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Long hot summer: Festivals expand for 2022

Wireless is the latest festival to announce an expanded format, ahead of what looks to be a bumper 2022 festival season.

This year, Europe’s biggest celebration of contemporary Black music will take place at three of its former sites over two weekends in July.

The Festival Republic-promoted festival will kick off on 1–3 July at London’s Crystal Palace Park, where it took place in 2021 for the first time in history.

The following weekend (8–11 July), Wireless will simultaneously take place at its traditional home of Finsbury Park in London and Birmingham’s NEC –  where it last took place in 2014.

Festival Republic today announced blockbuster headliners including A$AP Rocky (UK exclusive), J. Cole (UK exclusive), Tyler, The Creator (London exclusive), Cardi B (UK exclusive), Nicki Minaj (EU exclusive), Dave and SZA (EU exclusive).

Wireless is the latest in a long line of festivals to expand after two relatively festival-free summers.

“Adding the fourth festival day as inclusive for all previously bought three-day tickets was our way of saying thank you”

Tomorrowland (Belgium), Primavera (Spain), Mad Cool (Spain), Standon Calling (UK), InMusic (Croatia) and Summer Breeze (Germany), Rock en Seine (France), Splendour (UK) and Wonderbus Columbus (US) are among the existing festivals that have been extended for 2022.

Festival organisers have cited a number of reasons for extending their usual format including meeting pent-up demand, recouping losses, celebrating anniversaries and rewarding fan loyalty.

InMusic, Croatia’s biggest open-air music festival, added a fourth day as an all-inclusive for fans who had held onto their three-day ticket.

“Adding the fourth festival day as inclusive for all previously bought three-day tickets was our way of saying thank you for all the love and support,” says Ivana Jelaca from InMusic.

“We were moved by the messages of support we received after the pandemic hit and we were trying to figure out the best way to thank everyone for their understanding and patience.

“We choose to focus on the audiences that have been supportive and active in the years prior to the pandemic, as the two-year loss of live music content has had a huge impact on the quality of their lives.”

“People are hungry for live music and in need of a carefree festival weekend among friends”

Jelaca says that the festival’s 15th anniversary, which is delayed two years due to pandemic-related cancellations, is also cause for an extended celebration.

Alex Härtel from Silverdust, which promotes Summer Breeze in Germany, says the promoter has similar reasons for extending the festival.

“The reason is our 25th anniversary! Summer Breeze has been around since 1997 and despite three cancellations (two due to covid) we want to celebrate 25 years of existence with our loyal fans and many friends and bands from all over the world,” says Härtel.

Moreover, Härtel says the festival is capitalising on pent-up demand for live music: “People are hungry for live music and in need of a carefree festival weekend among friends,” he adds.

While each of the organisers says that their extended edition will benefit vendors, hotel properties and other entities who typically profit from the event, the added day won’t make a dent in the losses the festivals have suffered from the pandemic.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021”

“If anything, an additional festival day generates greater expenses – programming and production-wise – and as an independent mid-sized festival with a limited capacity there are only so many tickets on sale,” explains InMusic’s Jenca.

Silverdust’s Härtel echoes that sentiment, adding: “The extended programme on the first day wouldn’t justify a big enough increase in ticket price to recoup what two years of covid did to the festival. We are doing this to create something special for the fans, the crew and everyone involved with Summer Breeze.”

It isn’t just increased demand festivals will have to meet this year but also increased expectations said AEG Presents CEO of European Festivals Jim King.

“The emergence from multiple lockdowns created a unique demand that is unlikely to repeat in the same way,” he explains.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021. We will see an increasing upturn in expectation from fans as the year plays out and they have been to more and more shows and there will be a need for the industry to up its game to keep fans attending and buying more tickets in the later part of the year.”


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