The festival veteran discusses teething problems, programming a diverse and accessible event, and her father's influence on Superbloom's concept
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"We had so many learnings from 2022 but we really succeeded in correcting the mistakes and failures," says the director
By Lisa Henderson on 06 Sep 2023
Superbloom director Fruzsina Szép has spoken to IQ about the “almost perfect” second edition of the German festival.
The two-day event returned to Munich’s historic Olympic Park last weekend (2–3 September), featuring artists including Imagine Dragons, Martin Garrix, Peter Fox, Ava Max, Ellie Goulding and more.
“We had so many learnings from 2022 and only one year to apply them but all the effort was worth it because we really succeeded in correcting the mistakes and failures,” says Szép.
One of the biggest issues with last year’s edition was crowd flow around the 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, which meant organisers were forced to halt entry to the main stage before it reached full capacity.
“I’ve never experienced a festival like this, that I’ve been involved with”
“This year, we moved the stage to the head of the stadium so it was much easier to get in and out and there was a constant flow, no backlogs,” she explains. “All the space was there to stand or sit and we had separate areas for our premium guests.”
Crowd flow around the festival was also relieved by increased signage: “We communicated with the audience beforehand and throughout to inform them about the challenges [of the festival site] and of the time it takes to walk between stages,” she adds.
The extreme weather at the debut edition, which forced Years & Years to forego their set on the main stage, was also a distant memory and the band returned to perform in 23-degree heat.
Also contributing to a successful edition was the lack of incidents at this year’s festival. “It was an absolutely beautiful and calm atmosphere throughout those two days. I’ve never experienced a festival like this, that I’ve been involved with,” says the seasoned festival pro, who has previously worked on Sziget (Hungary) and Lollapalooza Berlin.
“We did a lot of communication upfront about safety and security and how important that is for us,” says Szép. “We let our audience know that we doubled the inclusion and awareness teams this year. It’s about creating safer spaces all over the festival and having mobile teams.”
“People said they’ve never seen so many people with disabilities partying together with the crowd”
Szép believes the increased support teams, in combination with a diverse programme, is the reason for Superbloom’s majority-female audience, which has increased from 60% to 70% since last year.
Female representation on the lineup was also high – at 45% – though the director says the goal isn’t to achieve a gender-balanced bill. “The goal is to have a good bill that is also diverse, with plenty of queer artists and artists living with disabilities,” she says.
Accessibility was once again a top priority for Szép, who grew up with a blind father. For this year’s edition, Superbloom doubled the size of the wheelchair area in the stadium and increased the number of disabled toilets. The festival attracted three times more people living with disabilities than last year.
“Audience members said they’ve never seen so many people with disabilities partying together with the crowd and how amazing it was to see that,” says Szép. “Everybody should have the possibility to have the best time of their life at a festival.
“In our experience areas, we programmed a lot of content that was about inclusion, diversity and social issues – like what is it like to be living with a disability. And we had a German rapper, who creates ironic songs about his disability, perform and appear on a panel. These are small but important things for our mission.”
“I never want to organise a perfect festival – although this year was almost perfect”
Though Szép has been widely celebrated for Superbloom’s accessibility, including by the German government, it firmly remains top of her list for the next edition.
“For the 2024 edition, I’d like to develop more services for disabled people. I’d also like to work on more special partnerships with companies that represent global, local and social issues, and on the experience aspect of the festival, making more use of the lake,” she says.
“There’s always space for development. My expectations are pretty high but I know you have to improve step by step – I think it’s important to have a natural development and not to do everything at once. I never want to organise a perfect festival – although this year was almost perfect.
“It’s also a financial question anyway. In times like these, when prices are getting higher and higher, organising a festival or creating a new brand is a huge financial risk. It will take some time for Superbloom to be profitable – it’s an investment – but we already have a strong brand in year two.
“I’m really thankful to our audience that they trusted us and bought our tickets, despite the problems that we had last year. So many festivals in Germany and Europe struggled but we sold out again. I think after year three we can be sure Superbloom will have a very stable future.”
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