A Map of the Highest-Attended Concerts

Flip open your Guinness Book of World Records… or just visit the site. There are world records for anything from anamorphic prints to YouTube views—including the highest-attended concerts.

While a French artist started the Guinness Book entry with a 1979 concert, it has since been surpassed… though, amazingly, the same artist still ties for the title thanks to an even bigger performance.

The 48 concerts on the map have had 100,000 people or more attend. For context, the highest-attended Super Bowl ever saw 103,985 football fans in the stands. Yet even the lowest of these concerts had nearly identical numbers, with some even holding over 33 times that amount.

So let’s stage dive into the world’s 10 highest-attended concerts, the artists who have played multiple 100,000+ concerts, and the most common years for these record-breaking events.

View Highest-Attended Concerts in a full screen map

The World’s 10 Highest-Attended Concerts Were Free for Millions

Rod Stewart, NYE 1994, Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Altogether, the 10 largest concerts ever performed entertained 20.5 million people. That could have included you and millions of your closest friends for free. Yes, all of the largest concerts ever cost nothing to attend, as you’ll see in the table below.

Artist Title or event Venue City Attendance Year
Rod Stewart New Year’s Eve Copacabana Beach Rio de Janeiro 3,500,000 1994
Jean-Michel Jarre The 850th Anniversary of Moscow State University of Moscow Moscow 3,500,000 1997
Jorge Ben Jor New Year’s Eve Copacabana Beach Rio de Janeiro 3,000,000 1993
Jean-Michel Jarre Bastille Day La Défense Paris 2,500,000 1990
AC/DC, Pantera, Metallica, The Black Crowes, E.S.T. Monsters of Rock Tushino Airfield Moscow 1,600,000 1991
Various artists Live 8 Philadelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia 1,500,000 2005
The Rolling Stones A Bigger Bang Copacabana Beach Rio de Janeiro 1,500,000 2006
Jean-Michel Jarre Rendez-vous Houston Downtown Houston Houston 1,300,000 1986
Various artists Paz Sin Fronteras II Plaza de la Revolución Havana 1,100,000 2009
Jean-Michel Jarre Bastille Day Place de la Concorde Paris 1,000,000 1979

While free concerts can complicate direct comparisons to the rest of the map’s ticketed, single-artist concerts, their attendances are still notable, especially the four headlined by the same artist: Jean-Michel Jarre. The French composer, performer, and record producer is known for his outdoor performances featuring his music (electronic, ambient, and new-age) paired with laser displays, projections, and fireworks.

Jarre first broke attendance records in 1979 at his Bastille Day show at Place de la Concorde in Paris. In 1986, he again bested previous attendance highs when 1,300,000 people attended his Rendez-vous Houston. He did so again in Paris in 1990 with 2,500,000 attending Bastille Day. Finally, his 1997 The 850th Anniversary of Moscow remains tied for the #1 highest-attended concert ever held to this day.

Additionally, two more of the highest-attended concerts were held at the same venue, for the same event during subsequent years: New Year’s Eve at Copacabana Beach. Brazilian singer Jorge Ben Jor played for 3,000,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro on December 31st, 1993 while British rocker Rod Stewart brought his Hot Legs to the same stage the following year when 3,500,000 showed up. It just goes to show that NYE isn’t only popular in the U.S., though the country is certainly known for its variety of ball drops, like an 80-pound decorated cheese wedge or 100-pound stick of bologna.

To see only the most highly attended ticketed single-artist concerts, select the “Type” group on the map and filter by “Single-artist concerts.” Now let’s take a look at more artists like Jarre who have performed for high numbers numerous times.

8 Artists Have Played Multiple 100,000+ Concerts

French artist Jean-Michel Jarre is tied with Rod Stewart for the #1 spot. But Jarre differs in that he has also played three shows with almost-as-many attendees. Stewart only had the one. Along with Jarre, other artists appear on the map more than once. In fact, eight such artists have headlined at least two of the 48 highly-attended concerts on the map.

  • Jean-Michel Jarre: 4 concerts attended by 100,000+
  • Michael Jackson: 3
  • Queen: 3
  • Robbie Williams: 3
  • The Rolling Stones: 3
  • Madonna: 2
  • Oasis: 2
  • Vasco Rossi: 2

Of course, all four of Jean-Michel Jarre’s best-attended concerts were free, as was The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang show at Copacabana Beach.

Meanwhile, all three of Queen, Michael Jackson, and Robbie Williams’ highest-attended shows were ticketed, single-artist events. Queen’s 1981 The Game Tour at Estádio do Morumbi saw 131,000 attendees.

Similar numbers (125,000) were reported at two of Michael Jackson’s concerts and all three of Robbie Williams’, though Williams’ were subsequent days of the same tour at the same venue, which you can see on the map.

When Major Concerts Were Popular

We’ve answered the who and what of these major events—now it’s time for the when. While the dates of some of these shows have already been mentioned throughout this post, you can see which years most of these huge events were held when you use the map filtering and grouping feature.

For example, group by “Year” and you’ll see various ranges. Here we’ve plotted these large concerts by decade:

This style of concert clearly peaked in the 1980s and 90s, though the 2020s have already nearly caught up to the decade prior. Perhaps there’s a comeback?

What a simple column chart doesn’t show is where the concerts were popular during each decade. You’ll be able to see this visually on the map as you use the grouping options to filter which markers are displayed.

You could do the same with month—July in Europe looks pretty popular! You can scroll back to the top of this post and explore the map or view the larger version.

While it’s fun to imagine Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and other artists strutting across these mammoth stages, you might prefer to visualize your own data on a map. All you need is a spreadsheet of locations, such as customers or other points of interest. And you can make your first custom map for free.