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Rock Werchter is a Belgianmarker annual music festival held in the village of Werchtermarker, near Brusselsmarker, since 1974. It is one of the four biggest annual rock music festivals in Europe (the other three being the Sziget Festivalmarker, the Glastonbury Festivalmarker and Roskilde Festivalmarker). The 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 festivals received the Arthur award for best festival in the world at International Live Music Conference (ILMC). It can host 80.000 guests, of which 69.000 combine all four days, to add up to a total of 113.000 different attendees.

The festival started in 1974 as a one-day event with performances from Banzai and Kandahar, but over the years it has evolved to become Belgium's largest music festival. Originally it was a double-festival, called "Torhout-Werchter", with two festival areas at different sites in Belgium: one in Werchter and one in Torhoutmarker. In 1999, the festival dropped the Torhout site and since then has taken place only in Werchter. Since 2003 Werchter has been a 4-day festival, as it was sold by owner Herman Schueremans to American organizers Live Nation. Schueremans however remains the main organiser of the event.

In recent years, there has been controversy about rising ticket prices. Because of this, Schueremans was heckled during an appearance on HUMO's Pop Poll, a Belgian alternative award show. At 169€ for four days (17€ extra to include camping) in 2008 it is considered a relatively inexpensive music festival.

The camping sites officially open at 8am on the first day of the festival, but because of guests arriving early and camping on the street, the organizers have traditionally been forced to open the camping sites early - sometimes more than 24 hours. The campings are located along the three main entrance road in Werchter (from Haachtmarker, Aarschotmarker and Leuvenmarker), most of them within 1 kilometer of the festival site but some located as far as 3 kilometers away.

Until the 1990s the festival attracted mostly Flemish and few Dutchmarker people, but in recent years it has become more and more international (with an especially large influx of Dutch people, Walloons and Britishmarker). Belgian alternatives remain in the Pukkelpop and Dour festivals.


The festival started off as a one-day event, became a two-day festival in 1996, a 3-day festival in 2000, and has been a 4-day festival since 2003.

Before 1995, when the festival was still a double-festival, it had one stage with 8 or 9 bands performing twice, once in Torhoutmarker and once in Werchtermarker. Since 1995 the Main stage was accompanied by a second stage. This stage was an open air stage until 1999 when it was made a tent named 'Pyramid Marquee', with a capacity of 6,000 people. The performers in Pyramid Marquee are usually lesser-known or aimed at a specific audience. Sometimes groups that do well in Pyramid Marquee are expected to have a hard time taking the step to the Main stage, especially when they are seen as an act needing intimate, smaller venues. Sigur Rós is the most famous example of this, when they were programmed on Main Stage in 2008 after their 2006 performance in Pyramid Marquee, but they managed the transition and were hailed as one the best performances of the festival.

Inside Pyramid Marquee

The bands presented at Rock Werchter are traditionally a balanced mix of large well known artists, popular crowd-pleasing acts and local Belgian coming acts. Belgian band dEUS in 2008 was the first local band to close the Main Stage on the last day since several years. The days usually start around noon, expect for the first day, which starts around 4pm. Most performances last from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. The days end around 1am, but when the last act is a dance act they sometimes last until 3am or later. At the end of the last day there is a big fireworks show.

Satellite festivals

TW Classic

Since 2002, the organizers created TW Classic as a tribute to the early days of Rock Werchter. TW Classic ('TW' as in Torhout-Werchter, is the traditional abbreviation of the festival) is a one day/one stage festival held one week before the main event. It usually programs veteran acts like Phil Collins, The Police or Simple Minds, supplemented with younger mainstream Belgian acts.

Werchter Boutique

This new festival was created in 2008 and organised one week after the main festival. It mainly aims at complete families with acts for children, teenagers as well as adults. The main acts in 2008 were Tokio Hotel, Santana and Doe Maar. In 2009 it will be centered around a concert of Madonna during her Sticky & Sweet Tour. 68,000 tickets were sold for the concert, making it an incredible one-day sell-out event.

Main Square Festival

Since 2008, the organisers created a small version of Rock Werchter on the central square of Arrasmarker, in northern Francemarker. It is held on the same dates as Rock Werchter, with a similar line-up - which is an advantage for organisers as they can offer artists two shows instead of one. Arras was chosen as a location because of it's large historic central square and because of the lack of big rock festivals in France.

Festival by year

Year Dates Guests per day (avg) Main artists Notes
1977 5,000 Philip Catherine, Jan Akkerman, Kayak & Dr. Feelgood
1978 6,000 Talking Heads, Dr. Feelgood, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds & Rockpile
1979 12,000 Raymond van het Groenewoud, Talking Heads, Dire Straits & Rory Gallagher
1980 18,000 Kevin Ayers, Fischer-Z, The Specials & The Kinks
1981 23,500 Elvis Costello and the Attractions, The Cure, Robert Palmer & Dire Straits
1982 37,500 U2, Steve Miller Band, Talking Heads & Jackson Browne
1983 36,000 Eurythmics, Simple Minds, U2, Peter Gabriel & Van Morrison
1984 55,000 Chris Rea, John Hiatt, Joe Jackson, Simple Minds & Lou Reed
1985 57,500 Ramones, R.E.M., Depeche Mode, U2 & Joe Cocker
1986 60,000 Simply Red, Talk Talk, UB40, Elvis Costello & the Attractions & Simple Minds
1987 60,000 Iggy Pop, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Pretenders, Eurythmics & Peter Gabriel
1988 60,000 Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers, Los Lobos, John Hiatt, INXS, Bryan Adams & Sting
1989 50,000 Texas, Pixies, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Elvis Costello, R.E.M. & Lou Reed
1990 60,000 Lenny Kravitz, Ry Cooder/David Lindley, Sinéad O'Connor, Midnight Oil, Bob Dylan & The Cure
1991 50,500 Happy Mondays, Bonnie Riatt, Pixies, Iggy Pop, Paul Simon & Sting
1992 60,000 The Smashing Pumpkins, Crowded House, Lou Reed, Red Hot Chili Peppers & Bryan Adams
1993 60,000 Sonic Youth, Faith No More, Neil Young with Booker T & the MG’s, Lenny Kravitz & Metallica
1994 50,500 Tool, Therapy?, Sepultura, Rage Against the Machine, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd & Aerosmith
1995 65,000 Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey, The Offspring, The Cure, The Cranberries & R.E.M. Second stage added
1996 50,000 David Bowie, Chemical Brothers, Afghan Wigs, Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Björk & Neil Young & Crazy Horse First time as a two-day festival. First time ever Radiohead played Paranoid Android.
1997 50,000 David Bowie, Daft Punk, Supergrass, Live, Radiohead, Jamiroquai, The Smashing Pumpkins, Beck & dEUS
1998 20,000 Sonic Youth, Eagle Eye Cherry, Garbage, Therapy?, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Beastie Boys & Björk
1999 3 – 4 July 51,500 Pavement, Blur, Marilyn Manson, Placebo, Robbie Williams, Faithless, Lenny Kravitz & R.E.M. First time in Werchter only
2000 30 June – 2 July 55,000 Nine Inch Nails, Oasis, Bush, A Perfect Circle, Counting Crows, The Cure & Eels First time as a three-day festival
2001 29 June – 1 July 60,000 Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Sting, Beck, Placebo, PJ Harvey, Muse, Sigur Rós, Grandaddy, Faithless, Coldplay, Incubus
2002 28 – 30 June 63,000 Sonic Youth, The White Stripes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rammstein, Queens of the Stone Age, Faithless & Coldplay
2003 26 – 29 June 70,000 Radiohead, Björk, Massive Attack, Moby, Metallica, Queens of the Stone Age, R.E.M. & Coldplay First time as a four-day-festival
Arthur award for Best festival in the world
2004 1 – 4 July 70,000 The Cure, Metallica, KoЯn, Lenny Kravitz, Pixies, Muse, 2 Many DJ's, Placebo & Moloko Headliner David Bowie cancelled because of a shoulder injury. 2 Many DJ's were flewn back from the UEFA Euro 2004 Final in Lisbon to replace him.
2005 30 June – 3 July 80,000 The Chemical Brothers, Green Day, Kraftwerk, Queens of the Stone Age, Snoop Dogg, Faithless, Rammstein, Foo Fighters & R.E.M. Arthur award for Best festival in the world
2006 29 June – 2 July 80,000 Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Eyed Peas, The Who, Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Placebo, dEUS & Depeche Mode Arthur award for Best festival in the world
2007 28 June – 1 July 80,000 Muse, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Pearl Jam, The Chemical Brothers, Metallica, Queens of the Stone Age & Faithless Arthur award for Best festival in the world. Pearl Jam finally played at the festival after cancellations in 1992 (Eddie Vedder's stress collapse) and 2000 (drama at Roskilde).
2008 3 – 6 July 80,000 The Chemical Brothers, R.E.M., Moby, Neil Young, Radiohead, Sigur Rós, dEUS, Beck & Kaiser Chiefs The ILMC (who gives the Arthur Awards) changed her restrictions, a festival which has won 2 years in a row can't enter the next year. This change has been done in favour of the other festivals.
2009 2 – 5 July 80,000 Coldplay, The Killers, Placebo, Metallica, Kings of Leon, Oasis, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand & Nine Inch Nails

Recent Years


Day 1: Underworld, Radiohead, Björk

Day 2: Massive Attack, Moby, Ozark Henry, The Roots, Feeder, Morgan Heritage, The Polyphonic Spree

Day 3: Metallica, Arno, Queens of the Stone Age, Anouk, Xzibit, Millionaire, Stone Sour, 't Hof van Commerce, Krezip

Day 4: R.E.M., Coldplay, Counting Crows, Cypress Hill, The Cardigans, Supergrass, Stereophonics, De la Soul, Das Pop


Muse at Werchter Festival 2004
The festival shared bands with Roskilde Festivalmarker in Denmarkmarker which was held at the same time.

Day 1: Basement Jaxx, The Cure, Pink, Sean Paul, Michael Franti & Spearhead

Day 2: Metallica, KoЯn, The Darkness, Dropkick Murphys, Monster Magnet, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lostprophets

Day 3: Lenny Kravitz, Muse, Moloko, Wu-Tang Clan, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The Black Eyed Peas, Within Temptation, Heideroosjes, The Rasmus

Day 4: 2 Many DJ's, Placebo, Pixies, PJ Harvey, Lamb, Starsailor, Zornik, Danko Jones

David Bowie was meant to headline the festival but had to cancel.


Day 1: The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, Snoop Dogg, Ozark Henry, New Order, The Bravery

Day 2: Faithless, Green Day, Velvet Revolver, Garbage, Within Temptation, Jimmy Eat World, K.T. Tunstall, Simple Plan

Day 3: Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Audioslave, The Game, 't Hof van Commerce, Daan, Pennywise, Therapy?

Day 4: R.E.M., Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Soulwax, Keane, Feeder, Kane, Flogging Molly


The Who at Werchter Festival 2006
Day 1: Matisyahu, Deftones, Manu Chao Radio Bemba Sound System, Kaizers Orchestra, Death Cab for Cutie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Eyed Peas, Tool, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, The Streets, Roger Sanchez

Day 2: The Who, Muse, Skin, Kanye West, Editors, Live, Anouk.The Kooks, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Elbow, Mogwai, Radio Soulwax presents: Vitalic, Soulwax Nite Versions, Tiga, 2 Many DJ's

Day 3: Wolfmother, Arsenal, Kelis, Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, Placebo, dEUS, Donavon Frankenreiter, Arctic Monkeys, Goldfrapp, Sigur Rós

Day 4: Absynthe Minded, Eels, Starsailor, Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Hooverphonic, Depeche Mode, Collective Soul, Bettye LaVette, An Pierlé & White Velvet, Laurent Garnier & Bugge Wesseltoft featuring Philippe Nadaud, Super Discount, Hard-Fi


Day 1:

Main Stage: Billy Talent, Zornik, My Chemical Romance, Marilyn Manson, Björk, Muse

Pyramid Marquee: Milowmarker, Air Traffic, Air, Rufus Wainwright, Beastie Boys, Dr. Lektroluv

Day 2:

Main Stage: The Van Jets, Enter Shikari, Kings of Leon, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Pearl Jam

Pyramid Marquee: Jason Mraz, Oi Va Voi, Joan As Policewoman, Sioen, Lily Allen, Admiral Freebee, Satellite Party, Gabriel Rios
Day 3:

Main Stage: Heideroosjes, Razorlight, Amy Winehouse, Snow Patrol, The Killers, Peter Gabriel, Keane, The Chemical Brothers

Pyramid Marquee: The Bravery, The Hold Steady, Blonde Redhead, Klaxons, Goose, Arno, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, LCD Soundsystem

Day 4:

Main Stage: !!!, Mastodon, The Kooks, Interpol, Incubus, Metallica, Faithless

Pyramid Marquee: Stijn, Cold War Kids, Maxïmo Park, John Legend, Frank Black, Damien Rice, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Tori Amos


Day 1:

Main Stage: The Chemical Brothers, R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz, Mika, Counting Crows, Air Traffic

Pyramid Marquee: 2manydjs, Soulwax, Shameboy, The National, Vampire Weekend, Modern Skirts

Day 2:

Main Stage: Moby, Neil Young, The Verve, Jay-Z, Babyshambles, Slayer, Monza, The Black Box Revelation

Pyramid Marquee: Digitalism, Hot Chip, Zita Swoon, Duffy, My Morning Jacket, Ben Folds, Patrick Watson, The Cool Kids

Babyshambles canceled and were replaced by Air Traffic.

Day 3:

Main Stage: Radiohead, Sigur Rós, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Kings of Leon, Editors, The Hives, Gossip, The Whigs

Pyramid Marquee: Róisín Murphy, Gnarls Barkley, MGMT, Kate Nash, KT Tunstall, Galactic, Band of Horses, Donavon Frankenreiter

Day 4:

Main Stage: dEUS, The Black Box Revelation, Anouk, Beck, Kaiser Chiefs, The Raconteurs, The Kooks, Panic at the Disco, The John Butler Trio

Pyramid Marquee: Nightwish, Underworld, Justice, Grinderman, Mark Ronson, Hercules and Love Affair, Tim Vanhamel, DeVotchKa


The most recent schedule looks like this:

Day 1:

Main Stage: The Prodigy, Oasis, Placebo, Dave Matthews, Lily Allen, Eagles Of Death Metal

Pyramid Marquee: Tiga, Pendulum, Laurent Garnier, Fleet Foxes, Emiliana Torrini, Expatriate

Day 2:

Main Stage: Coldplay, The Killers, Bloc Party, Elbow, Amy Macdonald, White Lies, Just Jack

Pyramid Marquee: Lady Gaga, Arsenal, Jason Mraz, The Streets, M.Ward, Priscilla Ahn, Henry Rollins - Spoken Word

Day 3:

Main Stage: 2ManyDjs, Kings of Leon, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Franz Ferdinand, Limp Bizkit, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Social Distortion, Triggerfinger

Pyramid Marquee: Boys Noize, Grace Jones, Katy Perry, Mogwai, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Regina Spektor, Jasper Erkens

Day 4:

Main Stage: Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Kaiser Chiefs, Black Eyed Peas, The Mars Volta, Seasick Steve, Mastodon, Metro Station

Pyramid Marquee: Milk Inc, Röyksopp, Ghinzu, The Script, Lady Linn & Her Magnificent Seven, De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, The Hickey Underworld

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