Festival Forecast: The Can't-Miss Heavy Music Events Set for 2023

Festival Forecast: The Can't-Miss Heavy Music Events Set for 2023

- By Ramon Gonzales

Check the international menu of festival destinations that are among the most-anticipated and well-rounded of the year.

2022 proved to be a historic year for festivals. With unprecedented numbers in terms of attendance and what felt like a year-round extension of the season, the global network of live music events meant a major event to look forward to every month of the year.

Particularly for fans of heavy music, massive festival experiences both home and abroad have galvanized the culture, creating important destinations for fans to congregate and celebrate the bands they love while getting turned onto new artists during the same weekend.

With the start of a new year, plans for 2023 are already in motion for many essential festivals, with some already sold out. Looking ahead to some of the must-attend events in the new year, here is a convenient rundown of fests that are impacting the community of heavy music fans in a very real way.


Since 1990, Wacken has long been regarded as the gold standard of heavy music festivals on an international scale. Every year, fans from across the globe make the trek for the four-day congregation which regularly touts the kind of line-up that consistently rank as legendary. The 2023 installment sold out almost instantly and will feature important performances like a 40th anniversary set from Anthrax, Deicide performing the classic album Legion in full, a 50th anniversary set from Pentagram and a headlining showing from none other than Iron Maiden. Spanning hardcore, metalcore, death, thrash, sludge, doom, black metal and everything in between, a pilgrimage to Wacken is essential for any and every heavy music fan. - Ramon Gonzales


144 bands. Blue Ridge Rock Festival touts a seriously staggering number when it comes to packing in the bang for the buck. Spanning four-days and five stages, the quantity doesn't overshadow the quality however, with names like Pantera, Jinjer, Beartooth, Parkway Drive, The Amity Affliction, and a reunited Coal Chamber and Taproot having already been confirmed for the 2023 edition. The fan-driven curation of bands makes for community-galvanizing production that makes every fan feel like their voice is heard - adding a new level of participation that makes Blue Ridge one of a kind. With additional amenities like camping and even an afterhours club experience, Virginia International Speedway will no doubt be a four-day party. - Ramon Gonzales



A long-running hardcore institution in the UK (the closest we have to the likes of This is Hardcore or Sound & Fury that cause shock waves across the scene every time a band really turns it up), Outbreak is one of a couple of UK festivals that in 2022 launched themselves up several further notches in the event calendar, mosh waivers signed and all. The leap again from there to what's planned for 2023 is frankly insane, putting on a weekend in a 10,000 capacity venue and pushing the boundaries of what is expected for a festival like it yet again. Hardcore is the rock scene in which cultural crossover with hip-hop feels most natural, and the initial announcement for Outbreak 2023 felt like an atom bomb of intent, putting giants like Code Orange and Converge next to Denzel Curry, Earl Sweatshirt, and perhaps most excitingly a returning Death Grips for an incendiary melting pot. - Perran Helyes


Bloodstock has secured its place as the UK's most important heavy metal festival for years now, but 2021 and 2022's events returning after the COVID-19 shutdown have been particularly fascinating to observe in terms of the festival's evolution. This is a festival that should be a shoo-in for any one of these features as it's a guaranteed good time, but there are bookings on 2023's still unfinished poster right now that warrant further curiosity. Killswitch Engage headline for the first time once again bringing a band from a different branch of the heavy metal tree to the top of Bloodstock's hierarchy, Megadeth return to a faithful classics spot, but it's the one-two of Tom G. Warrior's Triptykon performing the music of Celtic Frost into headliners Meshuggah that promises an evening of apocalyptic sky-shattering bludgeoning. - Perran Helyes


The people who book this festival must never sleep. After an epic seven-day extravaganza in 2022, they've flooded the zone again with another huge line-up. There's some funky billing too. Porcupine Tree followed by Iron Maiden should be interesting. As for the sea of middle-aged mosh-pit injuries when Slipknot finish what Pantera get started... - Dan Franklin


Returning to the historic sprawl of the International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Danny WImmer Presents' domestic festival season kickoff in Welcome to Rockville assembles some of heavy rock's biggest names all on one undeniably stacked bill. Spanning four days, the pairing of juggernauts like Slipknot and Rob Zombie, Tool and Deftones ensures each day has it's own identity. Additionally, Welcome To Rockville also touts the live return of Avenged Sevenfold - marking the band's first live show in five years. Plus, Rockville will also host one of the first domestic plays for the current iteration of Pantera, making for an emphatic start to the festival season. - Ramon Gonzales


Now celebrating it's third year of reactivation, the three-day hardcore/punk/emo congregation at Sloss Furnaces in Alabama has become an annual tradition that struck a chord with fans old and new. With organizers curating the kind of diversity within their line-up that shows there are very much fans themselves, the 2023 edition hasn't even released it's full billing yet and there are already some bangers. Confirming the likes of Between the Buried and Me, Gorilla Biscuits and DRAIN the artists cover generations worth of fans that all find a stylistic intersection. There are also important revivals set for Furnace Fest 2023, with metalcore heroes It Dies Today set to perform for the first time in years and Daryl Palumbo-led Head Automatica marking their first show in a decade At Sloss. - Ramon Gonzales


Though it has been billed heavily as nu-metal nostalgia, the reality is that the inaugural Sick New World does an incredible job of pooling a multi-generational bill of alternative heavy. It's kinda surreal to think the same bill features The Sisters of Mercy, Ministry, KMFDM, Killing Joke and Skinny Puppy sharing real estate with Deftones, Turnstile, System of A Down, Death Grips and Spiritbox. Yet somehow, it works. Contemporary gamechangers like HEALTH, H09909 and Loathe align with the same spirit of non-conformity as legends like Mr Bungle, Coal Chamber, Melvins and Body Count - and that seems more the common thread than any sense of nostalgia. Nonetheless, every base is covered - even if there are some head scratchers. Either way, for Sick New World the spectacle is guaranteed with price of admission and given the festival is already sold out, everyone knows it. - Ramon Gonzales


Always a good destination to see black metal greats in their country of origin, this year sees the Norwegian festival throw out its cloak to envelop death metallers Deicide and Blood Incantation, proto-doomers Pentagram and the formidable Eternal Champion. Hail! - Dan Franklin


Last year was my first time attending Roadburn in the Netherlands, and I will say, they truly do "redefine heaviness". Yes, many of the bands are quite heavy, but it is more the atmosphere and emotion that is heavy. There are commissioned performances that you will never see outside of this festival, collaborations that will never happen again, full album sets and a roster of artists the span the spectrum of heavy. It is truly a special festival that captures the raw creative power of the musicians involved. - Cori Westbrook


Last year, Sound & Fury proved to be a testament to the convergence of different subcultures of heavy. Seeing death metal bands on a hardcore festival bill warmed my little heart. As the boundaries that separate the different genres and their respective fans continue to break down, the overall hope is to see more people reveling in the moment, sans labels and stigma. With S + F drawing their biggest crowds ever for last year's edition, it looks as though that reality is coming closer to fruition. - Cori Westbrook



Aftershock may be blazing hot, but I can't think of a better way to wrap up the festival season. So many artists, big and small, coming together for an all out blast of a time. The crowds know how to have fun, the bands are engaging and the wide range of genres ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy. With each year drawing record crowds, there is a reason that Aftershock is regarded as the grand finale of the rock concert year. With a full line-up expected in early 2023, you can bet the bill will be among the best of the year. - Cori Westbrook


I may come off as a bit of a homer for this one but it is one of the biggest music festivals in the world and it’s only a two hour drive from me. I have been lucky enough to attend Coachella every year since 2012, either as normal festival goer or on the production staff. Every year, no matter the lineup has been better than the last. Your music vocabulary grows, you meet awesome people, but the food has always been the main attraction for me. - Harris David



Featuring headliners Green Day and Blink 182, who recently reunited with original guitarist Tom Delonge, this event has to be one of the anticipated music festivals of the year. Given that it is already sold out, there is no superlative there. Fans will get a hefty dose of pop punk, core and emo rock bands spanning the last two decades. When Were Young 2023 also features The Offspring, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Simple Plan, New Found Glory and over 40 more musical performers. You will likely see fans that span generations at this festival. Due to the massive two headliners alone; the crowd will be a good mix of old and young fans, with a diversified line up also including artists such as singer/songwriter Michelle Branch, emo rockers Waterparks, classic 2000s ska bands Less Than Jake and Goldfinger, Indie rock band Beach Bunny, the post metalcore band Movements and late 90s alternative rock radio giants, Lit, among many others. If you love emo, Indie, alternative, or pop punk this is going to be your jam. - Alex Distefano


What's not to love about a multi day traveling music festival topped by Lamb of God, taking place on a ship that departs from Miami to the Bahamas.?! Seriously. This is going to be epic. Hosted by Lamb of God, this festival will take place at sea onboard a Luxury cruise ship. The live music will come, courtesy of insanely raging bands like Mastodon, Testament and Hatebreed, but as if that weren’t enough, passengers will also get to see VIO-LENCE, GWAR, Municipal Waste, Lacuna Coil, the recently reunited Shadows Fall and God Forbid, as well as new breed aggressors like Fit For an Autopsy, Gatrcreeper, Malevolence, Bleed From Within and Dying Wish. This is going to be four days of raging metal bands, headbanging and pool parties. Plus, Lamb of God will perform two special sets, including the full album Ashes of the Wake, in its entirety.

Aside from the live music, this heavy metal cruise will also feature an on board Casino, tournaments with the artists, a drum contest featuring Lamb of God drummer Art Cruz, and a Q&A and photography show with Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe. Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta will also host a live podcast. Other artists and events will also be announced. This will be an amazing time. - Alex Distefano


Given the last time Slipknot touched down in Australia was back in 2016 in support of .5 The Gray Chapter, the announcement of their return, in addition to heading their own festival, is nothing short of monumental. Then when you see a line up that includes Aussie powerhouses like Parkway Drive, Northlane, Alpha Wolf and Void of Vision teamed with the likes of Megadeth, Trivium, Amon Amarth, In Flames, Spiritbox and Knocked Loose - the full magnitude of the three-day trek becomes more evident. With a roster of artists that span from veteran to still ascending, Slipknot showcase a knack for reaching fans of all walks and all ages with a cross-section of heavy that bridges the classic and the contemporary. - Ramon Gonzales

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