With summer just around the corner, music festival season is getting into full swing. And while these fun community events can provide amazing experiences, there are many risks that attendees face. Based on a recent report of music festival fatality data from DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo, it appears that there have been at least 175 deaths that occurred at U.S. music festivals since 1996. It should be noted that the data was gathered from news reports over the years, and some incidents may have gone unreported.


Before jumping into the data, there are a few outliers that need to be addressed.

  • Route 91 Harvest Festival: The tragic shooting that happened at this Las Vegas festival in 2017 ended up being the deadliest mass shooting in American history, with 60 lives lost. 
  • Astroworld: In 2021, ten people tragically lost their lives during a crowd crush incident at Travis Scott’s performance. Nine wrongful death lawsuits were recently settled.

Music Festivals With the Most Fatalities

Outside of these two major events, there are a few festivals that have seen their own share of fatalities over the years. Below is a table breaking down the number of deaths per U.S. music festival.

Festival # Fatalities
Route 91 Harvest 60
Bonnaroo 13
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) 11
Astroworld 10
Burning Man 10
Faster Horses 7
Coachella 6
Hard Summer 5
Electric Forest 4
Lightning in a Bottle 4
Beyond Wonderland 3
Electric Zoo 3
Woodstock ’99 3
Lollapalooza 2
Lost Lands 2
Identity Festival 2
Made in America 2
Ozzfest 2
Nocturnal Wonderland 2
Austin City Limits 1
BottleRock 1
Once Upon a Time in L.A. 1
Rolling Loud 1
Summerfest 1
T-Bois Blues Festival 1
UCSD Sun God Fest 1
Ultra Music Festival 1
Okeechobee 1
Knotfest 1
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 1
World Music Festival 1
Mendocino Magic 1
Reggae Rising 1
All Good Music Festival 1
Camp Bisco 1
CMA Music Festival 1
Paradiso Festival 1
Country Fest 1

Common Causes of Death at Music Festivals

Besides the two outliers mentioned above, there haven’t been many large fatal events at festivals. Most incidents are on-off occurrences, although there are certainly some causes of death that are more common at festivals than others. Bonnaroo, EDC, and Burning Man likely have more fatalities due to their popularity and large turnouts.

Number 1 Cause of Death

The most common cause of death at music festivals is drug overdose (if we ignore the outliers). Many festival goers partake in drugs, particularly ecstasy, and gravely underestimate just how much MDMA increases the body’s temperature. When you combine this side effect with outdoor temperatures in the hundreds and limited access to water, it commonly leads to ecstasy intoxication.

Other common causes of death at festivals include being struck by vehicles and carbon monoxide poisoning. The latter has occurred when festivalgoers have a generator too close to their sleeping quarters and no ventilation.

How to Stay Safe at Music Festivals

Music festivals can still be an amazing experience for many, but it’s vital that you go in prepared. Some of the most important safety tips include:

  • Hydrate – this cannot overstated. It doesn’t matter whether or not you do drugs. Many festivals take place in the summer in extreme heat, and the body needs lots of water to stay cool and stay hydrated.
  • Never take drugs from a stranger, and test everything. While in an ideal world no one would take drugs, it’s important that those who choose to partake do it smartly. Drug test kits are easily available and can identify tainted drugs.
  •  Don’t drive under the influence or hang out near roads. Many of the vehicle accidents that have occurred could have been avoided. No one should get behind the while while intoxicated, and pedestrians who are intoxicated should stay far away from moving vehicles.
  • Bring a buddy. While music festivals often have great communities that welcome solo attendees, having a friend with you can be life-saving. Many festivalgoers have had near-death experiences but were ultimately saved because a friend was able to get them medical care in time.