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Dutch minister: We need fewer festivals

The Dutch festival market remains one of the most vibrant in the world. EM Cultuur estimates the Netherlands’ festivals will receive 19.5 million visitors in 2019 alone, while IQ’s recent market report found that it’s “hard to find anyone, in fact, who doesn’t believe the Dutch live business is broadly in the prime of its life”. But what if, instead of there being lots of festivals, there weren’t?

That’s the question being posed by the country’s justice minister, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, who is calling for a reduction in the number of festivals to help police crack down on illegal drug use.

In the Netherlands, it is legal to possess small quantity of drugs at festivals for personal use, according to, though a larger quantity (ie for supplying) should see the owner hauled off to a police station for questioning. This, however, is hardly ever enforced, suggests Grapperhaus, owing to the sheer number of music events that need to be policed.

“The problem is that we have 1,100 festivals in the Netherlands”

“The problem is that we have 1,100 festivals in the Netherlands,” he says in an interview with the Telegraaf today. “Do we have to deploy all our police to that end?”

Asked by the paper whether he thinks the number of festivals should be decreased, he replies: “Yes. I think we should be critical and say: can we handle all this?”

The Netherlands, known for its liberal attitude towards drug use, most famous cannabis, is one of several European countries where authorities tolerate drug testing on festival sites as a harm-reduction measure.


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