We all remember the unsettled, ever-changing, and historic period that’s become known as The Sixties (and that actually included the early 1970s).
One of the most memorable and influential events during this period? The Woodstock Festival, formally known as the Woodstock Music & Art Festival.
It was billed as “three days of peace and music,” but it was a lot more than that. It was the defining weekend for a generation, and one of the first of many large-scale music festivals that now take place all over the world for all kinds of music.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, we highly recommend you take a look at the photos in this gallery. And if you’re still feeling the groove, we suggest following up with this recording of Joni Mitchell singing “California.”
Take a stroll down memory lane — or at least vicarious memory lane — of this now-historic event with these photos that almost capture the scale and energy of the festival.
If you or someone you know were in attendance, let us know your psychedelic story in the comments!
The Woodstock festival was modeled after several smaller music festivals that had taken place elsewhere in the country. It actually didn't take place in the town of Woodstock, NY, but rather on a rented farm in Bethel, about 60 miles away.
People turned out by the tens of thousands, causing major traffic jams. In addition, the huge turnout meant that the facilities were overwhelmed, and festival-goers faced food and water shortages. They were okay with that, though.
While waiting to get in, many people found creative ways to entertain themselves.
People came from all over for the music and the community and were more than happy to put up with some discomfort — which also included a considerable amount of rain, which resulted in a lot of mud.
They set up campsites and established hangout spots, complete with cute signs like this. "High" Way. Get it?
And of course there was plenty of tie-dye to go around.
In fact, the fashion is one of the best parts. It's funny how trends come and go and come back again, isn't it?
At its peak, attendance was estimated to be 400,000 people. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially with all the mud, but the crowds mainly remained peaceful and positive.
For some, the festival also provided a cultural and spiritual angle. This photo shows Swami Satchidananda, a religious teacher and yogi who spoke at the festival, supporting a philosophy of peace and love.
And then, of course, there was the music. Here's Richie Havens, known for an epically long improvisational performance.
Woodstock was notable for being very loose in terms of security. While activities like this probably wouldn't be allowed today, attendees were generally lucky in their adventures. Two deaths were actually recorded: one was a heroin overdose and one happened when a tractor accidentally ran over an attendee sleeping in a nearby hay field. There were also four miscarriages. But there was at least one birth, too!
Music played all night and included such now-classic bands as Jefferson Airplane, who famously went on at 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
Because everyone had been partying all night, the very tired bands played to a very tired audience. But they still put on a show!
Joan Baez also performed at about 1 a.m. on Friday night, and she was six months pregnant at the time.
Janis Joplin and her newly-minted Kozmic Blues Band went on at 2 a.m. on Saturday night. And can we just talk about those pants for a moment?
True to form, Janis partied the whole time and still delivered onstage.
After Janis, Sly and the Family Stone took the stage.
Jimi Hendrix was the last performance, taking the stage at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, after many of the attendees had already left. The crowd was significantly smaller by the time he performed, but his psychedelic rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" remains famous to this day.
A crowd of nearly half a million with few bathrooms, no showers, and lots of rain could have turned out really badly, but the kids held it together.
There was lots of dancing.
And lots of love. And it certainly made an indelible mark on American culture.
Now that you’re feeling mellow (and maybe a little grimy), take a moment to reflect on your favorite moments from the past.
But don’t stay there too long — there are all kinds of amazing things happening right now!
But you can spread the love by SHARING.