A Brief History of Festivals

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Photo by: Jenn Shepperd
Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Festivals date as far back as ancient Greece yet became more popularized and modern in the sixties. We had the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals of the late 50’s, but the festival that truly sparked the beginning to what we recognize now was the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. This festival brought together thousands of people and introduced us to Janis Joplin, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix.

In 1969, there was a little thing known as Woodstock which shook the nation. Over 400,000 people from different walks of life united for “three days of peace and music.” The event sparked a movement, the hippie movement. This counterculture promoted peace and love induced by music.

England hopped in on the culture soon after. The Isle of Wight Festival, which had a whopping 700,000 people in attendance, was launched and Glastonbury Festival followed.

In the 1980’s, Burning Man was being ignited in San Francisco, and later capitalized in Black Rock Desert just north of Reno. Burning Man continues to inspire many to group together in an effort to create one immaculate community for just a week. Every year, it brings together thousands of people from around the world with art installations, music, social experiments, and the famous Burning Man. After the week, “burners” gather up their items and disappear without a trace until the following year.

In the nineties, we began hearing familiar names such as Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot and Coachella. Within the last ten years, EDM and “rave culture” has skyrocketed in popularity and brought raves out from underground into mainstream entities like EDC. Commercialization has led to hundreds of festivals being born, which have been lacking some of the original counterculture values of the sixties but still succeed in creating the most amazing experience of all time.

However, we have noticed the reignition of “transformative festivals,” such as Lightning in a Bottle, Shambhala, and Symbiosis, breeding from the likes of Burning Man and Woodstock. These festivals are practicing those counterculture ideals people have forgotten in the “real world” to once again include togetherness and spirituality in the face of music.


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