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Norway’s 2021 festival season obliterated

Bergenfest, Øya, Tons of Rock, Over Oslo, Stavernfetsivalen and more have been called off due to the government's proposed restrictions

By IQ on 12 May 2021

Bergenfest will return in 2022

Bergenfest will return in 2022

image © Jarle Hovda

Norway’s 2021 festival season has been effectively wiped out with the cancellation of Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest and Tons of Rock, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival.

The cancellations come after the minister for culture last week (6 May) announced preliminary guidelines which would restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.

The restrictions come in spite of the government’s NOK 350m festival cancellation pot, which the minister said aims to “create predictability now, so that the industry can start planning different scenarios”.

“There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice”

Bergenfest, which would have take place between 15–19 June 2021 at Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, was cancelled last night.

“With current restrictions on outdoor events in June, it is not possible to complete Bergenfest 2021 as we know the festival. There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice. It is therefore unfortunately time to confirm the inevitable – Bergenfest 2021 will not happen in June this year,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

Bergenfest will return between 14–18 June 2022.

Øya Festival, which would have taken place between 10–14 August 2021 at Tøyenparken, Oslo, was cancelled the day after the proposed restrictions were revealed.

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row”

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row,” general manager Tonje Kaada wrote on the festival’s website. “Our big wish over the past year has been to gather artists, the audience, festival workers, volunteers and partners for a unique festival experience in Tøyenparken, but it will not be possible with the guidelines that the authorities presented this week.

“There is too much uncertainty associated with the existing framework, and even the best case scenario with 5,000 people, it’s not compatible with the audience experience Øya Festival wants to provide. We have no choice but to realize that it will not be happening in 2021. Even though we are sorry, it is a relief to be able to provide a clarification to everyone who has been waiting for it. We’ll roll up our sleeves and start over now.”

Øya will return between 10–13 August 2022.

Norway is the latest European market to pull the plug on the 2021 festival season, following widespread cancellations in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Denmark and France.


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