Music festivals are supposed to be incredible events celebrating of the music of various artists. That being said putting on these large productions takes an incredible amount of planning and coordination. Unfortunately as music festivals continue to increase in size and scope more things are able to go wrong. Unexpected weather, poor planning, and structural failure are just some of things that can cause a disaster at a music festival. Here are the 10 worst music festival disasters.
10. Glastonbury 2005
Glastonbury has a reputation of being one of the world’s most renowned music festivals. The event attracts the best artists of every genre under the sun. In 2005 The White Stripes and Coldplay were set to be the weekend’s top performers, but mother nature had other plans. In just two days the festival grounds received over two months worth of rain. The area flooded to a dangerous level, over 6 feet in some places. The flood water mixed with port-o-potty runoff and bacterial infections were widespread. Eventually the sun did come out on the final day. The event grounds were not as destroyed as the camping area, and the festival ended up selling out. Luckily since Glastonbury was used to handingly massive crowds, the emergency services handled the chaos and no one was seriously injured.
9. The Hudson Project 2014
The Hudson Music Project took place at the historic Winston Farm in Saugerties New York in July of 2014. The event featured a diverse line-up of acts ranging from hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar to the music festival circuit favorite, The Flaming Lips. The event went without incident until the final day. On Sunday a catastrophic thunderstorm hit the festival. It had rained heavily on Saturday night and the storm on the final day pushed the grounds over the edge. Widespread flooding occurred, and the grounds were turned into a horrible mud pit. The parking lot of the event was in a field which became water logged. Cars were stuck for days, and ultimately some attendees were stuck without food or water for over a day. Local charity groups came and provided aid for those stuck and stranded. The Hudson Project was ultimately canceled after only one year.
8. TomorrowWorld 2015
At the time TomorrowWorld was the largest dance music event in North America. It took place in the Chattahoochee Hills outside of Atlanta, Georgia. It attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees who were camping at the festival in hopes of catching their favorite DJ’s in person. Like the festivals previously mentioned, mother nature had other plans. A destructive storm hit the festival grounds on Saturday night and the festival decided not to communicate the damage to fans. They left thousands stranded without shuttles back to the camp sites and forced them to walk miles. Many tried to barter with cab driver, and some resorted to sleeping on the side of the road. When Sunday morning came the festival coordinators told all attendees that they were not allowed back into the grounds and to vacate immediately. Ultimately tens of thousands were stranded in rural Georgia. The festival did not return the following year.
7. Pukkelpop Festival 2011
Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium already had a grime legacy as their event started in 2011. The year prior lead singer of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, Charles Haddon, committed suicide at the festival. Event coordinators could have never planned for what would happen at their next installment. The festival was slated to have acts including Eminem, The Foo Fighters and Odd Future perform, but festivities were interrupted by a storm which for nothing could have been planned. Winds were so strong that stages and tents collapsed, even trees were uprooted. The grounds were destroyed entirely and emergency medical services were short handed. Once the rain, hail and wind had cleared, five were confirmed dead and over 140 were injured.
6. Time Warp Argentina 2016
The traveling electronic dance music festival Time Warp that originated in Germany set down in Argentina for the third time in 2016. What was set to be a two day event of the some of the world’s most renowned technical DJs ended in tragedy. During Time Warp’s first night there were reports that the event was oversold. To make matters worse the venue where the event was being held was not equipped to keep the environment at an appropriate temperature. Attendees started to overheat and before the night was over, more than 10 people had collapsed. On site medical services were overwhelmed and soon emergency services were called in from Buenos Aires. Five people eventually died from an overdosing on what was determined to be a bad batch of drugs sold as ecstasy circulating the event. The second night was canceled and soon after legislation was passed in Argentina banning electronic music events.
5. Altamont Free Concert 1969
After the massive success that was the original Woodstock ‘69, individuals wanted to recreate the magic on the west coast. As they say, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. The event seemed doomed before it began as there were several last minute changes. The Grateful Dead dropped out as the headlining act and the festival was also forced changed locations. Then to make matters worse in an odd choice the notorious biker gang ‘The Hell’s Angels’ was hired on as security. This ultimately resulted in Mick Jagger getting assaulted on stage, and a man getting stabbed to death in front of thousands. A couple was also later killed in a hit and run as the heavily intoxicated and violent audience was leaving the venue. The event was so catastrophic, it was documented in the 1970 documentary ‘Gimme Shelter’.
4. Roskilde Festival 2000
One of the most dangerous things a music festival can do is oversell the event. Still, this is exactly what The Roskilde Festival in Denmark decided to do. Pearl Jam was headlining the show and even before the crowd was let into the main stage venue of the event, things started to go down hill. People were pushing back and forth in the crowd as they grew more impatient by the minute. As soon as the band took the stage, the audience aggressively pushed forward and that is when things turned tragic. Security noticed something strange and a message was relayed to frontman Eddie Vedder on stage. He asked the audience to take three steps back, but the damage was already done. When the audience cleared, 9 bodies were found of those who were suffocated and crushed to death by the crowd. Pearl Jam was devastated by the event and wrote the song ‘Love Boat Captain’ for those lost in the tragedy.
3. Mawazine Festival 2009
Mawazine “Rhythms” Festival was the largest music festival in northern Africa. In 2009 there were over one thousand artists slated to perform over the course of several days at many different venues, including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and Kylie Minogue. Close to 100,000 people packed Rabat’s Hay Nahda stadium to see the star studded line up on Saturday, May 23rd, including Moroccan pop star, Abdelaziz Stati. As the performance was ending, the crowd heading towards the exit knocked over a wire fence which set off a stampede. The scene was pandemonium and when the dust cleared 11 people had been crushed to death in total, including two children. The tragedy was believed to be caused by the police sealing off designated exits and forcing the crowd into small points of entry.
2. Wings Festival 2003
Music festivals are some of the largest gatherings of people in many countries. This brings up many different security risks as there are so many different factors that can go wrong. The one thing many people never anticipate is a terrorist attack. In 2003 at the Wing’s festival outside of Moscow, Russia, two women attempted to enter the venue when they were stopped by security. They were wearing bomb belts and immediately detonated them. The suicide bombing killed 16 people and injured over 100. The reasoning behind the attack was the treatment of the Chechen people by the Russian government. The music festival was very popular with the young people of Russia so most of those who were killed or maimed in the attack were under 30. If the security had not caught the attack before the bombers entered, the death toll would have been in the 100’s. 2003 was the last year the Wings Festival was held.
1. Love Parade 2010
Love Parade at the time was one of the largest electronic music events in the world. In 2010 it was held in Duisburg and attracted over one million people. The festival grounds were only accessible through a small and narrow tunnel, which was 100 meters long and only 16 meters wide. The festival very quickly reached a maximum capacity of 1.4 million attendees and the tunnel leading to the grounds was sealed off on one side by police. Announcements were made for people still in the tunnel to calmly turn around, but chaos soon ensued. As thousands of people stormed the opposite direction in the confined space tragedy ensued. Once the space was cleared 21 people were found dead, crushed to death by the stampede. 10 people were indicted for the deaths with charges including manslaughter. The prosecution ultimately resulted in a few convictions. Love Parade still takes place every year, and the victims of the tragedy are always memorialized in some way.