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Danish music fans facing festival-free summer

Covid-19 has officially cancelled the festival season in Denmark, with Roskilde 50, as well as major events like Northside and Tinderbox, not able to go ahead

By IQ on 07 Apr 2020

Dansk Live hopes the tests will pave the way for a 'much-needed festival summer'

Roskilde's Orange stage

image © Christian Hjorth

For the first time since the dawn of the festival age, there will be no large-scale live music events in Europe’s ninth-largest concert market this summer, after the Danish government announced yesterday (6 March) that all events over 1,000 capacity are banned until 31 August.

In news watched closely by the European festival community – many of whom are still awaiting definitive clarification from their own governments – the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, last night said that large public gatherings would remain banned until September. A ban on gatherings of more than ten people, along with other social restrictions, will remain in place until 10 May at the earliest.

The 50th-anniversary Roskilde Festival (115,000-cap.) and the 2020 editions of Down the Drain Group’s Northside and Tinderbox festivals are the largest events effected, with smaller festivals such as music and art event Heartland (29–31 March) and metal festival Copenhell (17–20 June) also called off.

“We are devastated,” reads a statement from Roskilde, one of largest and best-loved festivals in Europe, which was due to take place from 27 June to 4 July, with acts including Taylor Swift, Deftones, Kendrick Lamara, Faith No More, Kacey Musgraves, Tyler the Creator, FKA Twigs, the Strokes and Haim.

“Though we feared this would happen, we have until now hoped that it wouldn’t end this way. However, the risk of getting infected with the Covid-19 virus is too large when many people are gathered, and that consideration is by far the most important.

“Consequently, there will be no Roskilde Festival this summer.”

With the measures, Denmark becomes the second European nation, after Austria, to provide dates and details on a slow reopening of the country following its lockdown. Schools will start to open in the country on 15 April.

“Of course this is terrible news, but we are glad that there is now an announcement”

The Austrian government yesterday announced no public events would be allowed until after the end of June, although some shops would be permitted to reopen as early as next week.

Kim Worsøe, co-owner of Denmark’s ICO Concerts and CEO of All Things Live Group, says the Danish live industry had been urging the government to “be clear on the ban – and the sooner the better”, adding that he expects the rest of Scandinavia to “follow shortly”.

“Of course this is terrible news, but we are glad that there is now an announcement, so festival organisers have [clarity],” adds Esben Marcher of industry association Dansk Live.

Besides Roskilde, also off are summer staples Northside (40,000-cap.) and Tinderbox (50,000-cap.), both promoted by Down the Drain (the former Beatbox Entertainment). The 2020 edition of Northside was set to feature Green Day, Robyn and Weezer, whereas the line-up for Tinderbox 2020 included AJ Tracey, Banks and Bring Me The Horizon.

Roskilde and Northside were among number of independent European festivals, including Primavera Sound, Exit Festival, Bilbao BBK Live and Rock en Seine, to put their name to the #FestivalStandUnited letter stating the intention to go ahead as planned this summer if possible.

“We know that many have been looking forward to this summer’s festival and to once again gathering around the atmosphere and music,” says Northside festival director and Down the Drain CEO Brian Nielsen.

“For many, this will be a tradition which is broken, and we are very sad about that. But we stand in a historically difficult and unknown situation, and we of course support the initiatives from the government, in order to do all in our power to take care of one another.”

“Though we feared this would happen, we had hoped that it wouldn’t end this way”

Tickets for both festivals will automatically be valid for the 2021 editions, with refunds also available.

Ticketholders for Roskilde 2020 can also choose to transfer their tickets to the 2021 edition of the festival or request a refund, although the former option is preferred.

“You can make a huge difference for us by saying yes to being part of Roskilde Festival already now,” say organisers, adding that the festival is “in an especially difficult position” due to its status as a non-profit organisation.

All proceeds from the festival go to supporting children and young people, as well as freedom of artistic expression through Freemuse.

“Ultimately, the Roskilde Festival Society, the organisation behind the festival, will not be able to live up to its purpose of supporting children’s and young people’s opportunities. This will affect a large number of organisations and initiatives in and outside of Denmark.”

The humanitarian and social aim of the festival also “means that we don’t have big savings to draw upon. We start up from zero every year.”

The Roskilde team states it will “work hard on creating an outstanding Roskilde Festival no 50 in 2021”.


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