Best Music Festivals in South America

Estero picnic
••• (c)Mauricio Torres

South America may not have a reputation as a location for great live music, but it is actually a continent filled with passionate music fans, and there are great music festivals held every year in the country.

One of the the key indicators that it is worth enjoying music there is seen by the number of big names who choose to film their live shows in Buenos Aires, with names such as Madonna, Megadeth and AC/DC all having filmed their live shows from the city.

Pleasant climates in some parts of the continent mean that festivals don't always have to be held in the summer, and there is a good selection throughout the year to enjoy.

Rock In Rio

This huge festival has been running intermittently for over thirty years since 1985, but over recent years it has been held in Rio de Janeiro every two years, with international versions complementing the schedule in the other years.

The festival is famous for being held over nine days, from one Friday in September through a full week until the following Sunday, with huge acts playing every day. Recent festivals have seen names such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, One Republic and Rod Stewart entertaining the crowds at the largest festival in South America.

Estereo Picnic, Bogota, Colombia

A festival that has been held annually since 2010, Estero Picnic in Bogota balances a great range of international names with providing exposure for local Colombian and South American acts as well.

The festival is held at the Parque 222 in the city, and includes three stages which host bands over a period of three days over a weekend in March. The rise of the festival has been reflected in the range of bands that have played in Colombia over the last couple of years, with the Kings of Leon, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Calvin Harris among those to have graced the stage here.  

Cosquin Folk Festival, Argentina

This festival is one of the oldest such events in South America, and has been hosted in the scenic town of Cosquin in the Cordoba province for over fifty years. Seizing the growth in popularity of folk music in the 1960s and 1970s it continued to draw large crowds, and extended to a nine day official festival in mid January. There are also performances by poets and artists in the weeks leading up to the festival in the town.

There are also plenty of art exhibits and performances of traditional folk dances, while the artists are mainly Argentine, with a sprinkling of international South American acts on the stage too.

Tomorrowland Brasil, Sao Paulo

Part of a greater series of international electronic dance music festivals, this event in Sao Paulo is one of the biggest such events on the continent, and draws international acts and DJs who come to entertain the huge crowds.

This festival is held in April every year over four days, with the options of camping or using the provided upmarket tent accommodation provided by the festival itself. The festival has a wonderful atmosphere of shared joy, and the costumes and make-up of some of the dancers are truly remarkable.

Lollapalooza, Santiago, Chile

There are Lollapalooza festivals that are held in South American cities across the continent every year, and Santiago is one of the biggest and most popular of these events, being held in the capital's O'Higgins Park.

The Lotus stage is home to exclusively Chilean acts, and there is plenty of domestic representation across the event, which is held during a mid March weekend every year. The festival also draws a large number of international acts to the annual event, but unlike some other festivals it is a two day festival, held on the Saturday and Sunday only.