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Festival manager Niek Murray gives IQ the lowdown on this year's edition and sets the record straight on its rumoured expansion plans
By James Hanley on 04 Jul 2023
Pinkpop manager Niek Murray has delivered his verdict on this year’s festival and opened up on its rumoured expansion plans in a new interview with IQ.
Headlined by Pink, Robbie Williams and Red Hot Chili Peppers, the 70,000-cap Dutch institution enjoyed a late surge in ticket sales for its latest edition, held at Megaland in Landgraaf from 16-18 June.
“We sold a lot of tickets in the last week,” Murray tells IQ. “We ended up with around 62,500 people each day – 42,000 weekend tickets and 20,500 day tickets. We sold out our Glampink luxury area with 2,000 visitors. Last year, we had 1,000 capacity and this year we doubled it and sold out as well.”
Musical highlights also included well-received sets by Queens of the Stone Age, The War on Drugs and the Black Keys, while Murray was similarly effusive in his praise for domestic acts such as DI-RECT.
Launched in 1970, Pinkpop is organised by Mojo Concerts and is now the longest-running open-air festival in the world. Founder Jan Smeets stepped back from his role as festival director in 2020 after 50 years at the helm. While a wave of new features were introduced in 2022 following its two-year Covid-enforced hiatus, including changes to the layout of the site, this year’s vintage was an all-round more straightforward affair.
“We had to price the tickets €30 higher for the weekend. It’s not that we wanted to do it, but we had to do it as all costs have increased”
“We had a huge transformation last year, so this time it was more about fine tuning with the feedback we got from our audience and our crew,” explains Murray. “We had a lot of challenges last year, as everybody did after Covid. But we have worked with some of our suppliers for 30 or 40 years and they were more prepared for this year.
“We had a Bruce Springsteen concert on the site a week before so had already built a lot of infrastructure for Pinkpop. Also, the weather made the build very easy, so everyone was relaxed when the festival started – not like last year when it was over 30 degrees and too hot. This year, it was around 28 degrees but it was doable. So the crew was very relaxed, the audience was very relaxed and I think most of the acts were very relaxed and very happy. For me, it was one of the best festivals we’ve done in the last 20 years.”
Full-day festival tickets cost €135, with weekend tickets priced from €275 and special Wilhelmina Sky Deck passes from €370 (day tickets) and €840 for the weekend.
“Sky Deck, our VIP package, was also sold out with 600 people a day, so we are very pleased with the numbers,” notes Murray. “Overall, costs have exploded. It’s more expensive to produce the festival and that’s why we had to price the tickets €30 higher for the weekend. It’s not that we wanted to do it, but we had to do it as all costs have increased.”
“One of the things we’ve talked about is maybe adding an extra day, or trying to have more people on site”
Murray also plays down recent reports that Pinkpop is looking to add a fourth day and grow its daily visitors by 10,000.
“We’re still young; it was our 52nd edition so we have a lot of years to go,” he laughs. “Jan Smeets, our founder and longtime director, stepped back in 2020 and we’re now completely owned by Mojo Concerts, so we are talking a lot more about the future of the festival with our colleagues.
“Each year, we talk about how we see the Pinkpop festival developing in the next 10, 20, 25 years. And one of the things we’ve talked about is maybe adding an extra day, or trying to have more people on site. But that depends on the service we can provide, so there are ideas, but no concrete plans at the moment.
“But we don’t want to stand still. We want to try to make the festival better each year. If that means that in five years, we have an extra day, maybe, maybe not – I’m not sure at this moment. But there are possibilities and we want to explore them and see what’s good and possible for Pinkpop, so that we can have this conversation again in 50 years about our 105th edition!”
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