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Belgium’s Rock Werchter called off again

Only a smaller stand-in event will take place at the Werchter Festivalpark this summer, as the flagship festival falls victim to uncertainty for a second year running

By IQ on 16 Mar 2021

Belgium festival, Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter will return in 2022

Rock Werchter, one of Belgium’s biggest and most important music festivals, will take another year off this summer, organisers have announced.

The 88,000-capacity festival, promoted by Herman Schueremans and Live Nation Belgium, will “be back in full swing in 2022, from 30 June to 3 July”, reads an announcement. Rock Werchter last took place in 2019, welcoming more than 160,000 people for its 45th-anniversary event with Pink, Tool, Muse, the Cure, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons and more.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and in recent months we have been talking to governments, experts and colleagues in here and elsewhere about how festivals could take place,” the festival says in a statement. “With the great momentum on vaccine roll-out we had hoped that it might be possible; however, we have come to the reluctant conclusion that given current restrictions we simply cannot prepare for a 2021 festival in the normal way. We want every fan and artist to enjoy the festival to the fullest, and with the current situation we could not achieve this.

“While we know that this is the right decision, we also know that this decision affects many: our employees, the technical crew, suppliers, artists and their entourages, all the local associations and their volunteers, and, of course, the fans. Our sector has been on hold for a whole year now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the dark times are not over, even with the cautious restart happening soon. The once-thriving live music industry needs government support.”

“We are currently working out what will be possible with the anticipated restrictions in place”

IQ reported yesterday that the prime minister of Flanders, the Belgian province that contains the village of Werchter, is waiting until the end of April to make a decision on whether large-scale music events will be allowed to go ahead this summer. At press time, preparations for other major Flemish festivals, including Tomorrowland and Pukkelpop, are still ongoing.

“We have a special word of thanks for the fans and friends of the festival: they Rock Werchter,” continues the announcement. “Every time. Over and over again. They kept hoping during the dark days, showed understanding over the uncertain situation, and gave support to each other and to us. We cannot thank them enough. We look forward to making great memories together again in the future.”

As in 2020, when 36 performances were held in aid of industry charity Live 2020, a smaller, potentially socially distanced, event will take place at the Werchter festival site in lieu of the festival proper.

“We are eager to bring back live music to the Festivalpark this summer in any way we can and are currently working out what will be possible with the anticipated restrictions in place,” it concludes. “As soon as the right and best formula is determined, we will come back to you. It won’t be Rock Werchter, but you can rest assured that we will sing, dance and celebrate together again this summer.”

Ticket holders for Rock Werchter 2020 and ’21 can hold on to their tickets for 2022 or request a refund from Ticketmaster.


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