26 vintage photos of music festivals that will make you want to go back in time

  • Festival season is in full swing.

  • Glastonbury Festival, which typically pours millions of pounds into the UK's economy, ended June 30.

  • But while there are more festivals than ever before, they're not a new phenomenon.

It seems like every other week, there's a new music festival promising to be the greatest weekend ever. In addition to all of these new events popping up around the world, there are the staples like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Hangout.

That's not even mentioning the British mainstays like Glastonbury, which earned around £168 million, or about $212 million, for businesses in the United Kingdom last summer, according to an economic impact summary shared by the festival. Other UK festivals include Leeds and Isle of Wight, which also draw tens of thousands of visitors each year.

But if you find yourself longing for the days of going to a concert without catching people culturally appropriating Native American headdresses, taking selfies every five seconds, or watching the show through their tiny phone screens as they record the whole thing, you might have just been born in the wrong time.

Keep scrolling to see the real glory days of music festivals.

Woodstock Music Festival took place over three days in August 1969.

Peace Car
A music fan at Woodstock in his car covered in anti-war slogans for love and peace.Three Lions/Getty Images

It was advertised as "Three Days of Peace and Music." Many famous musicians of the time played at the festival, including Santana, the Grateful Dead, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The people of Bethel, New York, were unprepared for the more than 400,000 people that showed up to the festival.

Woodstock HItchers
August 1969: Two young men in the boot of a car after hitching a lift home from the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair.Three Lions/Getty Images

Bethel is a small town in upstate New York that didn't have the infrastructure to deal with that many people. Apparently, the novice organizers were expecting around 50,000 attendees.

You'd think that in the 21st century, with so many rules and regulations surrounding festivals, it'd be impossible to have another miscalculation like that. But 2017's failed Fyre Festival proved that there are still some kinks in the festival business.

Woodstock attendees were called hippies which, at the time, was considered a derogatory term.

On The Road To Woodstock
This guy is wearing a brass-band jacket made popular by The Beatles.Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Being a hippie now is trendy — today, flower crowns, tie-dye, and meditation are staples of many an Instagram celebrity.

They had undeniable style, though.

Hippies Bardney Pop Festival
Hippies at the Bardney Pop Festival, in June of 1972.Evening Standard/Getty Images

These looks are timeless.

People drove from hundreds of miles away to check out Woodstock.

Concert-goers sit on the roof of a Volkswagen bus at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel, New York.AP Images

In the words of Max Yasgur, whose land was used for the festival, "You have proven something to the world... that half a million kids can get together for fun and music and have nothing but fun and music," Rolling Stone reported.

And climbed sound towers in order to get a better view.

Woodstock View
Festival-goers at Woodstock attempting to get a better view.Three Lions/Getty Images

Now, every festival is teeming with security guards — Woodstock patrons would say they ruin all the fun.

Jimi Hendrix's famous two-hour set was delayed for hours due to weather and technical issues. He was supposed to perform at midnight on Sunday but didn't play until 9 a.m. on Monday.

jimi hendrix woodstock
Jimi Hendrix.Peter Tarnoff/AP Images

The legendary guitarist's most famous performance, a blistering rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," took place at around 9 a.m. to a crowd of 200,000 people, the History Channel reported. More than half of the festival-goers had to leave before his performance.

Imagine if an artist played nine hours late now — it would never fly. We got a taste of that when Frank Ocean canceled his second Coachella performance after a disappointing first weekend, and it didn't go well.

The organizers of Woodstock provided free food, an unheard-of concept in 2024.

Woodstock 1969
A girl helps herself to a free food ration in the camp area at the Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York, on August 15, 1969.AP Images

Although ... the food originally wasn't supposed to be free. But when the food vendors were overwhelmed by the crowds, the people of Bethel and the rest of Sullivan County banded together to donate food, water, and supplies, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Compare that to a $17 chicken sandwich, and just try not to roll your eyes.

Woodstock was the beginning of a movement.

Woodstock 1969
A girl naps on top of her car, while trying to reach Woodstock.AP Images

Never before (or after) has there been such a peaceful gathering of that many people.

As Rolling Stone put it: "Woodstock pulled off the ultimate magic act of the 1960s: turning utter rain-soaked chaos into the greatest rock festival ever and the decade's most famous and successful experiment in peace and community."

Simply, it was just a really good time.

Woodstock 1969
Crowdsurfing.AP Images

There were zero reports of violence.

The popularity of the original Woodstock inspired Woodstock '94, in honor of the 25th anniversary.

Woodstock 1999
Doug, Fast Ed, and Stephen remind us what it was like at the original festival.Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images

It's hard to believe that Woodstock will be celebrating its 55th anniversary in 2024.

In 1994, in honor of 25 years, a new festival, Woodstock '94, took place in Saugerties, New York, around two hours from the original site.

The vibe was very similar to the original festival ... down to the lack of preparedness.

woodstock bus
This Microbus was at the original 1969 Woodstock Festival.Joe Traver/Reuters

The New York Times reported the crowds were again much higher than expected, but festival go-ers still had fun seeing classic '90s acts such as Sheryl Crow, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Cranberries.

Plus, there were some repeat guests from the original Woodstock: Santana, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Country Joe McDonald, Joe Cocker, and The Band.

The weather was also the same as the first Woodstock.

woodstock 94 peace sign
A giant peace sign made of bottles and cans lies in the mud near the north stage at the Woodstock '94 music festival August 14.Joe Traver/Reuters

It rained at both, which probably contributed to the chaos. Many people and acts alike played in the mud.

It looked like a lot of fun.

woodstock 94
Muddy festival-goers at the Woodstock '94 music festival.Rick Wilking/Reuters

If there was this type of rainstorm now, the festival might be canceled or postponed, like the third day of the 2016 Governor's Ball, the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, or the 2023 Burning Man disaster.

This picture could have been taken in 2024 — both crowdsurfing and overalls are popular today.

woodstock94 crowdsurfing
Victoria Rose, 17, of Long Island, New York, enjoys a ride across the crowd in front of the main stage at Woodstock '94.Stringer/Reuters

The '90s are making a comeback.

Another long-running music festival is the Newport Folk Festival. It's where Bob Dylan made the switch from acoustic to electric, changing the game forever.

pete seeger newport folk festival
Feature singer Pete Seeger blows on the chalil — a flute made of bamboo wood —during an instrument-making session on Children's Day at the Newport Folk Festival, July 21, 1966.J. Walter Green/AP Images

The Newport Folk Festival, located in Newport, Rhode Island, is decidedly less wild than many of its music festival counterparts — but that doesn't make it any less cool. It's one of the longest-running festivals in the US, having started in July 1959.

There was no shortage of hippies at the Newport Folk Festival either.

newport folk festival
A young woman combs her boyfriend's hair as they attend the Newport Folk Festival on July 24, 1965.AP Images

The 1965 lineup included Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, plus Bob Dylan's first electric performance, which resulted in boos and jeers, according to History.

Burning Man is another popular festival that has remained popular since its beginnings in 1986.

Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert
The 'Painted People' of San Francisco and New York, dance while wearing only paint for clothing at the 15th annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nevada.David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Burning Man isn't exactly a music festival. In its own words, it's "A city in the desert. A culture of possibility. A network of dreamers and doers."


The festival usually features a lot of characters, like these two attendees at the 2000 festival.

Burning Man Festival in Nevada Desert
A woman gets a chariot ride across the playa during the 15th annual Burning Man festival September 2, 2000.David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Burning Man is still going strong 38 years later. The 2024 festival is from August 25 to September 2.

Burning Man is named for its very own "Burning Man," a 52-foot-tall wooden man that is burned at the end of the festival.

Burning Man Festival in Nevada Desert
A dancer juggles fire in front of the 52-foot tall "Burning Man" statue as it goes up in flames on September 2, 2000.David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images

It's hard to believe that a festival would still be allowed to burn a gigantic wooden sculpture.

The "Man" is burned at the end of the week, but in the days leading up to the "Burn," people take advantage of the structure in many different ways.

burning man wedding
Keith Sullivan and Erica Muehsam exchange wedding vows in the shadow of the Man Saturday, August 30, 1997, at Burning Man.Sam Morris/AP Images

Keith Sullivan and Erica Muehsam got married underneath the Man in 1997, and they're not the only ones.

The Burning Man website has a guide on how to legally get married at the festival, since it happens so much. New York Magazine reported in 2015 that the wedding business at Burning Man was "booming."

The UK's biggest festival is Glastonbury Festival, which started in 1970.

glastonbury hippies
June 1971: Hippies at the second Glastonbury Festival celebrate the summer solstice with music and dancing.Ian Tyas/Keystone Features/Getty Images

As reported by The Telegraph, Glastonbury (affectionately called Glasto) is the largest greenfield festival in the world. Glasto reported 140,000 visitors in 2023. But it wasn't always that large.

The iconic Glastonbury pyramid stage made its first appearance in 1971.

Pyramid Stage
June 1971: The second annual Glastonbury music festival, which saw the first use of a pyramid stage.Ian Tyas/Keystone Features/Getty Images

The pyramid stage is still used at the festival to this day.

Why a pyramid? According to the Glastonbury website, "the apex projects energy upwards while energy from the stars and sun are drawn down" — a true hippie answer.

Before e-tickets and the internet, people camped out to get good spots.

vintage camping 70s
People camping ahead of a music festival in the '70s.Evening Standard/Stringer/Getty

Camping has changed a lot, too.

But the camping didn't end there ...

Vintage music festival Isle of Wight
Festival-goers camping at East Afton Farm during the Isle of Wight pop festival in August 1970.Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images

This was taken at the Isle of Wight Festival, also in England.

Back then, festival-goers even went without tents. All they needed was the music.

The Weeley Rock Festival
The Weeley Rock Festival near Clacton in Essex, UK, August 29, 1971.John Downing/Daily Express/Getty Images

Well, and a blanket.

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