Billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event, Woodstock 50 will take place Aug. 16-18 in Watkins Glen, New York. Organized by Michael Lang, the festival will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original 1969 Woodstock festival, which was also co-founded by Lang. Watkins Glen International Speedway, the location for Woodstock 50, is about 90 minutes east of where the iconic festival took place half a century ago. Nonprofit organization Bethel is planning a separate tribute sponsored by Live Nation at the original site.
While a full lineup has yet to be announced, Billboard has confirmed a number of headliners for the first-time festival, including Grateful Dead off-shoot Dead and Company, Santana and The Killers. Imagine Dragons and Chance the Rapper are also slated to take the Woodstock 50 stage, with more acts to be officially confirmed soon. More than 80 bands and artists are expected to perform at the three-day event.
It’s a Risky Move
Even with the name recognition and building media hype, Woodstock 50 is viewed as something of a risk by music industry insiders for numerous reasons. Without backing from a major promoter like AEG or Live Nation, most acts insist on receiving 100 percent of their fee upfront before taking the stage. Following reports last week that the festival was having issues paying certain artists the entirety of their fee, representatives for Woodstock 50 confirmed that as of Monday (March 4) all artists had been paid in full.
There’s also the question of upstate New York’s notoriously unpredictable weather with a festival centered around mass camping sites for attendees. Both the original Woodstock festival and Woodstock 25 were plagued by thunderstorms and giant mudslides in late August. Additionally, the area surrounding Watkins Glen has minimal infrastructure to support the 100,000 fans expected to attend the 50th anniversary event, with few hotels in close proximity.