Sonisphere Festival

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Sonisphere Festival
Sonisphere Main Stage.jpg
Main Stage at Sonisphere Festival in Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland.
DatesJune / July / August
Years active2009 – present

The Sonisphere Festival is a touring rock music festival which takes place across Europe between June and August. The festival is owned by John Jackson and Kilimanjaro Live. It is jointly promoted by K2 and Kilimanjaro Live. [1] It has hosted heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Slayer, Judas Priest and Megadeth.

Kilimanjaro Live

Kilimanjaro Live Group is a group of companies that work in the fields of Music, Comedy, Spoken Word, Digital Stars, Musical Theatre based in the United Kingdom. They are one of the largest event promoters in the UK.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Iron Maiden English heavy metal band

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-eight albums, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.


The festival has not taken place in the UK since 2014. Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live, revealed in 2018 that Sonisphere will not return to the UK, due to financial issues. [2]

Event history

The idea for Sonisphere was first conceived by John Jackson in the late 90s. John chose the name Sonisphere, from a combination of Sonic and Sphere. In 2008 Stuart Galbraith had formed business partnership with AEG Live called Kilimanjaro Live. John Jackson approached Stuart Galbraith with the idea of a Pan-World touring festival which fit in with plans Kilimanjaro Live had to launch a UK festival. John Jackson is the Creator and Director of Sonisphere and Galbraith the Producer.

The first run of festivals ran throughout the summer of 2009 at six venues, returning in 2010 and 2011 with 11 venues.

Plans for future festivals consist of increasing the number of festivals, making the event global rather than local to Europe, expanding the UK event into a 3-day festival, and increasing the UK capacity from 40,000 to 60,000 attendees. [3]

Sonisphere 2009

The 2009 Sonisphere festival tour was made up of six one-day festivals across Europe with a seventh festival in England spanning two days. The festival had a core group of bands that played each of the six dates with numerous extra bands added to each date individually. The locations for the 2009 festivals include Goffert Park, Nijmegen, Netherlands; Hockenheimring, Germany; The Forum, Barcelona, Spain; Folkets Park, Hultsfred, Sweden; Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland; and Knebworth House, Knebworth, England. Metallica were the main headliners for each of the 2009 Sonisphere Festivals.

Nijmegen City and municipality in Gelderland, Netherlands

Nijmegen is a city in the Dutch province of Gelderland, on the Waal river close to the German border.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands, also commonly known as Holland, is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.


The Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg  is a motor racing circuit situated in the Rhine valley near the town of Hockenheim in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, located on the Bertha Benz Memorial Route. Amongst other motor racing events, it biennially hosts the German Grand Prix, with the most recent being in 2018. The circuit has very little change in elevation. The circuit has FIA Grade 1 license.


The Dutch edition of the Sonisphere Festival took place on Saturday 20 June 2009 at Goffertpark in Nijmegen.

Goffertpark Park in the Netherlands

The Goffertpark is a public park in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In the park, which is sometimes used as an outdoor concert venue, there's also the stadium of football club N.E.C..


Mastodon could not make it to Sonisphere due to scheduling issues. This was announced at Sonisphere itself, although some[ weasel words ] heard the news whilst traveling.

The Sword cancelled their show a few days before Sonisphere began.


The German edition of the Sonisphere Festival took place on Saturday 4 July 2009 at Hockenheimring with Metallica as headliners.



The Spanish edition of the Sonisphere Festival took place on Saturday 11 July 2009 at The Forum, Barcelona with headliners Metallica.



Jimmie Strimmell performing at Sonisphere Festival, Hultsfred, Sweden 2009 Jimmie Strimmell, Dead by April.jpg
Jimmie Strimmell performing at Sonisphere Festival, Hultsfred, Sweden 2009

The Swedish edition of the Sonisphere Festival took place on Saturday 18 July 2009 at Folkets Park, Hultsfred with Metallica as headliners.



Linkin Park performing at Sonisphere Festival in Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland. Sonisphere pori linkin park panorama 20090725.jpg
Linkin Park performing at Sonisphere Festival in Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland.

The Finnish edition of the Sonisphere Festival took place on Saturday 25 July 2009 at Kirjurinluoto Arena, Pori with Metallica as headliners.


Machine Head were forced to cut their set short, due to lead guitarist Phil Demmel collapsing on stage.


The British edition of the Sonisphere Festival took place over two days, on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 August 2009, at Knebworth House, Knebworth with headliners Linkin Park (Saturday) and Metallica (Sunday). The festival featured four stages of music over the weekend, with the main two being staggered staging, the others being within the Bohemia village. [9] The Bohemia stage (the third of four stages) was an undercover stage and was able to continue past the sound curfews placed upon the main stages. This was The Rev's final live performance as Avenged Sevenfold's drummer before his death in December 2009. It was also the last European appearance of Ronnie James Dio before he died of stomach cancer in May 2010.

Sonisphere 2010

The Sonisphere 2010 tour visited eleven locations around Europe between 16 June and 8 August 2010. The locations for Sonisphere 2010 were Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden and Finland. Unlike in 2009, there was not a full touring headliner performing each date. The headliners for 2010 were Iron Maiden, Metallica and Rammstein.


Warsaw, Poland was the host city for the first of the 2010 festivals; that was first announced on 9 December 2009. The 2010 Sonisphere in Poland took place on 16 June 2010. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, bands which make up the big four of thrash metal, played together for the first time. [12]



Switzerland was the second nation to host the Sonisphere festival in 2010 with the event taking place at Degenaupark in Jonschwil on 18 June 2010. [14]


Czech Republic

Czech Republic hosted the festival in Milovice on 19 June 2010; this was also a one-day festival. Metallica headlined this event.



Bulgaria held its first Sonisphere over two days in Sofia on 22 and 23 June 2010. The venue was the Vasil Levski National Stadium. [17]

Day 1 – Tuesday 22 June

Day 2 – Wednesday 23 June


This concert was also broadcast live around the world in movie theaters as part of the Big Four Tour. This was the first time in their history that all four bands played together on one stage, performing the Diamond Head song "Am I Evil?". [19]


The Sonisphere festival in Greece was held on 24 June 2010 at Terra Vibe Park in Athens in front of 30,000 people. [20]



Romania held the Sonisphere festival from 25 to 27 June 2010 in Bucharest at Romexpo.

Day 1 – Friday 25 June

Day 2 – Saturday 26 June

Day 3 – Sunday 27 June



Turkey held the Sonisphere festival at the same time as Romania: 25 to 27 June 2010. This part of Sonisphere was at the BJK İnönü Stadium in Istanbul. Akbank sponsored the event.

Day 1 – Friday 25 June

Day 2 – Saturday 26 June

Day 3 – Sunday 27 June


The Big Four were on the stage one after another, but did not play altogether.

This was the first time Rammstein and Anthrax came to Turkey.

The bass player of Manowar, Joey DeMaio, made a speech to the audience in Turkish.


Spain hosted Sonisphere on 9 and 10 July 2010, at Getafe Open Air in Madrid.

Day 1 – Friday 9 July

Day 2 – Saturday 10 July


United Kingdom

Sonisphere arrived in the UK for a three-day festival, taking place at Knebworth House between Friday 30 July – Sunday 1 August. Music included a 'Rocky Horror Show theme with Alice Cooper, and headliners Iron Maiden and Rammstein.

Day 1 – Friday 30 July

Day 2 – Saturday 31 July

Day 3 – Sunday 1 August


Band dropouts


Slayer performing at Sonisphere Festival, Stockholm, Sweden 2010. SlayerSonisphere2010.jpg
Slayer performing at Sonisphere Festival, Stockholm, Sweden 2010.

Sweden hosted Sonisphere in Stockholm on 7 August 2010 for a one-day festival. Iron Maiden announced via their official website that the band would headline the Swedish event. The following bands performed at the event. [26] Heaven & Hell cancelled due to Ronnie James Dio's illness and later death. [27]



Sonisphere finished its tour in Finland, where tickets sold out in 2009. It was held on 7 and 8 August 2010, at Kirjurinluoto Arena Pori. Iron Maiden and HIM headlined the event.

A freak storm hit Sonisphere in Finland on Sunday 8 August 2010, causing severe damage to the second stage, rendering the stage unsafe and unusable. Two people were seriously injured and one died in hospital. [29] The Heaven & Hell show was cancelled before the beginning of the festival due to Ronnie James Dio's health issues. He died on 16 May 2010.

Day 1 – Saturday 7 August

Day 2 – Sunday 8 August


Sonisphere 2011

Sonisphere returned in 2011 with new venues in India, France and Italy but did not return to Romania. It also marked the first time that Metallica played in India. The first headliner announced for Knebworth, England was Slipknot.


Sonisphere Knebworth took place from 8 to 10 July 2011. [31] On 3 December 2010, it was announced that the American band Slipknot would headline Sonisphere 2011. [32] Soon afterward, on 6 December it was announced that Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro would be headlining the Saturday night, in the band's first major festival headlining performance. [33] On 13 December 2010, it was announced that Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax would headline the Friday of the Knebworth event. This will be the first time that The Big Four perform together in the UK. [34] On 17 January 2011, it was announced that Motörhead, Mastodon, In Flames and Parkway Drive will be playing the UK leg of Sonisphere. [35] On 31 January 2011, it was announced that Weezer, Airbourne, Architects and Diamond Head will be playing Sonisphere. [36] On 28 February You Me at Six, All Time Low, Sum 41, House of Pain, Arch Enemy, Grinspoon, Fozzy and Periphery were added to the lineup. [37] On 28 March Bill Bailey, Jarred Christmas, Jason John Whitehead, Jim Breuer, and Steve-O were added to the lineup. [38] According to the official site, during all three days of event, nearly 190,000 people were present. Cancer Bats performed a Black Sabbath tribute show. Motörhead dedicated their set to their former guitarist Würzel who died just the day before.


Sonisphere in Sweden returned to Stockholm, but it was held at "Globen Open Air" on Saturday 9 July 2011. Slipknot headlined the event, with In Flames, Mastodon, Mustasch and Dead by April also playing at the festival. Only 16,000 fans came to see the bands this time.



Sonisphere in Finland took place at Kalasatama, Helsinki on 2 July 2011. Slipknot headlined the bill with the other bands performing included: In Flames, Opeth, Sonata Arctica, Hammerfall, Mastodon and more. As opposed to past two years, the 2011 Sonisphere was less well attended, with attendance of only 12,000 fans.



Sonisphere Poland returned to Bemowo Airport, Warsaw on Friday 10 June 2011. Iron Maiden announced on their website that they would headline the event in Poland in 2011. Motörhead was confirmed as the second headliner of the festival. [41] [42] Other bands announced were Mastodon, Volbeat, Killing Joke, Devin Townsend, Hunter and Made of Hate. Iron Maiden played to the crowd of over 40,000 people who attended the event. [43]



Sonisphere in Greece returned to Athens and it took place in Terra Vibe Park, Malakassa on Friday 17 June 2011. Iron Maiden headlined the event, and Slipknot were special guests, playing live for the first time since Paul Gray's death. Mastodon, Gojira and Virus were the supporting acts. [45] [ citation needed ] On 6 May it was announced that Nightfall, Moonspell, Need and Total Riot would play on 17 June 2011. Rotting Christ were the headliners of the second stage of the Greek leg of Sonisphere Festival. More than 25,000 fans attended the event.


Sonisphere 2011 took place on Italian soil for the first time. More than 40,000 people were present during two days of festival. The two-day event was booked at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, on 25 and 26 June 2011. Iron Maiden were the headliners on the first evening, and the band performed to nearly 30,000 fans. Next day's headliners were Linkin Park with 13,000 in attendance. The other bands on the bill were: Slipknot, My Chemical Romance, Sum 41, Alter Bridge, The Cult, Mastodon, Motörhead, Guano Apes, Funeral for a Friend, Papa Roach, Rob Zombie, Apocalyptica and many others.


Slipknot and The Big Four confirmed that they would be headlining the French Sonisphere event, which took place on 8 and 9 July 2011. Other bands announced were Dream Theater, Airbourne, Mastodon, Gojira, Loudblast, Tarja, Volbeat, Diamond Head, Mass Hysteria, Rise To Remain, Symphonia, Bring Me the Horizon and Papa Roach.[ citation needed ] The two nights attracted 76,000 people. Metallica performed Helpless from Diamond Head, with Diamond Head and Anhrax members on stage, but without Slayer and Megadeth [46]


On 1 May 2011, Metallica confirmed on their official website that they would headline the Indian edition of Sonisphere, which took place in Bangalore on 30 October at the Palace Grounds. [47]


The third Spanish Sonisphere Festival took place on 15 and 16 July 2011, at Getafe Open Air in Madrid. The main headliner was Iron Maiden with The Darkness and Slash headlining the night before. Sonsphere Spain included around 70,000 attendees. Iron Maiden played to a full house venue with nearly 45,000 fans.


Iron Maiden headlined the second Turkish Sonisphere show, which took place on 19 June 2011, at Maçka Küçükçiftlik Park, Istanbul. Other bands that played included Slipknot, Alice Cooper, Mastodon and In Flames. Tickets were sold to approximately 25,000 people.


A Sonisphere event was scheduled to happen this year in Bulgaria but according to local promoter Marcel Avram and Balkan Entertainment the event was cancelled due to logistical and other problems that could not be rectified. The promoters also said that these problems were out of their control and that full refunds for tickets would begin on 15 June and continue to 15 July. [48]


Sonisphere returned to Switzerland for the second time. The event took place at St. Jakob on 23 and 24 June in Basel. Over two evenings more than 35,000 people attended the headlining shows. 23 June headliner was Judas Priest with the Epitaph World Tour at the St. Jakobshalle; the next evening's headliner was Iron Maiden, who performed to almost 25,000 fans gathered at Leichtathletik Stadion. The other bands were: Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, In Extremo, In Flames, Papa Roach, Kreator, Mr. Big, Hatebreed, Hammerfall, Alter Bridge, Gojira, Gwar, Skindred and many more.

Czech Republic

For the second time, Sonisphere took place in Czech Republic. The 2011 event was originally scheduled for Milovice Airport, but after a few months was changed to Praha's Výstaviště Park. Nearly 30,000 people from Czech Republic and many other countries (Poland, Germany, Austria) attended the headlining gig of Iron Maiden on 11 June 2011. Other bands on the bill included The Sisters of Mercy, Kreator, Korn, Mastodon, Cavalera Conspiracy and many others.

Sonisphere 2012


Sonisphere Knebworth was scheduled to take place from 6 to 8 July 2012. On 20 February 2012, the headliners were announced as Kiss (Friday), Queen + Adam Lambert (Saturday) and Faith No More (Sunday). Several bands were set to play an album in its entirety, including Mastodon performing The Hunter , Glassjaw performing Worship and Tribute and Hundred Reasons performing Ideas Above Our Station . On 29 March the festival was cancelled with the organisers stating that co-ordinating the festival to an appropriate standard this year had proved more difficult than expected. [49]


Poland hosted Sonisphere on 10 May 2012, at Bemowo Airport.


Spain hosted Sonisphere on 25 and 26 May 2012, at Getafe Open Air.

Day 1 – Friday 25 May

Day 2 – Saturday 26 May



Switzerland held Sonisphere on 30 May 2012, at Yverdon-les-Bains.



Finland held Sonisphere on 4 June 2012, at Kalasatama.



France held Sonisphere on 7 and 8 July 2012, at Amneville.

Sonisphere 2013


In December 2012, organisers announced the festival would make a return after cancelling that year's edition in Knebworth. However, on 21 December it was confirmed the event would be cancelled for the second year in succession. Citing a struggle to secure a strong lineup for the festival. [53]

Sonisphere 2014


It was announced on 12 November 2013, that Sonisphere would return to Knebworth, UK, from 4 to 6 July 2014. The festival would celebrate 40 years of Rock Music at Knebworth Park. Sonisphere would come to Hamburg, Germany on 4 June 2014.

On 2 December Iron Maiden (Saturday) and Metallica (Sunday) were announced as the first two headliners of the UK edition of Sonisphere. This would be Iron Maiden's final show of their highly successful Maiden England World Tour. It was also revealed when Metallica were announced, that fans booking weekend tickets would be eligible to vote for 17 of the 18 songs in Metallica's setlist (The 18th to be one of their new songs). On 11 December The Prodigy were announced to be headlining the Friday slot. On 6 January, Slayer, Mastodon, Alice in Chains, Ghost, Karnivool, Gojira and Airbourne were added to the lineup as undercard bookings. Then on 21 January, Limp Bizkit were revealed to be the special guests for The Prodigy on the Friday, with Dropkick Murphys, The Sisters Of Mercy, Anthrax, Chas & Dave, The Devin Townsend Project, Carniflex, Silverstein, The Virgin Marys & Voodoo Six also appearing across the weekend.

For the first time at a UK festival, the pro wrestling company Progress Wrestling held three shows at The Satellite Stage on all three days. The shows were well received and considered on many music sites "Best at Sonisphere 2014", especially after a "Lego Deathmatch" was held on the final night.

Sonisphere also later revealed on their official Facebook page, that they plan to continue their tradition of having no stage clashes between the two main stages (Apollo & Saturn stages), but the other stages would run as normal. Babymetal would make their first ever UK appearance on the Apollo Stage on Saturday 5 July 2014. [54] [55] [56] [57]

Sonisphere 2015


Italy held Sonisphere on 2 June 2015, at Assago Summer Arena.



Switzerland held Sonisphere on 6 June 2015, at ExpoPark Nidau-Biel.



Sonisphere UK 2015 was cancelled in January 2015 after the organisers stated they couldn't get a line-up together they deemed suitable for the event. [60]

Sonisphere 2016


Switzerland held Sonisphere on 3 and 4 June 2016, at Allmend in Lucerne.

Day 1 – Friday 3 June

Day 2 – Saturday 4 June



On 8 January the official Sonisphere Facebook page replied to a user, on a picture that they shared, stating: "We don't have a festival that I am aware of". [62] Sonisphere did not take place in Knebworth despite organisers stating a desire to return.

See also

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