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‘As disappointed as our guests’: Germany cans summer fests

Germany, Europe’s largest live music market, has become the latest European nation to outlaw all large-scale live events until 31 August, forcing the mass cancellation of some of Europe’s best-loved music festivals.

“Since major events play an important role in spreading infection, they remain prohibited until at least 31 August 2020,” reads a news release from the German federal government, which had yesterday (15 April) given the go-ahead for shops and schools to reopen.

Among the affected events are nearly all of Germany’s summer festival fixtures, including MLK’s Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane and Southside, Goodlive’s Melt and Splash! Festivals and Superstruct’s Wacken Open Air and Parookaville – with the likes of Goodlive’s Lollapalooza Berlin and new festival Superbloom (both 5–6 September) spared from the ban by a matter of days.

The German restrictions follow similar coronavirus-driven bans on summer events elsewhere in Europe, including Belgium (until 31 August), France (mid-July), Austria (30 June) and Denmark (31 August).

For FKP Scorpio – which, in addition to its flagship twin open-airs, is also calling off Highfield, Deichbrand, Elbjazz, Limestone and Mera Luna – the decision, although “a clear and important safety measure”, is a source of sadness for the entire company, says founder-CEO Folkert Koopmans.

“All of us are bitterly disappointed”

“It goes without saying that these cancellations, like the entire unprecedented [Covid-19] situation, make us very sad, even if we fully support the political decision to protect the population,” comments Koopmans. “Our whole team has been working with countless partners for a long time in preparation for the summer festival season, and is as disappointed as our guests.”

Thomas Jensen, co-founder of metal festival Wacken Open Air, which sold out its 2020 edition under a day, echoes: “Our whole team has been working intensively on the festival these last months, and all of us are bitterly disappointed that we are not allowed to celebrate a Wacken Open Air together with our visitors and the bands this year.”

Similarly sold out were Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, promoted by CTS Eventim’s Marek Lieberberg Konzeragentur, which would have celebrated 35 and 25 years in 2020, respectively.

“For the organisers, the artists and the 175,000 fans who wanted to celebrate 35 years of Rock am Ring and 25 years of Rock im Park in the first weekend in June, this decision is of course disappointing,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Nevertheless, the producers unreservedly support these inevitable measures in the interests of the safety and health of everyone involved, however sad we are over the cancellation of the festivals.”


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‘We inspired people with jazz’: Elbjazz hails record sales

A total of 20,000 day and two-day tickets were sold for Elbjazz 2019, in a record-breaking ninth edition for one of Germany’s largest jazz festivals.

On both days of the event, Friday 31 May (headlined by Jamie Cullum) and Saturday 1 June (headlined by Tower of Power), around 15,000 people attended, at both festival sites, at venues in Hamburg’s HafenCity and at the Blohm + Voss shipyard. More than 50 artists played, with other performers including London trio Kamaal Williams, Danish bluesmen the Savage Rose and electronic folk artist Sophie Hunger.

Other highlights included an appearance by Hamburg’s senator for culture and media, Carsten Brosda, a ‘history of jazz’ set by pianist Jason Moran at the Elbphilharmonie and a performance by the Michael Wollny trio at Blohm + Voss which “stunned the audience with its breathtaking improvisation”.

Elbjazz festival director Alexander Schulz attributes the festival’s success to the growing public appetite for jazz music, as documented in IQ’s recent jazz feature, with the festival “inspiring” its visitors with its diverse line-up.

“The artists who had appeared were enthusiastic about the unique festival atmosphere”

“We are very pleased with the entire course of the festival,” he comments. “Whether they performed at Blohm + Voss, at the Elbphilharmonie, at St Katharinen or on the MS Stubnitz, the artists who had appeared were equally enthusiastic about the unique festival atmosphere, the extraordinary venues and the audience. Everything went according to plan.

“The weather also played along and spoiled us with early summer temperatures. We are very happy about these two successful days, but especially about the fact that we once again inspired tens of thousands of visitors with jazz.”

Elbjazz 2020 takes place on 5 and 6 June. Ticket sales begin in November 2019, with the first 11,000 Elbjazz 2019 ticket buyers given priority.


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