Billboard study: Red Rocks Amphitheatre is the world’s most attended music venue for 2021, of any size

With COVID-19 ravaging live music for much of the last two years, it was gratifying to see full-capacity concerts return to outdoor venues this year — including Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which led the way for Colorado back in the spring and early summer.

Now the historic venue has been named as the most attended concert venue in the world by Billboard as part of a year-end Boxscore chart of top-grossing and best-attended venues. It’s Red Rocks’ first time on the list, and it covers venues of any size, anywhere in the world.

“A Red Rocks season like this is a tribute to dedicated artists, promoters, staff and fans,” venue director Tad Bowman said in a press statement. “Red Rocks is a special place, and every person who steps on stage, serves a drink, greets a customer, or buys a ticket owns a piece of this success.”

The distinction arrives on the venue’s 80th anniversary, during a year when Red Rocks broke its own seasonal record by hosting 233 ticketed paid events including 177 concerts, 20 yoga and fitness programs, and 36 movies in the Film on the Rocks series, according to Billboard.

The previous record for shows-per-season was 2019’s 168 concerts, the magazine reported. In 2020, a handful of shows were staged for audiences of 175 people in 2020, including the instantly sold-out acoustic sets from Nathaniel Rateliff and modest Colorado Symphony performances.

This year, the summer season began under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic with reduced capacities, seating charts promoting social distance, on-site COVID vaccination stations and uncertain fans and tours, Denver Arts & Venues officials said.

“It’s been an absolute whirlwind, and extremely gratifying, getting from a year that devastated so many in our industry to our own record-breaking season,” said Ginger White, executive director of Denver Arts & Venues, the city agency that operates Red Rocks. “We’re proud to play a part in Denver’s economic and cultural recovery by providing so many Colorado residents and visitors a place to gather for the joyous return of live music.”

Billboard’s calculations included gross ticket revenues of more than $60 million for 134 concerts. But because of reporting date cutoffs and promoter policy, numbers come from the show promoter, not the venue, and do not account for expenses such as venue rental, labor or payment to artists, the magazine said.

This year’s Red Rocks concert season officially started with Lotus “on a snowy April 22,” and ended with Playboi Carti on Nov. 19, according to Arts & Venues. Highlights of the season included a record-setting six-night stand by electronic artist and producer Zhu, the Dead & Co. shows that grossed more than $2 million (the season’s highest), the debut of comic Bill Burr, and Widespread Panic’s 61st, 62nd and 63rd sold-out shows (the most by any band at the venue).

Film on the Rocks’ Holiday Drive-In series continues for the next two weekends at the venue; see redrocksonline.com for details.

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