These Rare Color 1969 Woodstock Photos Show What the Event was Really Like
Officially labeled “An Aquarian Exposition” presented by the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, the original plan for the event called for an outdoor rock festival with “three days of peace and music” in the Catskill village of Woodstock, New York.
More commonly referred to as simply “Woodstock,” the event quickly took on a life of its own. With an estimated attendance of 400,000 music lovers, the affair turned into New York state’s 4th largest city on those four magical days – August 15-18, 1969.
The 1969 Woodstock Festival was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake, New York, which is around 43 miles southwest of the actual town of Woodstock, New York. The 1969 music festival is regularly considered a pivotal moment in popular music history.
Following are 36 photos from photographer John Dominis, who covered the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival for LIFE magazine.
1969 Woodstock – Wide angle photo of the huge crowd during the event. You can barely make out the far away stage in the distance.
A pond on Max Yasgur’s property turned into a fishing, swimming and bathing location, as shown by this group of clothed and nude young people at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival.
This Woodstock photo shows a large crowd of people sitting on car and bus tops and with tents set-up at the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. (This is possibly on a road to the event.)
Woodstock Photos: Jackie Barg sits on the ground, blowing bubbles during the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
A shirtless, long haired, bearded man sits playing the guitar on top of a treehouse-like platform.
LIFE magazine ran a feature on Woodstock using some of these images in its August 29, 1969 issue. Years later, the remainder of these never before seen 1969 Woodstock photos from LIFE were featured on their Time.com website.
A man is seated with two young boys between two school busses, one bus is extravagantly hand-painted and modified. The flamboyant bus, named Further, had a movie created about it called Magic Trip.
Several people trying to fill plastic containers with water.
Photo showing large crowd and part of the stage at Woodstock. This photo is directed toward the tent camping area behind the stage.
1969 Woodstock Photos – A group of young people stand in the mud, water, and mess talking and laughing. It started raining right around midnight on the first evening – August 15, 1969. The rain continued off and on throughout the festival, creating a sea of mud and muck, as well as causing delays in several performances.
A stand in the woods at 1969 Woodstock selling pillows, posters, incense, candles and other paraphernalia.
Night view of the stage and lighting during a performance at the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
Photographer John Dominis was quoted decades after the event on his Woodstock photo adventure…
“I really had a great time. I was much older than those kids, but I felt like I was their age. They smiled at me, offered me pot… You didn’t expect to see a bunch of kids so nice; you’d think they’d be uninviting to an older person. But no—they were just great!”
A group of young festival goers washing their feet at a water pump during the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
Dishing out food to festival attendees. John Dominis, photographer – Woodstock 1969.
Makeshift campground set-up in a nearby cemetery, cars in background parking lot.
Several people huddled under a green tarp, trying to stay dry during a rainy day at Woodstock.
Group of hippies hanging out, having fun at a homemade playground. One young man is shown sitting atop an approximate 20 foot high tree pole reading a book. Woodstock 1969.
Several young people under a piece of clear plastic, trying to stay out of the rain during a day at Woodstock 1969.
Two young women attending to several male “patients” in a makeshift medical tent. There were dozens of minor injuries during the four day Woodstock festival.
Bikini clad 1969 Woodstock patron Kathy O’Brien trying to wash her hair with a bar of soap at a water pump.
Another photo of one of the food lines during the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
This photo shows a group of people writing, typing and talking on pay phones. (Probably reporters.)
Woodstock Photos: A hippie couple standing barefoot on a road holding what looks to be a bottle of wine and a plastic wrapped food package.
Close-up photo of a section of huge crowd at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
Another quote about the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival from photographer John Dominis…
“I worked at LIFE for 25 years, and worked everywhere and saw everything, and I’ve told people every year since Woodstock happened that it was one of the greatest events I ever covered.”
Festival goers standing at water pump trying to get water during a day at Woodstock 1969.
Photo of the huge crowd, looking towards the large yellow tents, during a non-rainy period at Woodstock. John Dominis – Woodstock 1969.
Young people walking around the big yellow tent area. Some trying to stay dry under plastic, blankets, or whatever they can find, while others appear to just accept being wet.
Long exposure photo of the massive night time crowd. Performances went well into the night due to rain delays and issues with bands not being able to make it to the venue on time. Woodstock 1969.
Camping out with tents on a grassy hillside.
People used clear plastic and whatever they could find to try to stay dry during the many rainy periods of Woodstock.
Young people in a food line at Woodstock. Flowered clothing patterns, tasseled boots, headbands, and bell bottoms were all common fashion items in 1969.
A young hippie girl climbs a homemade structure to look at baby chicks in a coop.
Wonderful shot showing the huge crowd at Woodstock, looking towards the large yellow tents. Estimates were as high as 700,000 attendees, but most people believe 400,000 is accurate. True attendance numbers will never be known because the ticketing system failed and promoters let people in for free.
Woodstock Photos: This couple looks to be having fun while twisting a blanket between them to squeeze out the water.
Young hippie couple posing together at 1969 Woodstock.
Photo Credit: All photos by John Dominis, via LIFE archives.