A Brief History of Music Festivals

Music festivals have become the perfect summer time event. Everyone loves to relax in the sunshine, surrounded by crowds of like-minded people and listening to favorite songs played by beloved artists. But where did this tradition begin and how did it evolve to become so popular? Well, it appears you have the ancient Greeks to thank.

Roots in Ancient Greece

Modern music festivals have their origins in ancient Greece. Many millennia ago, this ancient civilization held a five-day event devoted to Apollo, the god of music and poetry. The celebration was called the Pythian Games, in honor of Apollo killing the Pythos dragon.

As the Pythian Games grew in popularity, other parts of Greece joined in the fun and began holding their own festivities in honor of their favorite deities. This tradition outlasted the Greeks and was assumed by the Romans, whose festivals honored the god of wine, Bacchus. In time, the Romans also left but the festivals remained and spread throughout Europe, but waned during the middle and dark ages.

The Evolution of Modern Festivals

The 1960s saw a rebirth of music festivals, led by the famous event at Woodstock. In the 70’s and 80’s festivals such as Glastonbury, Lillith Faire, and Burning Man gained in popularity while smaller events popped up all over the countryside every summer.

Modern festivals include Lollapalooza and Coachella with massive events with millions of dollars in production and support resources. Festivals are now more popular than ever. More than 10% of the U.S. population attends a festival every year and residents of the UK are not far behind.

Although modern in appearance and musical offerings, festivals are not a new invention. In fact, they have been around for thousands of years and most likely will be here for many more. Festivals are an opportunity to celebrate the summer and convene with people who have similar taste and style. They are an excuse to unwind and relax while listening to music. Most likely this is why the Greeks loved them and it is why they are beloved today.

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