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Werchter, Tomorrowland off as Belgium extends events ban

Summer is cancelled in Belgium, as the country's National Security Council bans all major festivals until 31 August, with Pukkelpop and Dour also affected

By IQ on 15 Apr 2020

Dance music institution Tomorrowland, in Boom, will take a year off in 2020

Dance music institution Tomorrowland, in Boom, will take a year off in 2020

Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop, Dour Festival, Graspop Metal Meeting and Tomorrowland are among the casualties of the Belgian government’s decision to extend its ban on large-scale events until 31 August 2020, announced this afternoon (15 April).

While some lockdown measures will likely be relaxed after 3 May, given that the peak of Belgium’s Covid-19 infections is believed to have passed, the National Security Council (CSN) has reiterated that no major cultural or sporting events will be permitted to take place until at least September.

It is not yet known whether smaller festivals will be allowed to go ahead before then, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

The CSN’s announcement follows similar extensions in France, which will have no major events until at least mid-July, Austria, where large gatherings are banned until the end of June, and Denmark, which will be festival-free until 31 August.

Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop (owned and partnered with Live Nation Belgium, respectively) say in near-identical statements that they are “not surprised” by the ruling, which is the “right decision” in the face of the coronavirus’s spread through Europe.

“Still, we are devastated,” reads an announcement from Werchter, which was to have been headlined by Pearl Jam, Pixies, the Strokes, Kendrick Lamar, Twenty One Pilots, System of a Down and Volbeat. “We extended our sincere apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it as much as we were. However, there are more important things in life right now.”

“We are crushed, given how prepared we were”

Tickets for all affected festivals will remain valid for 2021.

“We are crushed, given how prepared we were,” adds Dour Festival (15–19 July), whose 2020 bookings included Asap Rocky, Stormzy and James Blake.”We understand and support the preventive measures taken by the public authorities to prevent the spread of the virus.

“While experts agree that the situation could be contained by this summer, it is not yet recommended to gather a large crowd, from Belgium and elsewhere, to Dour 2020. The health and safety of festivalgoers, artists, sponsors, suppliers, employees and volunteers remains our number-one priority at all times.”

“We will triumph together and will continue to unite,” say organisers of long-running EDM fixture Tomorrowland. “But first we have to ensure that the event industry overcomes this.

“Tomorrowland – just like all other major events – is only possible thanks to a network of hundreds of suppliers and thousands of collaborators, working for over a year toward our beloved festival. A lot of talented artists, creative companies, and hardworking and passionate people, including our own team, are now in the eye of the storm and are going through difficult times. We will need to be resilient, support each other, and be flexible to ensure there will still be an event industry at all.”


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