Coffee BreakThis Is Why The Dutch Pinkpop Festival Is So Amazing


Last week we learned that on the 48th edition of Pinkpop Festival, acts like Green Day, Kings of Leon and Justin Bieber will take the stage. Every year the Dutch festival creates big international buzz. Why is that? We summarized the story of Pinkpop Festival within the time of one cup of coffee. In which a small country can be great.

I. The longest annual festival of the world

Pinkpop is the oldest annual festival in the world. It even has its own spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. The first edition was hosted on May 18th 1970. It was called Pinkpop, because it coincided with Pentecost, or in Dutch: 'Pinksteren'. The festival was insanely cheap in 1970. You could get a ticket for only Hlf 2, 50 (old Dutch Valuta called de Gulden). The festival managed to attract 10.000 visitors on the first edition. This was multiplied by five over the later years. Golden Earring headlined the festival. Another band who played that year was Live, and they are coming back this year too!

II. Growth

The Dutch are grown pretty accustomed to the fact that Pinkpop is a three days long. However that hasn’t always been that way. The first twenty-four editions were just one day. Only on their twenty-fifth birthday, the management decided that they would host it for one more day. But that didn’t made the festival any less great. From 1976 you could pop up a tent and camp, there was no program after you woke up however. Above all, it wasn’t about the length of the party but the bands that performed there. Artists and bands like: Dire Straits, Tom Petty, Lou Reid, Elvis Costello, The Police performed. This made Pinkpop unique. Especially in the early years. There was an explosive growth in visitors during the first five editions, but this hasn’t always been the case.

III. Competition

Back in 1982 Pinkpop got competition from stadium concerts. Why would you go to the festival if your favorite band is also playing in its own dedicated stadium tour? The previously sold out festival started to drain. The absolute low was in 1985, when Pinkpop had less visitors then on their second edition. Time to fix this. Director Jan Smeets and the biggest concert organization from the Netherlands called Mojo Concerts bundled their power. With great success: the next edition was sold flat! A very smart move on Smeets’ part, because Mojo was one of their biggest competitors. 

IV. The hype

Pinkpop was born because a lot of people wanted a local, Woodstock-like festival. And Pinkpop managed to maintain that vibe throughout the years. Jan Smeets once said in an interview back in 1970 that the first festival existed solely out of laid-back and very well behaved people who sat on the ground and enjoyed the music. They loved the atmosphere and loved each other’s company. If you look at footage from the first iterations you can see what he means. Smeets was astonished by the amount of beer the people could drink and the amount of frankfurters they could eat. The festival got more and more visitors each year – not counting the dip of 82 – and grew out to become Holland’s biggest music festival. A steady Pinkpop-goer will tell you that the relaxed Woodstock-vibe is still very much present. But it’s also sold out every year. This year will go very quick as well, Bieber is coming after all.

V. The 48th edition

Pinkpop is going to be great again this year. Pop music changes, and they know that. The organization manages to comply to this change almost every year. And it’s not easy to book an artist like Justin Bieber. The hype will be immense this time, resulting in a quickly sold out festival. Pinkpop is some kind of a homecoming for many bands. That’s why public favorites will return this year again. The band Live, who also played the very first edition, will be attending this year again for their only European show of 2017, alongside veterans like Liam Gallagher (Oasis) and Richard Ashcroft (The Verve). Not to mention the many talented Dutch bands. But Pinkpop is also a nice icebreaker for international bands. That’s why everyone should look out for these hidden gems. That’s what makes festivals so great after all!


There's an incredible amount of artists and bands on this planet. Sometimes they make it to the news, yet you don't really know who they really are. 'Coffeebreak' to the rescue. In one cup of coffee, we give you a crash course: five keytracks with five paragraphs of explanation. After that you can safely join all coffee machine conversations.
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