets go back on sale. VIP tickets are priced at $1,425 (€1,071) a pair. Tickets can be paid in full or in installments.

41st Glastonbury Festival
June 23-28
Pilton, England

The Glastonbury Festival is one of the biggest and best-loved music festivals in the world, known for its all-star lineups as well as for its varied arts offerings. The 2010 event featured Muse, Stevie Wonder, Shakira, Snoop Dog, and Gorillaz. Tickets for the 2011 festival are sold out but check with the website for a possible resale of canceled tickets. A standard ticket is £185 (€218), which includes camping; additional prices include £15 (€18) for car parking, £75 (€88) to bring a camper van, and £820 (€967) for tipi rental.

41st Roskilde Festival
June 30 - July 3
Roskilde, Denmark

Among the largest European music festivals, Roskilde attracts more than 80,000 concertgoers and more than 180 performing bands. 2011 headliners include Kings of Leon and Iron Maiden. The 2011 festival will take place from June 30 to July 3, with the campground opening for warm-up events that run from June 26 until the start of the festival. Tickets are currently on sale. A €232 ticket includes camping and access to events for the entire week. One-day tickets are available for €117.

37th Rock Werchter Festival
June 30 - July 3
Werchter, Belgium

Rock Werchter is another of Europe's biggest festivals, this one attracting more than 110,000 visitors a year (of which 80,000 stay for all three days). The 2011 lineup is so far set to include Coldplay, Iron Maiden, Kings of Leon, and Chemical Brothers. Four-day passes are available now for €195; one-day passes are priced at €76. A campsite ticket is an additional €18; €25 for an extra-large site.

14th Fuji Rock Festival
July/August 2011
Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Set on the Naeba Ski Resort, the Fuji Rock Festival is a favorite for its picturesque location. More than 100,000 people attend the annual festival, where they can watch music on seven different stages, the largest of which can accommodate 40,000 people. The festival features nearly 200 artists, most of them from the UK, the US, and Japan; the 2010 lineup included Muse, Massive Attack, Roxy Music, and MGMT. 2011 details have yet to be announced; advance three-day tickets in 2010 went for 39,800 yen (then about €300).

33rd Reading Festival and 13th Leeds Festival
August 27-29
Reading and Leeds, England

With the Glastonbury Festival sold out, the Reading and Leeds festivals offer another great UK option, attracting many big-name bands. The two festivals take place simultaneously and have the same lineup, with capacities of about 80,000 at the Reading site at about 70,000 in Leeds. In 2010 both featured headliners Arcade Fire, Guns N' Roses, and Blink-182. Presale tickets are available through December 31: a weekend ticket is priced at £187 (€221), but ticket prices are expected to increase in January. Both festivals offer plenty of onsite camping options.

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