5 Largest Concerts in Florida History
Florida can be a tough place for outdoor venues since the weather is so unpredictable. However, there have been many musical acts who are willing to brave the elements in hopes that the Sunshine State lives up to its name. As a result, there are some concerts that have set attendance records in the state of Florida, with these five concerts and festivals pulling in the most concertgoers over the years.
Ultra Music Festival
In the late 1990s, Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes had an idea to start a music festival in the Miami area that would focus on the EDM genre. Back then, EDM was a very niche genre compared to what it is today. In 1999, the first ever Ultra Music Festival was held on Miami Beach but has changed venues several times since then. It was a small crowd at the time, with just 10,000 people showing up.
Things would change over the years, however, as the festival moved venues and EDM became more popular. For five years, the UMF was held at Bayfront Park and nearly quintupled in attendance. When the venue changed to Bicentennial Park, it reached 100,000 for the first time in 2011. After moving back to Bayfront Park, the Ultra Music Festival set new records with 170,000 in attendance.
Before the Buccaneers of the NFL called Raymond James Stadium their home (and built an awesome pirate ship in the stadium), they played their home games at Tampa Stadium. Locals started calling it the Big Sombrero thanks to its unique shape, and the venue had a lot of character before it was demolished in 1999.
The Big Sombrero was home to a lot of memorable concerts, but the one that really stood out was when Led Zeppelin came to town. At the time (1973), no other band was able to pull in that many people to one venue with 57,000 in attendance. When they returned four years later, there were 70,000 people, but the concert was cut short due to inclement weather. A riot ensued when the show was canceled, causing a black eye on the stadium’s history.
Garth Brooks (Multiple Times)
Garth Brooks has been a huge draw for pretty much his entire career, and since the 1990s has been selling out football stadiums across the United States, showing that he’s at a different level than most performers. There have been a couple of times in which Brooks has set attendance records in Florida, with one concert coming in Orlando while the other was in Gainesville.
When Brooks played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, more than 70,000 people turned out to sing along with him while he played his greatest hits. After the show, Brooks tweeted out “Orlando, I’ll say it again – YOU (expletive) ROCK!” As for his concert in Gainesville, Brooks set a new record with a crowd of 75,500 at the sold out Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, home of the Florida Gators football team.
Garth Brooks isn’t the only one to have a massive crowd show up at Camping World Stadium. When he kicked off his “World’s Hottest Tour” in 2022, Bad Bunny picked Orlando to be the place where he’d start it all. The venue didn’t have quite as many seats as Brooks’s concert due to the setup differences between the concerts, but Bad Bunny was still able to fill all 65,000 available seats.
Interestingly enough, one of the reasons that Bad Bunny chose Orlando is because he had spent a lot of time there while training for his match at WrestleMania. The WWE has a performance center in Orlando, and WrestleMania 37 was held in Tampa, allowing Bad Bunny to call the state his home for several months.
Miami Pop Festival
Psychedelic music was all the rage toward the end of the 1960s, and 1968 saw two massive festivals take place in Florida. The first Miami Pop Festival was held on May 18th and 19th at Gulfstream Park and brought out 25,000 people thanks to performers including the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Chuck Berry. The second iteration of the festival, though, drew in massive numbers compared to the original.
The other Miami Pop Festival took place during the final days of 1968, and this time brought in more than 100,000 people. Also held at Gulfstream Park, the second festival saw the return of Chuck Berry while also adding around two dozen more bands. This included Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, the Grateful Dead, and Three Dog Night.