Austin City Limits Music Festival
Tied to the popular PBS music series Austin City Limits, the Austin City Limits Music Festival caters to rock fans who enjoy acts in the mainstream (Dave Matthews Band) and the margins (the Raconteurs, Wilco). Beginning in 2002 and located in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, the Austin City Limits Music Festival usually runs during a weekend in September, but that changed for 2009’s event, which was held in October. The 2013 edition will take place October 4-6 and October 11-13.
When Motley Crue reunited in 2008, they organized a traveling tour called Crue Fest, which included similar groups like Papa Roach, Buckcherry and Trapt on the bill. The first Crue Fest was a hit, so Crue Fest 2 took place the following year, with Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool, Godsmack and Charm City Devils as the featured guests. Unfortunately, it hasn't been running the last few years, but hopefully the Crue will reactive the tour soon.
The Download Festival happens every June for one weekend in Donington Park in Derby, England. Making its debut in 2003, Download has spotlighted up-and-coming groups (such as the Answer) as well as veteran bands (like the reunited Limp Bizkit and Faith No More). There are a ton of bands playing on different stages during the three-day event, so it’s important to map out your itinerary in advance.
Founded in the early '90s by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza was once a traveling summer festival highlighting alternative rock bands such as Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. The festival relaunched in 2005 in Grant Park, Chicago, becoming a weekend-long event with a wider musical focus. Recent editions have featured everyone from Kanye West to the Hold Steady, positioning Lollapalooza as one of the most eclectic festivals in the world.
Run by Ozzy Osbourne, Ozzfest is America’s premier hard rock and metal festival. Kicking off in 1996, Ozzfest has evolved from a weekend festival to a traveling road show. In recent years, however, the festival has shown signs of slowing down – the 2008 edition was only a one-day event, and Osbourne announced that the festival wouldn’t be happening at all in 2009 due to his focus on a new studio album. The festival has featured heavyweights like System of a Down, Velvet Revolver and Tool.
Held in Reading, England, the Reading Festival takes place over the last weekend in August. Rock bands of all stripes appear at the festival, including Guns N' Roses, Blink-182, Queens of the Stone Age, and Paramore. One of the most famous Reading moments occurred in 1992 when Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was taken to the stage in a wheelchair, alluding to rumors that he was horribly addicted to drugs and was in declining health. (This performance was later featured in the stellar Nirvana Live at Reading DVD.)
Rock on the Range
Rock on the Range brings together hard rock and metal bands every May to Columbus, Ohio, for a weekend festival. Hinder, Stone Temple Pilots and the newly-reformed Alice in Chains are some of the big names that have played at Rock on the Range, which recently added a Canadian date in Winnipeg, demonstrating the growing popularity of this festival. Since its inception in 2007, Rock on the Range has stayed true to its motto: “Where Rock Lives.”
Rockstar Mayhem Festival
Kicking off in 2008, the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival travels the U.S. with some of the loudest hard rock bands in tow. The debut edition featured Slipknot and Disturbed, and this year’s lineup will include Korn and Rob Zombie. Lesser-known bands are spotlighted on side stages earlier in the day, but as evening approaches, all eyes turn to the main stage and the headlining acts. The festival runs from July to August.