The birth of music festivals in Ancient Greece (6th century BC)
“The Pythian Games in Delphi, Ancient Greece, are perhaps the earliest example of festivals involving music. One of the four Panhellenic Games, the Pythian Games, held in honour of Apollo (the god of music), were set apart from the pack by the fact that they hosted musical competitions known as mousikos agon, as well as the usual athletics and shows of strength. Founded sometime in the 6th century BC, the Pythian Games, a precursor of the Olympic Games, featured dance, art and musical displays. Moving into the 10th century BC, Greece was still the hotbed of musical happenings. Every spring, the three-day Festival of the Vine Flower bought talents in togas to the city of Athens. Even more enthusiastic about boozing than modern festival-goers, the Ancient Greeks started the party with a silent drinking contest before enjoying song and dance performances.
A festival fit for a German king (1876)
Germany’s Bayreuth Festival, which first began in 1876, owes its ongoing existence to the generosity of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Founded by composer Richard Wagner as a way to showcase his work, the event received start-up money from the crown and was attended by the king, as well as Kaiser Wilhlem I and Dom Pedro III of Brazil, in its debut year. In the darkest point of the festival’s history, Hitler used the event to warn the Unity Mitford of the oncoming war between Britain and Germany shortly before the beginning of WWII. Today, the annual festival, which takes place in the specially-designed Bayreuth Festspielhaus Theatre, is still considered a pilgrimage for Wagner enthusiasts, who often have to wait years for tickets.”