Woodstock Photos That Will Make You Wish You Were There

When you think of the summer of 1969, you automatically think of Woodstock. It was the iconic moment in music history that changed it all. We’ve rounded up dozens of rare Woodstock photos that show you exactly what it was like to be in the crowd.
Getty Images Photo by Owen Franken
Getty Images Photo by Owen Franken
Woodstock was all about peace and love and fashion. Fashion trends spanning from bohemian, to hippie, and everything in between, shaped fashion for decades to come. Over 30 performances from iconic musicians made people come from near and far to be a part of this spectacle. Woodstock completely changed the lives of everyone who was there to witness it.

Arts & Crafts

Woodstock wasn’t just about music – it was called the Music & Art Fair Festival. The incredible festival was a place for people to come together and express themselves through music and art. This woman was the ultimate example of bohemian fashion with a dainty leather crop top, festive headband, and bracelets.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

She seems to have sat down on the grass to create some art. It looks like a tapestry of some sort. Maybe she gave away her beautiful creations to others attending the festival or maybe she was making them to sell. We will never know, but what we do know is her style was spot on.

Peace and Bubbles

It seems so amazing that almost 500,000 people traveled to Woodstock to get a taste of this once in a lifetime experience. Most of the attendees hung out at the festival with a friend, or group of friends, and it seemed that others wanted to experience the magic of Woodstock on their own and savor it all quietly.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

In this iconic photo of a young woman named Jackie Barg – she is seen sitting at the festival alone. She is having so much fun blowing bubbles all by herself while waiting anxiously for the next musician to start performing! No better way to pass the time alone then by entertaining others with bubbles.

Food For Love

The people who came to Woodstock were all about unity.  They loved to share their belongings and supplies with all of the other Woodstock attendees. Sharing was extremely important to the people at Woodstock. This photo captures the true essence of unity, with this free spirit cooking meals for the festival-goers at Woodstock.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

The number of people that came to Woodstock surpassed the number anyone could have imagined. Because of this, there was a severe shortage of food and other important necessities. People had a hard time giving up their spots and they did not want to have to make their way through the huge crowds (and sometimes mud and rain) to get nourishment, so they set up shop where ever they were so that they could feed everyone.

Some Shut-Eye

The festival was put on at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm.  No one expected that over 400,000 people would attend the festival. This oversight resulted in traffic backups and not nearly enough space inside for all of the people.

Getty Images Photo by Owen Franken

This man, like so many other people who came to Woodstock, resorted to using his car as a bed because it was far too hot to sleep anywhere else. Some people were lucky enough to have supplies and built tents and forts with sleeping bags. Space was extremely limited on the ground, which meant most people had to find their vehicles. The next problem was actually finding their cars… The traffic was so severe that some people could not even get to their vehicles.

Rocking with Jimi Hendrix

There were over 30 musicians set to perform on the stage at Woodstock. Jimi Hendrix was one of them. He headlined the festival – and only performed for about 30,000 attendees. Unfortunately, since he was last, most people had already gone home due to the unfavorable weather conditions, such as rain and extreme heat.

Alamy Stock Photo, Photo by Peter Tarnoff/MediaPunch

Jimi Hendrix earned the most money out of anyone who performed at Woodstock. He walked away with $18,000. The performance lasted for two amazing hours. It has been said that this performance at Woodstock went down in history for him and his band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows.

Wrapped Up in Love

1969 was a difficult time for a lot of people. It was a political era in which people struggled a lot. Woodstock gave people a glimmer of hope during a hard time. For that reason, this iconic photo became the most memorable. These two love birds are now 69 years old.  Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline were dating at the time of Woodstock, and they quickly became Woodstock icons. The lovers stand there, experiencing a beautiful sunrise, and it just speaks volumes.

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The couple represented so much to so many. What the two felt in this photo, everyone else around them seemed to feel as well. A photographer from Magnum took this candid shot, which they will forever treasure, since Bobbi and Nick eventually got married and had children together. At the time of the photo, Jefferson Airplane was performing, and the couple was enjoying the moment,taking in the music and the experience.

Sway Your Hair Like You Don’t Care

Woodstock was not advertised as a music festival per se. It was said it was marketed as a weekend in the country, which makes sense since it was on a farm. It was a span of days filled with 32 hit musicians performing. Non-Stop partying, arts and crafts, peace and love, and 60’s fashion. There had never been anything like it.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

In this photo, a girl with the iconic hippie hair of that time period, is partying and dancing to the music. Everyone who attended Woodstock was convinced that music was the way to bring peace and love to the world. Luckily for us, we get to experience the magic thanks to the photographers at the festival who captured every moment.

Hanging with The Pearl

Nobody really knew how big Woodstock was going to be. Not even Janis Joplin a.k.a. the pearl. She found out about the festival just a couple of days prior. Thankfully, she did not have another commitment, and her and her band said yes to the performance. When she told her band they had a gig, she did not make it a big deal because she did not know how big of a deal it really was. It was not until they arrived and saw the number of people in the crowd that they realized what a big thing this was.

Getty Images Photo by Elliott Landy/Redferns

Janis Joplin was among the performers who performed on day two of Woodstock. She was also one of the biggest stars to perform. Despite her star status, Janis and her band did not leave after their iconic performance. They stayed at the festival until the end, to experience it all.

The Who’s Who

People all over knew about Woodstock. There was a huge hype surrounding it before it even happened. So it is no surprise that celebrities were among the crowd attending Woodstock. They wanted to be a part of the action just as much as everyone else. One celebrity in particular, a German model named Veruschka von Lehndorff, is pictured here enjoying the festival.

Getty Images Photo by Hulton Archive

Von Lehndorff was a popular model and actress around this time period. Originally from Russia, she studied art in Hamburg and was later discovered in Florence, by a photographer named Ugo Mulas, at a very young age. This was the first step towards her rise to international fame, after becoming a full-time model. Some years later, she met Eileen Ford, head of the famous Ford Modeling Agency, in Paris.

Flower Child

Woodstock was a place where everyone was welcome and accepted. It did not matter what gender you were, what race you were, or even your age.  This photograph encapsulates that message. We do not know how old the girl in this photograph is , but she is definitely one of the younger attendees. You can tell from the photo just how fun it was for everyone who was able to attend. The memories that she created at such a young age at this Festival will stick with her forever.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

It may come as a complete surprise to you, but there were also a handful of births that happened during Woodstock. There are two records of children being born during the festival. In one instance, the child was born at a nearby hospital, after the mother went into labor at the festival. She had to be moved to the hospital by helicopter, and the child was born when she got there. Another child was born in a car, while they were stuck in traffic on their way to Woodstock.

Tie-Dye for the Win!

Janis Joplin introduced the tie-dye craze that came to characterize a decade. She, Joe Cocker, and John Sebastian, an interesting character who tie-dyed his underwear, played at Woodstock covered in garments full of colorful swirls.

Alamy Stock Photo

Everyone attending Woodstock would agree that tie-dye was all the rage. There were vendors all over the farm selling tie-dye clothing and memorabilia to the concert goers. Thankfully, if you did not own anything from this fashion trend, you could certainly get it while you were at the festival and fit right in! This trend did not end at Woodstock. It lasted for years to come.

Follow the Groovy Brick Road

No matter what path you chose at Woodstock, you were surely in for a memorable time and a crazy adventure. These signs are so awesome. We love how they are stuck on the trees. How cool would it be to have a copy of these signs hanging up around our houses? I bet people who attended Woodstock would love to have bought something like this as a souvenir.

Getty Images Photo by Bill Eppridge

if you took the path titled groovy way, you would probably find all of the iconic hippie fashion, such as flared jeans and Afro hairstyles. These styles were not just seen in passing at Woodstock, they were also staples in the 70s and disco fashion.  If you took the path titled gentle, you would be in good company, hanging with souls who were a little more spiritual. You would probably be practicing yoga and wearing Bohemian dresses.

When Life Gives You Instruments, Make Music!

Woodstock spanned over the course of three days. There were 32 performers. Over the course of the three days, of course there were a few breaks between performances. While one performer broke down their set and another one would put up theirs, people in the audience decided to make music of their own. They did not want the music to end.

Getty Images Photo by Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection

In this photo, we see a couple of people putting on their own little musical show. Everyone is dancing to the beat these people are playing. There is a guy playing the drums and a woman playing her flute. They must have known that there were going to be breaks, and so they brought instruments of their own. Look at the drummer’s eyes, you can almost feel his passion.

Taking Notes

Legendary rocker Tim Hardin performed on day one of Woodstock. He played a couple of songs with his band, but then performed one song solo. He ditched the band to sing a solo rendition of “If I Were a Carpenter.”  Even though this performance was iconic, he was only paid $2,000. He did not make as much as other musicians at Woodstock.

Getty Images Photo by Archive Photos

This photograph is incredible. The photographer caught him in a candid moment off stage. We have got to wonder what hit was being written right here! If only the photographer had captured the lyrics he was writing down at the time.

The Queen of Boho

The people who attended Woodstock loved to experiment with wild and crazy outfits and accessories. The girl pictured here is covered in accessories. She is showing us true bohemian fashion. The addition of flowers in her hair and other jewelry really took this look to the next level.

Alamy Stock Photo

These flower children weren’t trying to make a fashion statement, and yet their aesthetic went on to influence generations of festival-attending youths to come.

Hail the Almighty Rain Makers!

Woodstock took place in the hottest month of summer, and because of the crowded conditions and the far higher turnout than was expected, water was hard to come by. People were beginning to worry about the lack of water, and they decided they had to take matters into their own hands.

Getty Images Photo by Owen Franken

Soon enough, it began to pour and Woodstock turned into a complete wet mess, with mud and water everywhere. I guess it is true what they say, be careful what you wish for. The muddy conditions made it really hard for people to enjoy the rest of the festival.

A Muddy Business

In the span of  three days, Woodstock saw so much variation in the weather. It went from hot, muggy and humid to severe rain, flooding and mud. It was good that they got some rain, unfortunately, it was bad for the musicians and caused some technical problems. But of course that did not stop the 32 musicians from performing.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

As you can see in this capture, people did not seem to mind all of the problems that came with the severe weather. The people in this photo had to dry out all of their rain soaked belongings. Pretty sure they were not going to get any sleep anyway.

One Love

Whenever you have a large group of people in one place, you have to worry about the potential of violence, and of course the people in charge of Woodstock had valid concerns. Thankfully though, this was not the case with Woodstock. The only things that people preached over the span of three days were peace, love, freedom, happiness and unity.

Getty Images Photo by Robert Altman

This photograph really encapsulates the essence of Woodstock. You can see everyone with their hands in the air listening to music together, happy and smiling. It really is as if nothing else matters. They do not seem to have a care in the world, and they are all united as one.

Rocking the Daisies

Hippies, often called flower children, used colorful, vibrant clothing, covered with flowers; they wore flowers in their hair and passed them around to the public. They used flowers as symbols of peace, love, unity, and happiness, and this is how they got to be known as flower children. They really were all about spreading peace and joy.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

The couple photographed here is radiating peace and happiness. There has been nothing else like Woodstock and there never will be again. This is a feeling that cannot be recreated. Many other bands were invited to Woodstock and couldn’t make it. Unfortunately, they will forever regret turning down this opportunity. Of course, they did not know how big it was going to be. No one did.

Fashion Forward

While people may have taken the time to seek out the details of their outfits, such as the layered beaded necklaces and the leather accessories or excessive jewelry, they really didn’t seem to pay much attention to their hair. The girls tended to keep their hair straight and long, and some even had bangs, but that was the extent of it. You could see burly beards or afros among the men.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Embroidered blouses and layered necklaces, ready to be paired with low-slung bell-bottoms, made this girl the perfect subject for a snap. It looks like she spent a lot of time perfectly curating her accessories for her Woodstock Style.

Psychedelic Vans

The number of people, along with the extreme heat and rain, made the conditions unfavorable for the festival goers. Beating the heat and sleeping outside on top of their vans seemed like the best option for these Woodstock attendees.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

This photograph documents an incredible moment in Woodstock history. People literally had to camp out on top of and inside of their vehicles. They never anticipated the amount of people that actually attended. Traffic was literally at a standstill, there was a point where you could not get in or out of the festival. Additionally, the crowds made the 3-day festival drag on to last for 4 days.

Picture Perfect

Despite all of the incredible performances happening at Woodstock, photographers were also able to photograph many special moments between people in the audience.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

This couple is fashion at its finest. The guy pictured is showing a minimal take to Woodstock fashion, wearing only denim cut-offs. He has styled his hair into an Afro, which was extremely common around the festival. The woman pictured has her icy blonde hair parted right in the middle and styled with a slight wave, which is likely from all of the rain they experienced. Her dress is long and flowy, in perfect Bohemian fashion. The fringe detail on the bottom is a lovely touch.

One Big, Happy Family

Everyone was family at Woodstock. It was not unusual to see groups of people sitting together in the fields enjoying the music. It did not matter if these people knew each other or came together, they were all family. Adults and children were all welcome.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

There were not many publications allowed in the festival to document the event. Rolling Stone magazine was given full access throughout the festival, and they were one of the only people to get that clearance. This photograph was taken by Baron Wolman, who was a photographer at Rolling Stone. Since it was such a popular magazine, it was easy for him to get snaps like this, as people were eager to be photographed by the magazine.

A Celestial Sound

The kickoff to the Woodstock Festival was just as amazing as the festival itself. First, Richie Havens performed. This was then followed by an incredible speech by Sri Swami Satchidananda. He shared an uplifting and inspiring message with the group.

Alamy Stock Photo

“My Beloved Brothers and Sisters, we can just feel the vibes. Music is a celestial sound, and it is the sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much, much greater than any other power in this world. And, one thing I would very much wish you all to remember is that with sound, we can make—and at the same time, break.”

The Faces Behind the Magic

Woodstock took place in New York State. However it was not actually in the town of Woodstock. It was held in a town called Bethel. The reason why it was called Woodstock was not because of the location, but because the people who financed the festival were from a company by the name of Woodstock ventures.

Getty Images Photo By Bill Eppridge

The place where the festival actually took place was a dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur. He was a farmer who graciously allowed Woodstock Ventures to put on the festival on his land. Sadly, he got a lot of push-back from the community about his graciousness. People in his neighborhood went as far as to sue him. He died in 1973, shortly after Woodstock.

Couple Goals

How could you not smile during a time like Woodstock? This happy couple must have been so excited for what was to come. Maybe they were most excited for Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix- or one of the other 30 musicians scheduled to perform. They exude beauty, and are icons of bohemian fashion.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

The lady pictured is perfectly dressed in Woodstock fashion. Wearing a peasant blouse was very common among the concertgoers, and hers is perfect in those colorful stripes. Her partner, while not wearing a shirt, decided to accessorize with various necklaces. This was also a very common look around the festival.

Some Morning Yoga

Sri Swami Satchidananda led a yoga class every morning. It looks like he had no problem drawing a crowd to join him in the spiritual workout. They used this time to connect and relax while there were no musical performances.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

We love the variety of yoga poses that the group is doing. It is showing that they are practicing together, yet still doing their own flow. Everyone seems to be having a great time together. Yoga is really a practice of peace and love, and that is exactly what the people at Woodstock wanted to promote, so it is no surprise that it was practiced all over the fields.

Deserted Dreamers

Nobody expected that almost half a million people would attend Woodstock. The traffic getting in and out of the festival was absolutely brutal. People were stuck in traffic and could not get in to see the bands perform, so they decided to get out of the car and find other ways to get there. Some people decided to hitchhike or walk. People would do whatever it took to get to the festival, and nothing could stop them.

Alamy Stock Photo

This picture speaks volumes. It seems like the couple here got stuck in the traffic jam. The guy in the photo is playing the guitar, for the girl who seems to be extremely upset and definitely not impressed.

Free Festival

Woodstock ventures, who organized the festival, sold nearly 100,000 tickets prior to the first day of the festival. Almost half a million people attended Woodstock, so you do the math. Over 300,000 people decided to come to Woodstock, even though they did not have a ticket for the monumental event.

Getty Images Photo by Bill Eppridge

Nobody knew it was going to be such a huge deal, and the organizers were definitely not ready for such a huge turn out. People started getting to the festival two days before it even started. There were so many people that it was absolutely impossible to control the situation, and that is when Woodstock became free!

Peace & Love

At such a huge event, one can only imagine how hard it was to see the bands perform. Either you were too far back, or not tall enough to see over the people in front of you. This photo captures the feeling!

Alamy Stock Photo

This photo is quintessential Woodstock. You can see by their face how much they’re enjoying the music, and you can almost feel the joy they are exuding.

Peaceful Protest

The Woodstock festival lasted three days, and during that time, the audience of half a million people truly promoted the concepts of peace and love. There was not a single incidence of violence during the entirety of the festival. Well, there was one incident, but it came from a band member, not from the peaceful audience. It occurred on-stage, as Abbie Hoffman tried to jump onto the stage during a break in The Who’s set.

Getty Images Photo by Owen Franken

Hoffman took the mic and began a semi-coherent rant about freeing John Sinclair from jail, when Pete Townshend turned, yelled at Hoffman to get off “my stage,” and hit him on the head with his guitar. Hoffman hobbled off the stage, and the angry members of The Who finished their set.

In the Zone

You would think that most people would attend a music festival to hear and enjoy the music. But that was not always the case. It seems a lot of people came to Woodstock to simply be around other people and play their own instruments. By doing so, they were able to entertain the other concert-goers between sets.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

Photographed here is a hippie, complete with long hair and a beard. He got himself on a top platform, the perfect place to play his guitar  between sets. He seems completely content being in his own world, playing his own music, while waiting for the entertainment to begin.

A Weekend to Remember

Aside from the 32 incredible performances happening at Woodstock, there was also a ton of time to just relax and hang out with your friends around the farm.

Getty Images Photo by Warner Bros

This photograph is a great example of that. People seem to be completely content sitting in the forest. They are enjoying the Great Outdoors and enjoying the company of others. The clothing hanging in the trees is amazing to see in this photo. Maybe they were drying them from the rain, or maybe they were making makeshift tents to sleep in. Nobody seems to mind the fact that they are wet and covered in mud, they are just having a good time.

A Different Perspective

Okay, this photograph is truly incredible. This guy is definitely making a statement reading his book while up in the sky. It is unclear what he is doing up there. Maybe it is his way of getting on someone’s shoulders to get a better view… And it looks like he would have the best view in the house from up there.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

Hopefully, he did not fall from his perch and hurt himself. Hopefully, he got some reading done while waiting for the bands to play, and hopefully, he got a great view of it all. Either way, we are sure he had a memorable time at the festival.


This amazing action shot shows just how fun Woodstock really was. There were tons of crazy happenings going on all over Woodstock. This is just one of them. Crowd surfing happened the entire time.

Alamy Stock Photo

People loved to get thrown and surf the crowds, all in hopes of getting a little bit closer to the stage for a better look at their favorite musician.

Dancing in the Rain

The people in attendance at Woodstock did not let rain or mud, or any of the other severe weather conditions ruin their time. It does not matter that the festival was lacking basic luxuries. People literally let their hair down, rolled up their sleeves and danced in the rain.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

The people captured in this epic photograph seemed so happy. They weren’t going to let a little bit of rain ruin their time. A few of them are even wearing plastic ponchos, which means they were prepared for the rain! The poncho’s may not have been in Woodstock fashion, but they sure were functional when the downpour started.

An Obstacle Course

Woodstock became free for many reasons. For one, they did not realize it was going to be such a huge event, and it was literally impossible for them to control the crowds. Also, they did not have much security. People came in through fences and climbed all over equipment and other things around the farm.

Getty Images Photo by Daniel Wolf

Surprisingly, with such a huge event, there was no violence. Unfortunately, however, two deaths were reported. It was reported that someone died from a drug overdose. Another death was a freak accident where the person was accidentally hit by a tractor. While both of those instances are extremely sad, it is amazing that there were only two reports out of over 400,000 people.

“The Free Stage”

There was a school bus used by the Hog Farmers near the “Free Stage”, which was basically space where artists and attendees would jam and perform open mic numbers. In the photo above, some men are hanging out near the school bus. When the weather started to change and a storm began, a huge crowd starting chanting in unison, “No rain, no rain, no rain”.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

After just three hours, five inches of rain had fallen and turned everything into a swamp. Joan Baez even started singing “We Shall Overcome”!

Festival-Goers Hugging at ‘The Greatest Peaceful Event’

Bethel became the third-largest city in the state of New York for one weekend, after an approximate 500,000 people where at the farm at one time. Of course, no one involved with the Woodstock festival ever expected such a high amount of people to attend, and as a result, there were food and water shortages, among many other issues. In fact, the situation came to such a point that the NY governor at the time, Nelson Rockefeller, officially declared it a disaster area.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Despite there being more than 5,000 medical emergencies at the festival, people still took care of each other and tried to help in any way possible. Even if it was through support and affection, like these three people hugging so happily.

People Played with Suspended Gongs at the “Free Stage”

The Free stage we mentioned earlier wasn’t only for jamming and mic performances, it was a free, open space where people could go and do all sorts of activities, like a Hippie Disneyland of sorts, complete with drugs, massages, free hugs, and all sorts of instruments laying around. In the photo below, you can see people playing with some hanging gongs near the Free Stage.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Of course, what was Disneyland for some, was hell for others. Famous Indian sitar player, Ravi Shankar, attended the festival, and recalled it as something “terrifying”. Shankar said he didn’t have a good time, and the crowds of thousands of mud-covered people reminded him of water buffaloes in India, instead of free spirits listening to transcendent music.

Even Tractors Served as Resting Spots

At Woodstock, any place was fair game when it came to resting.

Getty Images photo by Boston Globe

There were so many people everywhere and so much going on all the time, that finding a resting place was imperative. And that could be anything, even the farm tractors!

A Very Unique Festival Program

One of the special things about Woodstock was that, since it was the first festival of its kind, it was not dominated by merchandise. Unlike today, where merchandise is a huge part of the event; everywhere there are shirts and souvenirs.

Getty Images Photo by Blank Archives

Woodstock only had its original programs which, together with the staff’s t-shirts and jackets with the Woodstock logo, are now worth thousands of dollars, since they’re the only remaining souvenirs.

There Were Many Children at the Festival, But Probably No Babies Were Born There

It is said that four babies were born at the festival, but it remains unclear. One singer said on stage, “Some cat’s old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out!”. Also, a medic later reported that a mother-to-be was flown to a hospital and another had her baby in the car, stuck in traffic!

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Eliot Tiber, who appears in Taking Woodstock, said a woman had a baby at his family’s hotel next to the festival.

Rain, Traffic, and Electrocution Weren’t An Issue For Artist or Attendees

Performers and people at Woodstock felt they were part of something so unique that it was going to take a lot to ruin the experience. Intense rain, heavy traffic or even the risk of electrocution didn’t scare these people. In fact, The Grateful Dead, a band from California, played on stage during heavy rain and flooding, standing in water up to their ankles. Considering they were surrounded by amplifiers, instruments, microphones, and things that required a big amount of electricity, this was extremely dangerous.

Getty Images Photo by Three Lions

The band even said they felt electricity shocks when they touched their guitars and held the mics. But, they did it anyway, along with many other bands, including Alvin Lee (from Ten Years After), who said, “Oh come on. If I get electrocuted at Woodstock, we’ll sell a lot of records.”

3 Deaths and Not Enough Bathrooms

Considering the number of people that attended the festival (more than 500,000), it’s surprising there were only three fatal accidents at Woodstock. Two people overdosed, and one, only 17 years old, died after a tractor ran over him while he was sleeping in a sleeping bag.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Another big issue was the shortage of toilets. Since no one expected such a huge turnout, festival staff only set up 600 toilets, and it wasn’t nearly enough. Basically, there was one toilet for every 650 people.

A Stage and a Crowd That Could Be Watched from Every Angle

One of the most amazing things about musicians is that they get to connect with thousands of people through their music. They get to get on a stage and look at a crowd of thousands of faces staring back at them. At Woodstock, performers weren’t only greeted with this incredible feeling, but they looked back at a unique crowd of people covered in mud, dancing, playing music, running around; they basically got to play for a human wonderland.

Getty Images Photo by Archive Photos

The Incredible String Band, a folk quartet from Scotland, said, “It was incredibly high and three out of the four of us had vertigo. Little flimsy dresses on the girls, acoustic guitars out of tune, the drums damp from the tent, it was like playing off the Forth Bridge to this sea of people cooking beans in the mud.” They said their performance at Woodstock was something they would never forget.

Martin Scorsese Edited an Oscar-Winning Documentary About the Festival

Artie Kornfeld, the festival organizer and mastermind behind Woodstock, thought it would be a good idea to film the festival and do a documentary on the whole event. Kornfeld had made an agreement with Warner Bros Studios to come and film the whole festival. At the time, Martin Scorsese had just graduated from NYU film school and he was recruited as one of the editors for the film.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Over the course of three days, they shot 120 miles of footage, which Scorsese and a team of others managed to cut down into a three-hour film. The documentary won an Academy Award and made huge profits, of which Scorsese and the team of filmmakers didn’t see barely any of.

Woodstock Was an Anti-War Festival That Received Help From the Military

Woodstock happened at a time when the U.S. got involved in the Vietnam War, and, not surprisingly, since Woodstock was all about music and peace, its attendees were strongly against the war. The photo below shows a man driving a Mustang covered with anti-war messages, like “war is not healthy”.

Getty Images Photo by Three Lions

The ironic thing was that, if it wouldn’t have been for the U.S. army, people would have had a very hard time at the festival. It was the army that airlifted medical supplies, food, and artists, to keep the festival going. The festival organizers said to the attendees, “They are with us man, they are not against us. Forty-five doctors or more are here without pay because they dig what this is into.”

People Could Buy a Blue Jean for $5 and a Stand Was Set on Fire

Hippie mentality didn’t keep people from doing business at the festival. People sold everything from food, clothing, and a variety of items. The couple in this photo sold jeans, tops, hats, shirts, and more for just $5.

Getty Images Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

Food was also sold for nearly nothing, until at one point, one food stand ran out of burgers and raised the price of each hamburger from 25 cents to $1. People got angry at what they considered a “capitalist” move that wasn’t keeping with the tone of the festival. Chaos ensued and people finally set the stand on fire.

Most People Missed Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner”

This photo, showing two men in a van painted with the American flag, depicts how, even though hippies were against the “system” and certainly the government, they still loved their country and were very patriotic. And one of the festival’s most patriotic moments was when Jimi Hendrix played his magnificent version of the U.S. anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Since Hendrix was one of the main performances of the festival, he was scheduled to play last, but after changes in programming, Hendrix’s set was postponed an entire day. By that time, most of the people had left, so only a few heard Hendrix’s legendary performance.

The Hippies Left a Mess Behind

You would expect that a festival that’s all about peace and love and nature would attract people that cared for the environment. But this wasn’t the case with Woodstock, in fact, by looking at the photo below, we can get a clear picture of how people left the place. The land and the entire town of Bethel was left in such a mess, that even after the land owner, Yasgur, was approached the following year about another festival, he immediately refused. The townspeople even came up with a law forbidding another festival to take place.

Getty Images Photo by Bill Eppridge

Woodstock’s 25th anniversary, in 1994, took place about 10 miles from Bethel, in a town in New York called Saugerties. More than 550,000 people attended. Again, a much higher number than the organizers expected. Five years later, another Woodstock was held in Rome, New York, and there were a number of reports of violence, sexual assaults, and fires.

A Girl and Her Pet Monkey

This is an amazing photo of a girl posing next to her pet monkey. Since Woodstock was all about peace and love and respect for all living things, it’s not surprising some people came with their animals.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Many people brought their dogs to the festival, but this girl went a step further and decided to bring her pet monkey with her.

Bob Dylan Did Not Perform at the Festival

Not many know that the original idea was to build a recording studio in Woodstock, New York. A group of people invested in the project, which was getting famous for its artistic projects and brilliant musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and more.

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As it turned out, the investors had a change of heart and decided to have a massive concert instead. They chose the name Woodstock because of its connection to Bob Dylan. Ironically enough, he didn’t even perform at the festival. Apparently, one of his kids got very sick at the last moment and he couldn’t attend.

Performers Had to Be Flown In Because They Couldn’t Get Past Traffic

The festival’s first scheduled performer was the band, Sweetwater, but they were stuck in traffic and didn’t make it on time. In order to get things going, Richie Havens started playing, and he played for hours. At one point, after running out of his own songs, he started to play Beatles covers and even made up a song that later became known as a sort of Woodstock anthem, called “Freedom”.

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The festival organizers had to fly in performers on a helicopter in order to finally give Havens a break!

Joni Mitchell and The Rolling Stones Didn’t Attend, but Santana Did

Santana was one of the many legendary performers that attended Woodstock. However, there were many other famous musicians that the organizers tried to get to perform, but they opted out. For example, Joni Mitchell, who was a hippie movement icon of the time, was convinced by her manager not to attend because she was scheduled to perform on a TV show shortly after.

Getty Images Photo by Hulton Archive

Funny enough, also attending the TV show were David Crosby and Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills and Nash, who did perform at Woodstock. And for those of you asking on what she based her iconic “Woodstock” song on, it was about her boyfriend’s experiences at the festival. The Rolling Stones were another huge band that didn’t make it to Woodstock. Mick Jagger was filming a movie at the time, and Keith Richards and his wife had just had a baby.

A Spiritual Opening Ceremony

The photo below shows the Indian religious teacher, Satchidananda Saraswati, conducting the opening ceremony at the festival. In a way to set the tone of this momentous event, he was also instrumental in bringing Eastern philosophies to the West.

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It was a beautiful way to open such a special event, and Saraswati inspired the hundred thousand-plus crowd to chant in unison and be captivated by his words.

Another View

Here we have another view of just how big and expansive the crowd was at the opening ceremony. Swami Satchidananda first came to America in 1966; Yoga was mostly unknown here.

Getty Images Photo by Harry Benson

Health food stores only contained bottles of vitamin supplements and photos of bodybuilders. When people heard of the word yogi, they thought of a popular cartoon. All this changed when Swami Satchidananda arrived, and since his appearance at Woodstock, his ideas and teachings slowly seeped throughout America.

Waiting For the Bus

Like all music festivals, Woodstock showcased the younger generation wearing the new styles — from bell bottoms, crop tops to knit dresses. Here we see a group as they wait for a bus to take them to the festival grounds.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Fashions of the era represented youth, from the colorful outfits that reflected vibrant optimism and expressed a romantic yearning for an equal society.

Traffic Jams

On August 13, two days before the festival’s start, there were already traffic jams caused by the exodus of people making their way to the festival grounds in an attempt to get there early and grab a spot before it gets too crowded.

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Woodstock’s organizers had prepared for a crowd of 150,000, but by the second day of the festival, somewhere between 400,000 to 500,000 had already descended upon Max Yasgur’s dairy farm.


Despite the logistical nightmares and unexpected crowds, Woodstock went off relatively hitch-free. There were barely any reported crimes, and surprisingly not nearly as many fatalities as most skeptics were expecting.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

The counterculture mantra of love and peace won out with an audience that almost reached half a million and it brought people together from all over the country.

The Impact Thereafter

Thanks to all the coverage in the media, Woodstock had an impact far beyond its actual borders. Following Woodstock, an eponymous documentary film, the year was released to critical acclaim and distribution across the United States.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

It really felt like it was a time for social and cultural change, mainly due to population demographics. According to the US Census Bureau, 36% of the US population was under 18 in 1960. A youth movement was underway.

The Era of Woodstock

Likewise, Woodstock’s photos that circulated painted a picture to those on the outside of what it felt like to be there and at this festival that was quickly becoming symbolic of the ‘Woodstock generation.’

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To an entire generation, Woodstock comprised the central tenets of the 1960s cultural revolution. Fifty years afterward, the legend of “3 Days of Peace & Music” lives on.

Media Coverage

A group of journalists worked amid the chaos of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. However, initial coverage of the Woodstock event portrayed it as a disaster. However, a young generation of journalists saw the event differently.

Getty Images Photo by John Dominis

As they returned to their newsrooms across America, the reporters and editors struggled to characterize the era-changing events that had occurred over the weekend.

Impromptu Shelters

Many were carrying sleeping bags and tents, canned food and guitars, dressed in beads, leather, bandanas, and long gowns, the young people spoke of sleeping out under the stars and possible riots.

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Impromptu shelters as we see here were common; as this man unwinds in the grass hut he built for the weekend.

Bringing Yoga to the West

As one of the great Yoga masters to bring the classical Yoga tradition to the West in the 1960s, Sri Swami Satchidananda taught Yoga postures and meditation.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

He also introduced students to a vegetarian diet and a more compassionate lifestyle; these concepts influenced a generation and spawned a growing Yoga culture.

A New Nation

Despite the rain and the traffic jams, the mud and hunger and thirst, and beyond the confusion, a new nation had emerged into glare provided by the moving photos we see.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

At the festival, thousands were able to do things that would ordinarily be considered rebellious regarding whatever current sociological theory one might want to embrace. Swimming, canoeing, or running around scantily-clad, believe it or not, stay up all night.

Coming of Age

Attendees even climbed-up the sound tower to see the stage. The festival’s overall panorama wove together elements drawn from their experiences and the artistry of the performances.

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An article featured in The Rolling Stone magazine also explored the cultural implications of Woodstock on a personal level, it discussed how Woodstock represented a coming of age of personal freedom.

Woodstock’s Message

From makeshift shelters to food stalls, festival attendees got creative in the absence of adequate facilities. The attendees endured the discomforts to relish in a lifestyle that was an expression of their independence.

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While newspapers across the US continued to focus on the concert-as-disaster-area, network television news programs were quick to pick up on Woodstock’s message.

Coming Together

As hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life invaded a rural resort area that was unprepared to accommodate them all. Here we see young people eating outside the food tent at Woodstock.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Somehow, by nature of old-fashioned kindness and caring, people came together, in harmony and with good intentions, and all of them learned from the experience.

Defining its Own Culture

Woodstock proved to be a milestone in coverage of the music scene and the broader media investigation of social and economic issues that affect younger citizens. After the Woodstock weekend, rock music and other matters concerning the American experience were no longer oddities.

Getty Images Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

In the aftermath of the festival, it was clear that the future had arrived when hundreds of thousands of people were part of a place that defined its own culture for three days.

Rainy Festival

All the downpour of rain threatened the festival and delayed several performances while drenching the grounds and the attendees. Here, we see pictured men soaked while having fun in the mud.

Getty Images Photo by Owen Franken

The ground on which two or three hundred thousand kids were sitting was begging to be turned back into the mud, and it got its wish, and it couldn’t have mattered less to anyone.

Regretful Bands

A handful of prominent bands spurned invitations to perform at Woodstock. The Byrds were invited but declined to play. Said bassist John York, “By that time we had no idea what it was going to be. We were tired of the festival scene… So all of us said, ‘No, we want a rest’ and missed the best festival of all.”

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The Doors also declined an invitation to perform at Woodstock, supposing it would be a “second class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival.” Guitarist Robby Krieger said it was one of his biggest regrets as a musician.

Influential Musical Performances

Many of the festival’s acts were forced to perform during the rain that troubled the proceedings. Here we see Ravi Shankar as he played the sitar during his performance on a Friday night.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

Ravi was an Indian musician, composer, and founder of the National Orchestra of India; he was also influential in spurring Western appreciation of Indian music.

Far-reaching Impact

Still, the festival represented a moment in which a generation of young people attained a critical mass for three days in a rural New York field. As such, it had a far-reaching impact and could be interpreted to pose a threat to society.

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By focusing on negative, threatening images, such as the widespread use of illegal substances and deteriorating public safety, media coverage tended to reinforce the establishment’s social order. While also declared disturbing questions about Woodstock attendees’ mindset and marginalize the young generation’s political standing.

The Aftermath

Two festival-goers rest between sets while reading a newspaper. With few places to catch a good rest, many Woodstock attendees had to make do with what they had, which was often just a blanket under the stars.

Getty Images Photo by Ralph Ackerman

After the festival, many felt as if they were but fragments of their former selves; with such an eye-opening and remarkable experience, many left with a newfound sense of self.