Woodstock Festival gets two competing 50th anniversary celebrations in upstate New York

January 9, 2019

by Carla Hay

Woodstock Festival logo

Get ready for the battle of the Woodstock 50th anniversary concerts. In one corner is the official Woodstock 50th Anniversary concert, called Woodstock 50, which is produced by Woodstock Ventures (whose founder is original Woodstock promoter Michael Lang), and will take place August 16 to August 18, 2019, at the Watkins Glen International race track in Watkins Glen, New York. The other festival (whose name is to be announced) is produced by Bethel Woods Center for the Arts,  Live Nation and brand communications agency INVNT, and will take place August 15 to August 17, 2019, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (the site of the original Woodstock Festival) in Bethel Woods, New York. The Watkins Glen venue is larger (with a capacity of 39,000) than the Bethel Woods venue, which has a capacity of about 15,000.

Artists performing at the festivals and ticket details are to be announced, but it is sure to be a fierce competition between the two festivals to get the biggest names involved.  Woodstock 50 is expected to have a mix of contemporary acts  as well as heritage acts, and is the festival that is more likely to have any of the major original Woodstock artists who still regularly perform live. The Woodstock-inspired festival with Live Nation sounds like it will try to have more of of a Coachella Festival atmosphere, that promises to be a “pan-generational cultural event [that] will feature live music, TED-style talks and special exhibits,” according to an announcement.

Several media outlets are reporting that most of the hotels and other housing rentals in the area are already booked up, in anticipation of the two festivals.

The original Woodstock Festival took place August 15 to 18, 1969, and had an estimated attendance of 400,000 people. Artists on the bill included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Santana and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The original Woodstock Festival is widely considered to be the most important live music event of the 1960s. The official “Woodstock” documentary film won an Oscar.

A 25th anniversary Woodstock Festival called Woodstock ’94 took place in 1994 in Saugerties, New York. The performers included Aerosmith, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Bob Dylan, Santana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Crosby, Stills & Nash. A more controversial 30th anniversary Woodstock Festival (which included numerous incidents of assaults, vandalism, theft and arson) called Woodstock ’99 took place in 1999 in Rome, New York. Woodstock ’99’s lineup included Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bush, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Santana, Creed, Megadeth, the Chemical Brothers and Alanis Morissette.