Metal and rock music festivals are some of the most unique experiences this year. The wide variety of subgenres, top-class groups, the possibility of sharing with like-minded people, and overall seeing some of the best music bands in the world in a live setting is something that makes these festivals all the more endearing.
However, which are the best rock and metal festivals worldwide in 2023? Which are the ones that someone needs to go to at least once in their lives? Here are, in no particular order, the best rock and metal festivals out there. Let’s begin!
1. Rock in Rio
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Date: September or October
Rock in Rio is no longer just about Rock and Metal as it now covers a lot of music genres in each edition, and, despite the name, it no longer takes place only in Rio de Janeiro as there have been editions in Madrid, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal, in the past. However, this festival was a pioneer for the Rock and Metal genres in the 80s, taking bands such as Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, and Queen to South America in 1985.
While now people can go and watch some of the most prominent artists from many musical lanes, the many different editions of this festival have seen the likes of Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Scorpions, Slipknot, Motorhead, Sepultura, and many more giving some of the best performances in their entire careers to audiences that have ranged from the 300,000 to the one million, as it was reported in the 1985 edition.
2. Welcome to Rockville
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida.
Date: May 18-19-20-21, 2023
Rockville takes place in Florida, United States, and while it started in 2011, it has gone on to become one of the most prominent Rock and Metal festivals in the North American nation, with almost every edition being sold-out and usually having an average of 50,000 people every time.
This festival has become a lot more famous over the years and recent editions have featured some very major acts, such as Metallica, Lamb of God, Nine Inch Nails, Disturbed, and many more.
3. Sziget Festival
Location: Budapest, Hungary.
Date: Usually in the first week of August. This year on August 10-15, 2023
Taking place on the Danube island in Northern Hungary, the Sziget Festival started in 1993 as mostly a music event for students and it progressively became one of the most important Rock and Metal festivals in all of Europe, even if it now covers a wide variety of genres.
In 2019 broke its own attendance record with over 565,000 people, and it has regularly featured bands such as the Foo Fighters, Bullet for My Valentine, Bring Me the Horizon, Limp Bizkit, and many more from the Rock and Metal genres.
4. Louder Than Life
Location: Louisville, Kentucky.
Date: September 21-22-23-24, 2023
This festival not only takes place in Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States and has included a wide variety of artists in the Metal genre since its inception in 2011, such as Guns N’ Roses, Halestorm, Five Finger Death Punch, Judas Priest, Metallica, Volbeat, and more, but it also has a wide variety of beverages and alternatives for entertainment.
Louder Than Life is a festival with multiple shows that interest beer, whiskey, gourmet food, and a lot more, making it a very complete experience for metalheads everywhere.
5. Aftershock Festival
Location: Sacramento, California.
Date: September or October
One of the biggest Rock and Metal festivals on the West Coast in the United States and one that has become a modern classic in recent times, the Aftershock Festival is a must-have for any fan of the genre that enjoys going to these activities. It started small but now is one of the hottest venues in the market.
Testament to this festival’s growth is the bill for the upcoming edition, which is taking place on October 5 of this year: Pantera, Tool, Corey Taylor, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold… an amazing list of some of the most iconic groups in the last couple of decades and all gathered in the Aftershock Festival.
6. Resurrection Fest
Location: Viveiro, Spain.
Date: June 29 to July 1, 2023
Spain is one of the European countries with one of the most notorious fandoms in the Rock and Metal genre and due to the nation’s incredible potential for tourism, the festival scene has been a massive success there. The Resurrection Fest, which started in 2006 and has gone on to have audiences of over 54,000, is a testament to that.
The event takes place yearly in the city of Viveiro and the commercial impact of the festival has ranged from 6 million to 15 million euros, which goes to show its appeal and power on that front. In terms of the most notorious acts that have appeared on that stage, it has had the likes of Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Motorhead, Kiss, Scorpions, Rammstein, Slayer, Megadeth, and many more.
7. Rocklahoma Festival
Location: Pryor, Oklahoma.
Date: September 1-3, 2023
This festival always takes place in the first three days of September as part of the Labor Day weekends and its a combination of a beautiful location (Pryor, Oklahoma), great camping opportunities, and some of the best bands that the genre has to offer since its first edition in 2007, the Rocklahoma has become one of the best Rock and Metal festivals out there.
Some of the most important bands that have played here include Def Leppard, Rivals Sons, Stone Sour, The Cult, Suicidal Tendencies, Anthrax, Slayer, Lacuna Coil, and many more.
8. Jera on Air
Location: Ysselsteyn, Netherlands.
Date: June 22-23-23, 2023
The Netherlands is a country that is not often associated with the Rock and Metal scene, but when it comes to their festivals, they often have one or two tricks up their sleeves. The Jera on Air festival is exactly that.
It takes place in Ysselsteyn every year in June, and while other festivals on this list are mainly geared towards Rock and Metal, the Jera on Air festival offers a bit more variety with a lot more emphasis on Punk and Hardcore. However, that doesn’t exclude other genres, and groups such as Papa Roach, Black Flag, and Hatebreed were some of the standout performers in the 2023 edition.
9. Download Festival
Location: Donington Park, UK.
Date: June 8-11, 2023
Even though it started in 2003, the Download Festival has a lot of history when it comes to this music genre. It takes place yearly in Donington, UK, which was the same venue for the legendary Monsters of Rock festival from the 80s and 90s, an event that was a pioneer in the field of festivals for this type of music.
So, Download Festival also is a very special event, and one only has to look at the many different bands that have played there, such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Dream Theater, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Journey… the list goes on and on. It has a capacity of more than 100,000, which is achieved regularly every year, and it has had editions in France (since 2016), Australia (since 2018), and Germany (since 2022).
10. 70000 Tons of Metal
Location: Miami, Florida.
Date: January or early February.
Definitely the most unique festival on this list. The 70000 Tons of Metal is a five-day cruise that also happens to be a Rock and Metal festival, thus becoming a very unique experience for a lot of people as they can enjoy a very fun vacation while watching their favorite bands play live.
It started in 2011 and it usually takes people to a Caribbean destination from the United States, with a capacity for about 3000 people. The cruise has proven to be a success, taking place yearly in January or early February, and bands such as Saxon, Sabaton, Gamma Ray, Iced Earth, Uli Jon Roth, Riot V, Exodus, Metal Church, and many, many more have played there.
11. ProgPower USA
Location: Lansing, Illinois.
Date: September or October.
ProgPower USA is an underrated one when it comes to Rock and Metal festivals. While others on this list tend to feature a lot of worldwide icons of the genre, this festival focuses on the Progressive and Power Metal subgenres, giving opportunities to lesser-known yet amazing bands.
It started in 2001 in Lansing, Illinois, although it has been taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, since the 2002 edition. One of its biggest achievements has been giving the USA debut to a lot of major European Metal bands such as Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Gamma Ray, and Stratovarius. This festival has also featured Symphony X, Kamelot, Primal Fear, Iced Earth, Cage, and a lot more.
12. Glastonbury Festival
Location: Pilton, Somerset, UK.
Date: June 21-22-23-24-25, 2023
One of the oldest festivals on this list, the Glastonbury Festival takes place in England and it has been going strong since 1970, reaching a record attendance of 210,000 people in the 2022 edition. It’s not only a festival about music as it covers a lot of different art forms as well, making a huge part of English culture.
When it comes to Rock and Metal acts, some of the most prominent over the years have been David Bowie, The Smiths, Muse, Bono, Hawkwind, and many more.
Location: Grant Park, Chicago.
Date: August 3-4-5-6, 2023
This is one of the most prominent music festivals in the entire world and it started as a touring event in the early 90s, but later established itself in Chicago and has had editions held in several different countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, France, and many more. This is a worldwide phenomenon and a festival that covers a wide variety of genres, even going as far as being shown in The Simpsons during the show’s prime years.
While Lollapalooza has had a lot of variety in terms of music genres, some of the most prominent Rock and Metal acts to play there have been Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Foo Fighters, and many more.
14. Graspop Metal Meeting
Location: Dessel, Antwerp, Belgium.
Date: June 15-16-17-18, 2023
Graspop Metal Meeting could very well be one of the best examples of a success story when it comes to Rock and Metal festivals out there. The festival started in 1996 and has been going on ever since in Dessel, Antwerp, Belgium, becoming one of the best in the entirety of Europe, which is saying a lot when is taken into account how this country doesn’t have a big history with the genre.
However, the festival has gone from strength to strength, reaching a record attendance of 220,000 in the 2022 edition, which was when they returned after the COVID pandemic. Some of their most prominent artists involved the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Suicidal Tendencies, Saxon, Slayer, Scorpions, Deep Purple, and many other high-profile groups that have turned Graspop into one of the elite.
15. Sweden Rock Festival
Location: Norje, Sweden.
Date: June 7-8-9-10, 2023
The Sweden Rock Festival is a prime example of working the way to the top. This festival started in 1992 in the town of Norje, Sweden, and the first edition only had nine rather unknown bands and lasted one day. However, as time went on, the festival added more groups and more days, becoming the flagship festival for the genre in Sweden, which is a big country for this kind of music.
Aerosmith, DIO, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Accept, Kamelot… the list goes on when it comes to the many different bands of the highest caliber that have played in the Sweden Rock Festival. In fact, the 30th anniversary of the legendary Swedish band Europe was celebrated in this venue and was recorded as a live concert.
16. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park
Location: Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria, Germany.
Date: First weekend of June.
These two festivals happen at the same time and they are run by the same people, so they are connected with one another. This is also an event that has taken place in Germany since 1985 and they have become one of the most prominent Rock and Metal festivals out there.
While the festival has been moved around to several locations across Germany, it is currently in Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria, as of this writing. Some of the most notorious acts in recent years include the likes of Tool, Mastodon, Slipknot, Slayer, Foo Fighters, Metallica, and others.
Location: Derbyshire, England.
Date: 2nd week of August.
If a person is looking for an extreme Metal festival in the UK, Bloodstock is the place to be. It started in Derbyshire, England, in 2001 as an indoor event, but in 2005 became what is known today, growing every year, and nowadays has an average of 20,000 people per edition.
While Bloodstock might not have the range and capacity of other festivals on this list, the fact they support and give a place to be for a lot of extreme Metal bands is a wonderful thing. They still give room to other subgenres, which is why the likes of Helloween, Motorhead, Candlemass, and Blind Guardian have played here alongside groups such as Sepultura, Abbath, Behemoth, and Napalm Death.
Location: Refshaleoen, Denmark.
Denmark has always been an underrated nation when it comes to Metal music and Copenhell is a testament to that. This festival started in 2010, becoming one of the first open-air Metal festivals in the country, and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
This festival has become a mainstay for summer tours in the Metal genre and recent editions have featured the likes of Metallica, Def Leppard, Pantera, Slipknot, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and local heroes, Mercyful Fate.
Location: Clisson, France.
Taking place in Clisson, France, the Hellfest is not only one of the most prominent Rock and Metal festivals out there but also one of the most significant in its home country, having the highest turnover on average. It has an average of 60,000 people per day on each edition and it has been going strong since 2006.
As of this writing, the festival lasts seven days and each stage is centered around a specific Metal subgenre, so the audience can see bands of many different styles. Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Anthrax, Slayer, Sepultura, and many more are some of the most prominent groups to have played in this highly-regarded venue.
20. Wacken Open Air
Location: Wacken, Germany.
Date: First weekend of August.
Wacken has become the peak of Rock and Metal festivals in recent years. It is now one of the most popular events in the genre and it usually has an average of 80,000 people, becoming one of the most successful festivals in all of Germany.
Taking place in the town they are named after, every Metal band worth their salt has played here, becoming almost a rite of passage to highlight a group’s success and growth over the years. Helloween, Nightwish, Blind Guardian, Sabaton, Motorhead, Heaven & Hell, Saxon, Exodus, Dream Theater, Accept, Epica, and many more have played and achieved great success in Wacken.
What is the largest metal festival in the world?
Wacken Open Air first started as a small festival in 1990, but its popularity over the years increased massively. We consider this festival the biggest metal festival in the world and gets around 80,000 metalheads every year and always sold out and difficult to find tickets.
What state has the most metal concerts?
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – USA
“The World’s Largest Music Festival” by the Guinness World Records since 1999, this music festival an 11-day event is held between late June and early July, and also included all genres of musical styles.
Which is the largest music festival around the world?
Vienna is a city that has been the home of great musicians, with famous names like Mozart having been residents before It’s not a surprise that it’s now the home of the biggest music festival worldwide. It’s held on an island in the middle of the Danube River, Donauinselfest attracted over 3.1 million visitors in 2016.