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Finland: No events over 500 people until end of July

Finland has extended its ban on major events until at least 31 July, forcing the cancellation of many of the summer’s biggest music festivals, including some of Europe’s oldest open-air events.

Among the festivals affected by the extension, announced following a government meeting yesterday (23 April), are Ilosaarirock (17–19 July) in Joensuu – the second longest-running festival in Finland – and Fullsteam’s Provinssi (25–27 June) and Sideways (11–13 June), as well as several smaller events.

In near-identical statements, Provinssi, which debuted in 1979, and Sideways (which would have been headlined by System of a Down and the Chemical Brothers, and Kelis and Belle and Sebastian, respectively) say they are “heartbroken” by the cancellations and hope to announce the first performers for 2021 soon.

Joensuun Popmuusikot-organised Ilosaarirock says it “understands the government’s decision and accepts it”, and plans to make its delayed 50th-anniversary event in 2021 “the best festival ever”. Tones and I, Yungblud, Machine Gun Kelly and Sam Fender would have played Ilosaarirock 2020.

Elsewhere, Ruisrock – the oldest festival in Finland and the second-oldest in Europe, after the Netherlands’ similarly cancelled Pinkpop – was cancelled earlier this month on the order of Turku city authorities. It would have featured performances from Khalid, DaBaby, Zara Larsson and more.

“The decision … is the only responsible option in the current situation”

“Cancelling the festival is an extremely difficult decision for the organisers. We have been working for almost a year to bring more joy and happiness to the world through Ruisrock, like in the previous summers,” says Ruisrock promoter Mikko Niemelä. “For us and thousands of others, this festival is the highlight of the year, and it is heartbreaking to imagine a summer without Ruisrock.

“However, the decision we have made is the only responsible option in the current situation. The coronavirus spreads when people get together, so now is not the time to gather tens of thousands of people in the same place.”

The new guidelines in Finland follow similar decisions taken by governments elsewhere in Europe, including the Netherlands, where large events are banned until 1 September, and GermanyBelgium and Denmark, where a ban is in place until 31 August – as well as slightly shorter bans in France (mid-July) Austria (end of June) and Luxembourg (31 July) – and is in line with European Union guidance. In neighbouring Sweden, meanwhile, events over 50 people are off-limits for the foreseeable future.

“As far as events in late summer and early autumn are concerned, an assessment will be made no later than the start of June,” reads a statement from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, announcing the new restrictions.

Those events include Superstruct’s Flow Festival (14–16 August) and Live Nation Finland hip-hop event Blockfest (21–22 August), both of which are still on at the time of writing.

 


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Festival Fever: updates on 2020 summer

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from Bluedot, Sziget festival, Reading and Leeds, Lowlands, Flow Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Bluedot

When: 23 to 26 July
Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK
How many: 16,000

From the Fields’ Bluedot festival, which takes place each year at the Jodrell Band Observatory – a recently declared UNESCO World Heritage site – is back for its fifth outing in 2020 with another packed programme of music and science.

Friday night sees dance act Groove Armada head up the main stage, with indie-electro group Metronomy headlining on Saturday. The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk, who is performing alongside Manchester’s Halle Orchestra to a backdrop of bespoke projections on Jodrell Bank’s crowning jewel, the Lovell Telescope.

Elsewhere, performances will come from 808 State, Roisin Murphy, Crazy P, Spiritualized and Daniel Avery.

Last year’s Bluedot, which coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, saw headline performances from Hot Chip, Kraftwerk and New Order.

Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are available here, priced at £168.75 for a weekend camping ticket.

The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk

Sziget

When: 5 to 11 August
Where: Obuda island, Budapest, Hungary
How many: 60,000

Hungarian mega-festival Sziget released the first wave of its line-up last week, with a total of five headline acts announced so far.

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage at the week-long festival, with ASAP Rocky, Khalid, Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Foals, Mark Ronson, Foster the People, Diplo and FKA Twigs among other acts performing at the event.

Over 530,000 people attended Sziget 2019, which saw nine headline performances over seven days from Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine, Martin Garrix, the 1975, Twenty One Pilots, the National and Macklemore.

Providence Equity partners took a 70% stake in Sziget promoter Sziget Cultural Management in 2017, as the festival became one of the first assets in the now-significant Superstruct portfolio.

Tickets for Sziget 2020 are available here, with a full seven-day pass costing €299 (£249) and a VIP pass priced at €599 (£499). Prices go up on 3 March.

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage

Reading and Leeds

When: 28 to 30 August
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading/Bramham Park, Leeds, UK
How many: 100,000

Festival Republic’s twin festivals Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine this year, with fellow headliners Stormzy and Liam Gallagher.

Other performers at 2020 events include Run the Jewels, Courteeners, Migos, Gerry Cinnamon, AJ Tracey, Sam Fender, Rex Orange County, Slowthai and Idles.

The festivals last year recorded their hottest and biggest year yet, with nearly 200,00 people a day collectively attending the twin events over the hottest August bank holiday on record. Headline performances came from the 1975, Foo Fighters and Twenty One Pilots, with then-rising star, now multi award-winner Billie Eilish producing what “may well have been the biggest crowd at a Reading show ever”.

Tickets to Reading and Leeds festivals are available here, with a weekend ticket priced at £232.20 and day tickets priced between £81.50 and £86.50.

Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine, with Stormzy and Liam Gallagher

A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise

When: 21 to 23 August
Where: Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands
How many: 55,000

Mojo Concerts’ A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, or Lowlands, has confirmed the first 55 acts for its 2020 festival.

The Chemical Brothers, Foals, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Stormzy and Michael Kiwanuka are among acts playing at this year’s event.

The 2019 edition of Lowlands sold out for the fastest time in years, with a line-up featuring Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, ASAP Rocky and New Order.

In a bid to make future events more sustainable, Mojo is working together with renewable energy producer Solarfields to develop a 35-hectare solar farm on the Lowlands festival car park, due to be completed in time for 2021 festival.

Festival tickets for Lowlands 2020 have sold out, but €605 (£504) group camping tickets (up to 8 people) are still available here.

The Chemical Brothers, Foals and Lewis Capaldi are among acts playing at this year’s event

Flow Festival

When: 14 to 16 August
Where: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki-based, multi-venue music and arts event Flow Festival is playing host to acts including Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco, Stormzy, the Strokes, FKA Twigs and 070 Shake.

The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance and comes in a string of Scandinavian festival appearances, adding to slots at Norway’s Oya festival and Way Out West in Sweden.

James Barton-led festival owner/operator Superstruct acquired a stake in Flow Festival in November 2018.

Tickets for Flow Festival 2020 are available here, with a one-day ticket costing €105 (£88) and a three-day passed priced at €195 (£163).

The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance

Montreux Jazz Festival

When: 3 to 18 July
Where: Montreux, Switzerland
How many: 200,000 (whole festival)

Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz, Brittany Howard and Black Pumas are the first acts announced this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF).

Taking place on the banks of Lake Geneva, MJF celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and last year played host to performers including Elton John, Snarky Puppy, Lewis Capaldi, George Ezra, Lizzo, the Chemical Brothers, Mac DeMarco and Quincy Jones.

The MJF team last year launched media company Montreux Media Ventures, which is working together with luxury hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resort Group to establish a concert series across the group’s properties and keep the MJF spirit alive all year.

Tickets to Montreux Jazz Festival 2020 will become available on March 27, the day after the full programme is released.

 


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Flow Festival collaborates with Finnish National Opera

Helsinki-based Flow Festival has announced a collaboration with the Finnish National Opera, bringing contemporary dance, electronic music and audiovisual to the Opera house at Almi Hall (500-cap.).

The Almi Hall performances, which will take place on the two nights preceding the festival on 7 and 8 August, are the work of British choreographer Wayne McGregor.

McGregor, famed for his work with the Royal Ballet, will present his dance portrait Autobiography Edits, in collaboration with experimental electronic music producer Jlin. The piece will be performed by ten dancers from Company Wayne McGregor, accompanied by live music performed by Jlin.

Both nights are opened by Fractal Fantasy’s Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, who will present a mix of electronic music and audiovisual art.

According to Flow’s artistic director Tuomas Kallio, the National Opera collaboration will “kick things off with something different this year”.

Kallio tells IQ that he has “great expectations” for this year’s Flow Festival, which features performances from Cardi B, the Cure, Tame Impala, Robyn and James Blake.

“Many European bookers say it’s been a very difficult year to book bigger acts but looking at the Flow Festival 2019 line-up, I guess we’ve been quite lucky”

Many European bookers say it’s been a very difficult year to book bigger acts but looking at the Flow Festival 2019 lineup, I guess we’ve been quite lucky,” says Kallio, adding that the Flow team has been happy so far, despite “fees getting crazy” and “competition on the most-wanted acts getting harder.”

Another new addition for the 2019 edition of Flow Festival is “Pink Space”, a conceptual indoor venue that “celebrates Flow’s diversity and inclusivity”.

Flow has been working towards achieving a gender-balanced line-up since 2010, and Kallio admits that it has proved more taxing to increase the presence of female performers within some musical genres than others.

“What worries me,” says Kallio, “is that people mostly talk about binary gender male/female and there are many artists who don’t want to place themselves into that binary picture at all… and that’s the problem to start with. We need to be careful that we do all this the right way or we end up making things worse for certain people.”

Providence-backed Superstruct Entertainment acquired a stake in Flow Festival in November 2018.

Flow Festival will take place from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August. Tickets for both the festival and the pre-festival opera events are available here.

 


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