Mountainous Sonisphere Festival

Kilimanjaro chief Stuart Galbraith and K2 agency boss John Jackson are launching a new U.K. festival at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, England, in August.

The two-day, 50,000-capacity event is called “Sonisphere” and will feature Metallica and Linkin Park. Promoter Galbraith and agent Jackson are believed to be close to naming more acts.

It will be the first camping rock festival the well-known Hertfordshire park has staged. Since starting with The Allman Brothers Band in 1994, it has hosted major open-air rock and pop concerts including Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Genesis.

Robbie Williams did three nights promoted by Metropolis Music in 2003. He attracted an average of 125,000 fans per night and a further 3.5 million watched live on TV and the Web.

Galbraith and Jackson, who both named their companies after huge mountains, look to have been planning Sonisphere for at least eight months.

In July 2008, AEG Live president/CEO Randy Phillips confirmed a Pollstar story saying his company was in discussion with Jackson to co-produce “worldwide rock festivals.”

Chris Goodman of The Outside Organisation, which is handling public relations for the new event, said it may be possible to create other Sonispheres in Europe this summer but was more confident that the brand would roll out across the continental mainland in 2010.

Galbraith and Jackson are already reportedly talking to potential partners in countries including Germany, Holland and Scandinavia. Neither Galbraith nor Jackson were available for comment at press time.

For Galbraith, Sonisphere could be an ideal replacement for Download Festival, which he ran for Live Nation until he was dismissed for negotiating with AEG. It may also be some comfort for the fact his former employee recently thwarted his bid to promote shows in London’s Hyde Park.

Kilimanjaro’s start in the festival business in 2008 was problematic. Bloodstock – the heavy rock fest it bought into – did well, but buying a 51 percent share of the twinned Wakestock festivals in north Wales and Oxfordshire didn’t turn out so well. Both reportedly lost money.