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Pinkpop honours departing founder Jan Smeets

The Dutch live music legend, who stepped back from his role as festival director in 2020, was saluted by the crowd at this year's event

By IQ on 21 Jun 2022

Pinkpop 50 years, Jan Smeets honoured

Jan Smeets

Netherlands’ legendary Pinkpop festival has paid a special tribute to departing founder Jan Smeets in recognition of his 50 years at the helm.

Smeets organised the first edition of Pinkpop at the age of 25 in 1970, and the Landgraaf event is now the longest-running open-air festival in the world, but announced he was stepping back from his role as festival director in 2020, with his team continuing to organise Pinkpop in collaboration with Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts.

But with the event cancelled for the past two years due to pandemic, this year’s edition – held from 17-19 June – provided the first chance for the man known in the Netherlands as ‘Mr Pinkpop’ to bid farewell to the crowd in person.

“The audience waved, cheered and clapped for him after he got on stage, where we first showed footage of Jan from the 1970s to 2019 on the screens,” Pinkpop festival manager Niek Murray tells IQ. “It was a very emotional moment for all of us, but he deserved a proper goodbye.”

“A lot of good people have left the festival world and it will take some time to get back to the level we were before Covid”

Highly regarded both in his homeland and internationally, Smeets is also an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, a longstanding ILMC member, a founder of Yourope (the European Festival Association) and a winner of festival association VNPF’s lifetime achievement award.

While taking a step back for health reasons, he has stated his intention to stay on at Pinkpop in an advisory capacity.

This year’s festival, headlined by Metallica, Pearl Jam and Imagine Dragons, drew two-sold out 70,000-cap crowds for its first two nights and 57,250 for the final day. A total of 44,500 weekend tickets were sale alongside 63,750 day tickets.

With other acts including Twenty One Pilots, Royal Blood, Maneskin, Deftones and Nile Rodgers + Chic, Murray tells IQ it felt “unbelievable” to be back in business following Pinkpop’s two-year hiatus.

“The second day was the hottest in the history of the festival”

“Everybody was so happy to be on site,” he says. “Overall, it went fine. The first day was a bit rusty, but the visitors did not really have any issues with that. There were more cancellations of volunteers and staff than normal, but we managed it.

“A lot of good people have left the festival world and it will take some time to get back to the level we were before Covid. During the build and preparation, some issues with staff shortages at our suppliers caused delays, but we made it and opened everything on time.

“The first day of the festival was hot, the second day was very hot – 35/36 degrees – the hottest day in the history of the festival. We provided a lot of free water taps, more shelters on site and our medical staff worked there asses off, but there were no huge problems.”

Murray also discusses a number of the new features brought in for 2022 including changes to the layout of the site.

“Our North Stage [cap 30,000] was turned 180 degrees and is now facing our South Stage (previously named Mainstage, cap. 70,000]. We also moved our TentStage [10,000] to the previous place of our North Stage and we created more sitting spots and shelters around the Tent Stage.

“We also introduced our Wilhemina Sky Deck, with packages including drinks/food etc, which was a very nice place to watch the concerts on a ‘higher level’.”


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