The contenders for the biggest music venue in the world are not just arenas but temples of music and masterpieces of acoustic design, crafted to host legendary performances and engage vast audiences. Each one carries a unique resonance, a distinctive story woven into their structures, their history echoing with the heartbeats of music legends and passionate fans alike.
The world’s biggest concert halls are where stars are born and legacies are written, a testament to our love for live music and communal celebration. As we embark on this grand tour, we’ll look at these legendary locations and their pivotal role in shaping the world of music.
For the purposes of this article, culminating in the world’s largest concert hall ranked by capacity, we’re not including stadiums built predominantly for sport but that also host live music. The biggest concert venues in the world on this list were built first and foremost to host live music but may also, from time to time, host other events.
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands | Opened: 1888 | Capacity: Approx. 1,974
Translated literally as ‘concert building’, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw was designed by famous Dutch architect Adolf Leonard van Gendt. It opened in April 1888 to a performance given by 120 musicians and 500 singers of the works of Beethoven, Bach and Handel. Today, due to what is often perceived as its near perfect acoustics, it’s one of the world’s great concert halls.
National Centre for the Performing Arts
Location: Beijing, China | Opened: 2007 | Capacity: Approx. 2,000
Known as The Giant Egg, the stunning €300 million NCPA was designed by world-famous French architect Paul Andreu. With a floor area of almost 220,000 m2, it’s believed to be the largest theatre complex in Asia. It has three main halls, the Opera Hall, the Theatre Hall and the Music Hall. The latter is one of the world’s biggest concert halls, and the complex is surrounded by a 34,300 m2 artificial lake.
Location: Vienna, Austria | Opened: 1870 | Capacity: Approx. 2,050
The beautiful neoclassical building was designed by Danish architect Theophil Hansen and inspired by the temples of ancient Greece. The Great Hall – the Großer Musikvereinssaal – is also known as the Goldener Saal, or Golden Hall, has a capacity of just over 2,000, made up of 1,744 seated and around 300 standing. The Wiener Musikverein is mainly used for classical music concerts. While it isn’t the biggest music venue in the world, it is arguably one of the most beautiful.
Location: Berlin, Germany | Opened: 1963 | Capacity: 2,440
The second iteration of the Berlin Philharmonie – the first was destroyed during World War II – was designed by German architect Bernhard Hans Henry Scharoun. It opened in 1963 with a performance of Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven conducted by Herbert von Karajan. One of the biggest concert venues in the world, it was designed with vineyard-style seating and influenced many of the world’s great concert halls including the Sydney Opera House, the Philharmonie de Paris and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Royal Albert Hall
Location: London, UK | Opened: 1871 | Capacity: 5,272
One of the biggest concert venues in the world as well as one of the most prestigious, the Royal Albert Hall hosts hundreds of events every year including rock and pop concerts as well as ballets and operas. Designed by Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry YD Scott, the Royal Albert Hall has, since 1941, hosted The Proms, believed to be the largest series of classical music concerts in the world.
Radio City Music Hall
Location: New York, USA | Opened: 1932 | Capacity: Approx. 5,960
Nicknamed ‘The Showplace of the Nation’, Radio City Music Hall is a spectacular Art Deco building on New York’s Avenue of the Americas, and a contender for the largest concert venue in the world. It was conceived as a place where ordinary people could see high-quality entertainment – including theatre productions, films and concerts. In the ninety years it’s been open, over 300 million people have been through its doors.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Location: Colorado, USA | Opened: 1941 | Capacity: Approx. 9,500
Over 200 million years in the making, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre ten miles west of Denver is an outdoor music venue sitting between two vast sandstone boulders that are said to offer almost perfect acoustics. Visually unique, this contender for the largest concert venue in the world has played host to some of the planet’s biggest music stars including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Blues Brothers.
Location: Mexico City, Mexico | Opened: 1952 | Capacity: Approx. 9,700
Mexico’s National Auditorium is located in Chapultepec, one of the city’s largest parks and was originally designed by Mexican architects Padro Ramirez Vázquez and Gonzalo Ramírez del Sordo. It was remodelled between 1988 and 1990, and over the years one of the world’s biggest concert halls has played host to world-class music acts and is home to Latin America’s largest pipe organ.