When it comes to music events many people are unsure about the difference between a music festival and a concert. Although both have music, a large crowd and alcohol we wanted to explore what the real differences are between the two and what you can expect when you book a ticket to either one. So lets look at the Difference Between a Festival and a Concert.
What’s the Difference Between a Festival and a Concert?
Music events come in all shapes and sizes from your small intimate pub venue to your massive green field festivals attracting thousands of people. Musicians have been keeping us entertained for thousands of years from animal skin drums around campfires right up to the modern concert experiences with pyrotechnics and laser light shows. As music lovers we have never had so much choice when it comes to the way we enjoy our live music. The two most popular forms of live music entertainment are your music concert and festivals.
What is a Music Concert?
The music concert has been around for hundreds of years and originally would have been classical music played in large halls. It would have been a very posh event with finely dressed music lovers found drinking the finest drinks and eating the finest foods. Seated in a large hall facing a stage concert goers would sit through an hour or two of beautifully played live music, often the light was poor or smokey due to the use of candles. The acoustics of the hall or venue was very important as there were no speaker systems to help amplify the sound. This meant that concert halls were designed specially for the playing of live music.
With the modern era came amplified speaker systems and lights that could do anything a light engineer dreamed of. Suddenly concerts were capable of being put on anywhere. From local pubs to village halls all the way to massive football stadiums or large playing fields.
Bands realised that if they could play to bigger audience they could put on quite a show and charge a premium for the privilege. Probably one of the most well known bands to really push the music concert forward were ‘The Grateful Dead’ who took there show on tour regularly. Their speaker system named ‘The wall of sound’ was a pioneering system which at the time was the biggest live speaker setup and created one of the loudest concerts known. It really changed the way a music concert could be heard as other bands soon took note of the way the band were doing things.
Hawkwind are well known for their laser shows as is Pink Floyd. Both these bands pushed the boundary of light shows to create a concert experience that music lovers would love and other bands would try and better.
Concerts are normally a one band show, that is to say the headliners are the ones the crowd are there for as it is their tour. There are often support acts that are usually up and coming new artists or with bigger headlining bands the support would be another well known band.
What is a Music Festival?
A music festival is often a large scale event held outdoors in a green field, of late they have become better known as green field festivals with the festival taking place over a long weekend. Music festivals really started life in the 1960’s with the hippie movement. Those hippie guys and girls knew how to have a good time and their love of live music gave birth to a whole new way to experience music. With the advent of open air festivals something changed with the way we celebrated music. Suddenly there was an opportunity to party and listen to music for four or five days. Musical festivals like Glastonbury and Woodstock paved the way for long weekends camped out in green fields listening to a collection of amazing bands. Festivals have now become mini cities with accommodation, shops and entertainment spread out over a long weekend. With festivals drawing millions of people to their gates each year in the UK alone we have come to love these wonderful places of art and entertainment.
What are the differences between the two?
High on the list of differences is the fact that a concert is a one day event and so unlike festivals does not including camping. Camping is a major part of festival life, with people pitching their tents and staying out the whole weekend. This is one of the draws to a music festival as it really give you that chance to detach from everyday life and just get away from things for a bit.
Although concerts are getting bigger as stadiums have become a great venue for large popular bands to showcase their live music most of the time you will find a festival is larger. For example Glastonbury has nearly 200,000 (140,000 ticket holders with the rest made up of staff and bands) people onsite each day. The biggest stadium events tend to be for around 80,000 ticket holders.
A festival tends to last at least 2 days with many being around 3-4 days. A concert is normally a one day event based around one major band. The start time tends to be around mid to late afternoon and finishes around 11pm, whereas a festival will have music from around midday until at least 11pm with some dance festivals going later.
Where a concert will only have one stage that the support acts and then main headliner perform on a festival with have multiple stages spread throughout the festival site. This means a festival can cater to different musical tastes by having different stages that are set up to play different styles of music to the other stages. For example dance stage, jazz and world music stages can be found at many large festivals as well as the main and other (2nd largest) stage.
Although there are headliners at a festival quite often live music can be found from around midday each day on at least one or more stages. As the festival is not built around one band like a music concert you’ll find a great range of music from around the world. During one festival weekend there could be hundreds of live bands, comedians and entertainers whereas at a concert you’ll most likely have around 4 support acts and then the main headliner.
At a festival you will find food from all corners of the world with popular dishes like falafel and pitta bread, noodles from the noodle bars and halloumi. Of course the more traditional burgers, hot dogs and chips are also always available. A concert tends to have a smaller choice of food depending on the location. Some concerts do lean towards becoming more like mini festivals but in general your choice will be limited in comparison to a full blown festival.
What people wear:
You might think that people tend to wear the same thing at a concert compared to a festival but if you’ve spent time at either you’ll notice some differences. When people go to a concert they are paying to see one band which are the headliners. This means that you’ll see many people wearing band t-shirts or styles that are similar to the kind of music the band represents. So for an 80’s rock band you’ll see more denim and long rocker hair where as at a Chase & Status event you’ll probably see guys with shorter hair, jeans or joggers and t-shirts. This isn’t to say that people will not be wearing all sorts of different styles because whenever you bring a large group of people together you will always get great variety.
When it comes to festival clothing you’ll find it’s quite a mix as there are so many different musical styles meeting in one place. People like to wear fancy dress or grab their hippie clothing out the cupboard, it really is a great mix of clothing styles with people from all walks of life getting along.
There is nothing better then watching your favourite band whether its at a festival or at a concert. You’ll find that the atmosphere at both is amazing. Of course with a concert you have a dedicated fan base as the main reason people buy tickets is to see the headliner. As there is only one headliner you’re going to have a lot of people you have something in common with.
Because there are so many bands playing at a festival you still get a great atmosphere but people are there for more than one band and could just be watching a band for a filler while they wait for their band to come on, this means you don’t get the same vibe you’d get at a concert the further away you get from the stage.
Festivals aren’t just great places to listen to music and eat food, they are also full of wonderful shops and stalls with all kinds of wired and wonderful items from clothing to musical instruments. With healing tents offering massages or aura healing to all kinds of interesting stalls for you to investigate. Concerts for the most part tend to only offer official merchandise without the added bonus of extra shops. The market area of a festival is a hive of activity with people browsing the stalls, stopping for a bite to eat or having a drink from one of the many vendors.
Can I Wear My Festival Clothing?
When it comes to your choice of clothing for either event we have always preached that you should wear whatever feels most comfortable. Some people will go for the band t-shirt whereas others will not want to wear anything with band names on. If you love wearing festival clothing then you can wear this to a festival or a concert and you will find you fit in quite well with the mix of people.
Whatever music event you are going to you are in for a treat as there are lots to keep you entertained, with great music, good food and drink as well as the company of so many music lovers.