Blue Ridge Rock Festival latest victim of weather
Organisers of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in the US were forced to end the event early due to severe weather.
The sold-out festival took place at the Virginia International Raceway with acts including Slipknot, Death Punch, Megadeth, Pantera, Shinedown and Danzig, and was due to run between 7 and 10 September.
A powerful thunderstorm hit Blue Ridge (cap. 50,000) on its opening day, cutting Coheed and Cambria’s set short and prompting an evacuation of the racetrack.
The festival resumed the next day but organisers were forced to pull the plug on the final two days due to the approach of more dangerous weather.
“With heavy hearts, due to this weekend’s continued severe weather, we must announce the cancellation of the final days of Blue Ridge Rock Festival,” organisers announced via social media on Saturday (9 September).
“This has been an agonising turn of events for what was to be such a special weekend”
“Your safety and well-being are our foremost concerns. We understand the disappointment this brings, and we share immensely in your sadness. Please know that this decision was made with the utmost consideration for everyone involved and our focus now is on supporting those of you still on-site.”
“This has been an agonising turn of events for what was to be such a special weekend. There will be much more that we will unveil over the next few days. Rest assured, we will take care of you despite these difficult circumstances.”
Following the cancellation, several artists, including Shinedown, Papa Roach, and viral country sensation Oliver Anthony performed an impromptu set for disappointed fans.
Organisers said information regarding refunds will be made available early this week “when business re-opens.”
Extreme weather has impacted a number of 2023 festivals and outdoor concerts including IYKYK, Bluedot (UK), Pitchfork Festival Chicago (US) Primavera (ES), Dutch festivals Awakenings, Bospop and Wildeburg, Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival and Robbie Williams’ concert in Austria.
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Dutch hip-hop festival axed due to ‘rising costs’
Dutch hip-hop festival Oh My! will no longer take place this year as organisers are “currently faced by some of the biggest challenges in our history”.
The ALDA-promoted festival is touted as the biggest urban festival in Europe and has previously hosted acts including Wizkid, DaBaby, Lil Baby, Meek Mill, Tory Lanez and Trey Songz.
This year’s edition was due to take place on 15 July at Almere Beach, in the province of Flevoland, and would’ve been the sixth annual instalment.
Last year’s 5th-anniversary event moved to Rotterdam’s De Kuip football stadium for the biggest edition in its history.
“The cost of living crisis, increased production costs and last-minute safety regulations are all weighing on our capacity”
“After an impressive five years of celebrating hip hop, R&B and Afrobeats with some of the world’s biggest acts, we’re faced by some of the biggest challenges in our history,” reads a statement from the organisers.
“The cost of living crisis, increased production costs in general and last-minute safety and crowd regulations we need to implement due to recent events in our industry are all weighing on our capacity to make Oh My! happen and deliver the standard you’ve come to expect of us. It is therefore with a heavy heart that we decided we can’t go forward with this year’s edition.”
Alluding to the future of the festival, organisers said they “look forward to updating you with our plans when the time is right”.
Other festivals that have been called off for 2023 include Falls Festival (Australia), Rolling Loud (US), Summerburst (Sweden), Hills of Rock (Bulgaria), InMusic (Croatia), Wireless Germany, Hear Hear (Belgium) and Tempelhof Sounds and Tempelhof Sounds Presents (Germany).
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Iceland Airwaves 2021 cancelled due to new restrictions
Iceland Airwaves has been cancelled for a second consecutive year due to “new and ongoing Covid-19 measures imposed by the government”.
The festival was expected to return to Reykjavík in November this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic but organisers say the current restrictions “render a multi-venue, multi-capacity, standing event, such as Iceland Airwaves impossible to produce”.
The new measures, just delivered by the local authorities, will see venues capped at 500 people per section, all of whom must be assigned a seat as guests are not allowed to face each other.
The government is also introducing mandatory rapid tests, which must be taken within 48 hours of the event, for everyone attending an event.
Events that do not require attendees to be seated or to take a test cannot have more than 200 people in each section.
The news comes months after the Icelandic government abolished all temporary regulations relating to the coronavirus, as the country was reaching a vaccination rate of 90% in adults.
“It seems these new measures are here for the indefinite future”
“Despite Iceland approaching a vaccination rate of over 90%, the Icelandic government has, to date, not laid out any plan to get large-scale music events started again,” reads a statement from the organisers.
It continues: “It seems these new measures are here for the indefinite future and everything regarding the execution of, and access to the obligatory rapid tests is still unclear. This means that for the time being, planning any all large-scale events in Iceland is not possible.
“Even though it is our belief that events like Iceland Airwaves can now be executed in a safe and responsible manner, using all available safety measures, the authorities apparently disagree. It goes without saying, the team at Airwaves is devastated to have to move the festival for yet another year.”
According to the Reuters Covid-19 tracker, infections are actually decreasing in Iceland, with 73 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 62% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on August 5.
Arlo Parks, Sad Night Dynamite, Eydís Evensen, Bartees Strange, Daði Freyr, Daughters of Reykjavík, Metronomy, Mammút, Squid, Dry Cleaning, Porridge Radio, Black Pumas and more were due to perform at Iceland Airwaves 2021.
The festival will return to Reykjavïk from 2-5 November 2022. Visit icelandairwaves.is for more information.
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“Our heart bleeds”: Belgian government axes Pukkelpop 2021
There will be no Pukkelpop this year after all, the festival announced today, as a result of new government regulations that would have required it to almost triple its on-site testing capacity with less than a month to go until gates open.
Pukkelpop – the last remaining major international music festival in Belgium following the cancellation last month of Tomorrowland – has been told by the Belgian federal government it may not proceed this year its current form, according to a statement from organisers. The 66,000-cap. festival would have taken place near Hasselt between 19 and 22 August with artists including Liam Gallagher, Editors, Future, Anne-Marie and Marshmello.
Amid ongoing uncertainty over the political situation, the festival suspended ticket sales and halted its build yesterday before confirming its cancellation this afternoon (23 July).
“The current framework has made it impossible for us to organise Pukkelpop,” say organisers. “The additional demands in terms of testing would require us to almost triple the testing capacity at and in the run-up to the festival.”
The festival has initially planned for a daily Covid-19 testing capacity of 7,000. However, recent changes in the minimum time for festivalgoers to take rapid antigen (lateral-flow) and PCR tests ahead of the event, announced by the Belgian government on Monday, have finally rendered Pukkelpop 2021 unfeasible, the statement continues.
“The government finds itself in an unenviable position and so do we,” it explains. “Originally a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of arrival was enough but on Monday this was reduced to 48 hours. In addition, a negative antigen test was no longer sufficient for fans to be admitted to the festival. Since Thursday antigen testing is allowed again, but the initial validity of 48 hours has been reduced to 24 hours.
“For a multi-day mass event with such a young audience, daily testing is simply not feasible”
“Initially we planned for a capacity of up to 7,000 tests per day at the Pukkelpop site but the 24/48 hour limit for the validity of, respectively, a rapid antigen test or a PCR test means that we would have to triple this capacity. To put things into perspective: this is 21 times the capacity of the Park Spoor Noord testing village in Antwerp at the height of its activities. The 24/48 hour limit effectively means tripling the number of tests, but there is no way we could guarantee the government we can organise this under safe circumstances. This is simple [maths] and a healthy dose of common sense.”
Organisers say the limited vaccine take-up among its young-skewing audience meant 80% of festivalgoers would have had to take a test on site.
“Despite the best efforts of [Belgium’s] vaccination task force and the many vaccination centres in the province of Limburg and beyond, we are forced to conclude that the vaccination rate within our target demographic is not as we had hoped,” they explain. “Almost eight in ten of our young audience would have to submit to testing. For a multi-day mass event with such a young audience, many of which haven’t had the opportunity to get vaccinated, daily testing of so many youngsters is simply not feasible.
“Pukkelpop mainly targets youngsters. They are the DNA of Pukkelpop, our core audience. Their happiness, but also their safety, is one of our number one concerns.
“We deeply regret the fact that the authorities made this decision just one month before the start of the festival but the Covid measures were always going to be subject to the latest developments. As a result, Pukkelpop 2021 can no longer take place as planned.”
“Our heart bleeds, especially for all those youngsters who were so looking forward to Pukkelpop this year,” they add. “More than anything we were rooting for them, but in the end a favourable outcome wasn’t on the cards.”
Sónar pulls 2021 flagship festival, plans new events
Barcelona’s Sónar festival, scheduled to take place this June, has been called off for the second consecutive year due to force majeure.
“The case numbers, mobility restrictions, and the lack of applicable legislation for the organisation of large events have made the celebration of the festival in the conditions required unviable,” reads a statement from the organisers.
The festival, which is majority-owned by Superstruct parent Providence Equity Partners, is one of Barcelona’s three major international music festivals, along with Cruïlla (still scheduled to go ahead this year) and Primavera (set to return in 2022).
In lieu of Sónar’s flagship festival, the organisers are planning two new in-person festivals for Barcelona in autumn 2021.
One of the two new festivals is AI and Music Festival, which will be organised by Sónar alongside the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC), béteve and the European Commission as part of the S+T+ARTS initiative.
“The case numbers, mobility restrictions, and lack of applicable legislation for large events make [Sónar 2021] unviable”
The festival, slated to take place in Barcelona on 27 and 28 October, will focus on the ‘application of and challenges surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence in musical creation’.
Sónar’s second 2021 festival is SónarCCCB (Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture), which takes place on 29 and 30 October and will include live performances, debates and demonstrations as part of the Sónar+D conference.
Both festivals will be in-person events but Sónar is also expanding its online content under the tag #ThisIsSonar, which will be produced in collaboration with local and international partners.
Sónar’s new events will feature over 60 activities and will be ‘presented in hybrid format, mainly live and in-situ, but with an important digital and online component’.
Within this frame, Sónar Istanbul will also celebrate its 5th edition on 2 October.
Rock am Ring/im Park, Hurricane and more called off
Some of Germany’s biggest music festivals, including Eventim Presents/DreamHaus’s Rock am Ring (95,000-cap.) and Rock im Park (75,000-cap.), FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane (78,000-cap.) and Southside (65,000-cap.) and ESK Events’ Deichbrand Festival (60,000-cap.), have been called off for a second year running.
The festivals’s promoters, all part of the Eventim Live network, “were compelled to call off the events due to the ongoing uncertainty about infection rates and mutations”, according to a statement from CTS Eventim.
Also off are dance music festival SonneMondSterne (35,000-cap.) and Swiss event Greenfield, which is also promoted by Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio.
Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim, says: “We regret these cancellations very much and share the disappointment of everyone involved. But precedence must, of course, be given to safeguarding and protecting the health of fans, performers, festival teams and partners.
“However, it is also clear that this continuing uncertainty is further exacerbating the dramatic financial situation in which the live music industry finds itself. We are working on many levels to ensure that live culture can return to the stage as quickly and safely as possible.”
“We have had to accept with a heavy heart that festivals of this magnitude are not yet feasible at present”
Other major German festivals, including Melt Festival, Wacken Open Air, Parookaville, Wireless Germany and Superbloom, are still on at the time of writing.
Frithjof Pils, managing director of Eventim Live, says that “2021 was actually meant to be the summer of reunions, and festival organisers have invested a great deal of time and energy in sanitary and infection control concepts to make that possible. But given the persistent epidemiological situation and the associated restrictions in force, we have had to accept with a heavy heart that festivals of this magnitude are not yet feasible at present.”
“We are therefore focusing on the 2022 festival summer,” he adds, “and want to make it unforgettable for all of us.”
Download festival 2021 cancelled
There will be no Download festival in the UK this summer, promoter Festival Republic confirmed today (1 March).
Iron Maiden, Kiss and Biffy Clyro will headline the 2022 edition of the 110,000-capacity rock and metal festival, which returns to Donington Park in Leicestershire next 10–12 June. Tickets for Download 2022 go on sale this Friday (5 March) at 10am GMT, priced from £250 for a standard weekend camping pass.
Download, which would have taken place from 4 to 6 June 2021, is the first of Live Nation-owned Festival Republic’s events to announce it will be unable to go ahead for a second consecutive year, with the likes of Wireless (2–4 July) and Latitude (22–25 July) still on for now and Reading and Leeds (27–29 August) having already sold out.
Download Australia, which would have debuted in 2020, is on hiatus, as are Download Madrid and Download France in Paris (both of which last took place in 2019).
“Ware determined to make the show one hell of a party and the greatest homecoming ever”
“Downloaders, your 2022 headliners are here,” comments Download booker Andy Copping. “Rock’n’roll legends Kiss will be kicking off Friday in style, Iron Maiden will return, bringing with them mascot Eddie and more fire than we can handle, and what better way to end the festival than with Biffy, who will leave us awestruck with their energy. I’m counting down the days already.”
“Like everyone, we were all hugely disappointed when the global pandemic forced the cancellation of Download 2020, which would have been Maiden’s seventh time headlining here,” says Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, “so we are delighted to be invited back and fulfil our ambition of playing Donington Park in every decade since the 1980s.
“As most people know, this festival is hallowed ground for us – and Eddie – and our fans’ vocal support and enthusiasm is always phenomenal and much appreciated. We can’t wait to see everyone again, and are determined to make the show one hell of a party and the greatest homecoming ever.”
Further Download 2022 artists will be announced in the coming months.
Norway’s festival sector compensated NOK 120m+
Live Nation Norway, All Things Live and Tons of Rock will benefit from the latest round of compensation from the Norwegian government’s scheme for organisers and subcontractors in the cultural sector.
The scheme, funded by the ministry of culture and distributed by Norway’s cultural council (Kulturradet), has so far paid out approximately NOK 1.4bn to more than 2,000 applicants across various compensation schemes for 2020.
For the latest tranche, which covers the period of May to August 2020, the cultural council is distributing more than NOK 120m (€11.7m) to some of the biggest players in Norway’s festival sector.
Live Nation Norway has been granted NOK 24.7m as an organiser – just under the NOK 25m it applied for.
Nordic live entertainment powerhouse All Things Live will receive NOK 36.4m – two million less than they applied for – for around 20 concerts that had to be cancelled in 2020.
While, Live Nation-owned Oslo festival Tons of Rock will benefit from NOK 36.1m, the full amount applied for by the organisers.
Other successful applicants include Kristiansand beach festival, Palmesus (NOK 27.1m); organiser of Ålesund Live, Summer party at Giske and Jugendfest, Momentium Live (NOK 8.4m); and Fredrikstad-based all-ages festival, Idyll (NOK 8.7m).
“The largest players in the sector are also large employers and an important part of the cultural sector’s business chain”
“The applications for the compensation schemes show us both how hard the cultural sector has been affected, and how diverse the Norwegian cultural economy is,” says Kristin Danielsen, director of the cultural council.
“The largest players in the sector are also large employers and an important part of the cultural sector’s business chain. Therefore, I would have liked to have had the application process completed earlier.
“At the same time, it has been important for us to process the applications thoroughly. These are community funds, and it is our responsibility to manage them in the best possible way.”
More than 1,500 applications were received for the compensation scheme for the period May-August and more than 1,200 applicants received their decisions in the early autumn of 2020, with a few more applicants yet to be notified.
The Cultural Council is now processing applications for the scheme that applies to September, and the period of October–December has an application deadline of 1 March.
The scheme is designed to compensate organisers and subcontractors that were financially impacted by the Norwegian government’s ban on live events which was extended into late 2020, causing the cancellation of the country’s biggest festivals.
Norway’s ministry of culture last week announced a NOK 350 million financial safety net will allow festival organisers plan for July and August 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
Major US festivals reschedule as Coachella cancels
Goldenvoice’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival will no longer take place this April after being issued with a cancellation order by local authorities.
Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for Riverside County, California, tweeted late on Friday (29 January) that neither festival – scheduled for 9–11/16–18 April and 23–25 April, respectively – would be allowed to go ahead in light of the deteriorating coronavirus situation in the state, which passed 40,000 deaths from Covid-19 the following day.
Due to the pandemic, Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser today (Jan. 29) signed a public health order canceling Coachella Valley Music and Arts, Stagecoach Country Music festivals planned for April 2021. We look forward to when the events may return. https://t.co/YAIn8uTea9
— Dr. Geoffrey Leung (@RivCoDoc) January 29, 2021
It is the third time the festivals, which take place on the same site in Indio, in the Coachella Valley, have been called off since March 2020, when they were originally rescheduled for October, and then again to April 2021.
Aside from Glastonbury Festival in the UK, Coachella is the biggest international music festival to have cancelled its 2021 event, casting a pall over the summer festival season. It is unclear whether Coachella and Stagecoach, a country music event, will again attempt to reschedule for autumn or aim for a 2022 return.
Goldenvoice owner AEG has already pushed back one festival, the seven-day New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, to later this year: Jazz Fest, which normally begins on the last weekend in April will instead take place from 8 to 17 October.
“If Covid-19 were detected at the festivals, the scope and number of attendees would make it infeasible … to track those who may be placed at risk”
“It’s taking longer than we want, but we’ll all have our celebration when the time comes,” says festival producer Quint Davis. “Your health, along with the health of our musicians, food and crafts vendors, and all of the folks that work to make the magic happen, remains the priority as we plan the return of Jazz Fest.”
Also making the move from summer to the autumn months are a pair of Live Nation events, Bonnaroo (2–5 September) and New York festival Governors Ball (24–26 September), neither of which have announced a 2021 line-up, and Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, which has applied for an event permit for the weekend of 10–12 September, as opposed to its normal July dates.
The decision to cancel Coachella and Stagecoach was taken over concerns that both festivals could have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus, according to the order linked by Kaiser. “If Covid-19 were detected at the festivals, the scope and number of attendees and the nature of the venue would make it infeasible, if not impossible, to track those who may be placed at risk,” it reads.
Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease specialist, predicted last month that indoor shows could return “some time” in autumn, depending on the pace of the US vaccine programme.
Glastonbury Festival 2021 is cancelled
The 2021 edition of Glastonbury Festival is cancelled, according to a statement from organisers Michael and Emily Eavis.
“With great regret, we must announce that this year’s Glastonbury Festival will not take place, and that this will be another enforced fallow year for us,” reads the statement on the Worthy Farm event’s website.
“In spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year. We are so sorry to let you all down.
“It has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year. We are so sorry to let you all down”
“As with last year, we would like to offer all those who secured a ticket in October 2019 the opportunity to roll their £50 deposit over to next year, and guarantee the chance to buy a ticket for Glastonbury 2022. We are very appreciative of the faith and trust placed in us by those of you with deposits, and we are very confident we can deliver something really special for us all in 2022!
“We thank you for your incredible continued support and let’s look forward to better times ahead.”
Phil Bowdery, chair, Concert Promoter’s Association and LIVE co-founder: “It is devastating that Glastonbury, one of the crown jewels of the UK’s live music and festival scene, has been forced to cancel for another year.
“We need time to prepare and we desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme to unlock our future”
“With some light at the end of the tunnel, with the vaccine roll-out underway, we need time to prepare and we desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme to unlock our future. Now more than ever we need this to be put in place or our globally successful festival industry could be damaged for years to come.”
DCMS Committee chair and MP, Julian Knight, says: “The news that the UK has lost the Glastonbury Festival for a second year running is devastating. We have repeatedly called for ministers to act to protect our world-renowned festivals like this one with a government-backed insurance scheme. Our plea fell on deaf ears and now the chickens have come home to roost.
“The jewel in the crown will be absent but surely the government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector.”
“The government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector”
Dave Webster, Musicians Union, says: “We are bitterly disappointed to hear that Glastonbury has announced its had to cancel this year’s festival. Another devastating blow to the music industry caused by this insidious virus. Ongoing uncertainty around insurance is leaving other festivals and events in a precarious position for 2021.”
In December last year, Emily Eavis joined many across the UK’s live industry in appealing for a government-backed event cancellation fund – similar to schemes that have launched in Germany and Austria – to enable operators to plan for this summer’s festival season without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Eavis said the festival had struggled to get cancellation insurance from commercial underwriters to help cover losses if the 2021 edition were to be postponed or cancelled.
Prior to that, her father Michael, with whom she organises the festival, warned back in June that they would “seriously go bankrupt” if they were not able to hold the festival again.
Last year’s 50th-anniversary event was meant to be headlined by Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar, but it was cancelled during the initial national lockdown in March 2020.
With great regret, we must announce that this year’s Glastonbury Festival will not take place, and that this will be another enforced fallow year for us. Tickets for this year will roll over to next year. Full statement below and on our website. Michael & Emily pic.twitter.com/SlNdwA2tHd
— Glastonbury Festival (@glastonbury) January 21, 2021
At the beginning of January, key stakeholders in the UK’s festival industry gave evidence at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s inquiry into safeguarding the future of the sector.
Witnesses including Parklife’s Sacha Lord, AIF’s Paul Reed and UK Music chief Jamie Njoku-Goodwin relayed the key demands of the sector, which include an indicative date for a full return to live; a government-backed coronavirus cancellation scheme; a three-year extension of the VAT reduction and an extension for business rates relief.
Following the inquiry, the DCMS Committee wrote to the chancellor of the exchequer to ask for a government-backed insurance scheme for concerts and festivals, or risk “a summer without festivals”.
Glastonbury is the second major European festival to cancel its 2021 edition after Switzerland’s Baloise Session this morning called off this year’s in-person event scheduled for the autumn. Beatrice Stirnimann, CEO of the Baloise Session, said “it’s impossible to plan with any certainty”.
This story is being regularly updated.