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Superstruct acquires trio of European festivals

Superstruct has bought majority stakes in London-based festivals Mighty Hoopla and Cross the Tracks, as well as Austria’s Snowbombing.

IQ understands the controlling stakes were bought from various companies owned by Gareth Cooper (founder and former CEO of Broadwick Live). Financial details have not been disclosed.

The deal marks the second time the two companies have done business together, after divvying up Global’s festival portfolio in April 2019. Snowbombing and Mighty Hoopla were among the festivals that remained under Broadwick’s control.

Established in 1999, Snowbombing is the biggest and longest-standing of the three events. The luxury ski holiday, touted as Europe’s biggest snow and music festival, now brings 100+ international acts to perform around the slopes of Mayrhofen, in the Austrian state of Tyrol.

Fatboy Slim, Madness, Pendulum, Example, Magnetic Man, Sub Focus, Tinie Tempah, Chase & Status, Skream & Benga, Mark Ronson and Dizzee Rascal are among the acts that have performed at the festival.

The inaugural edition of Snowbombing took place in Risoul, France. It then moved to Villars, Switzerland, in 2002-2003 and Les Arcs, France, in 2004 before settling in Mayrhofen in 2005.

Superstruct’s acquisition of the festival is a result of the company taking a stake in Snowbombing parent SBH Events – a company controlled by Cooper.

Mighty Hoopla is described as “a pop festival embracing the best of pop, alternative and queer culture” and has featured acts including Sugababes, Steps, Jessie Ware, Cheryl, Chaka Khan and TLC, Kelly Rowland and Kelis.

Mighty Hoopla is described as “a pop festival embracing the best of pop, alternative and queer culture”

Launched in 2017, the festival’s inaugural edition took place in east London’s Victoria Park on the Sunday after the two-day Field Day festival, also produced by Broadwick Live.

In 2018, Mighty Hoopla and Field Day moved to south London’s Brockwell Park (cap. 30,000) after AEG Presents/Goldenvoice was awarded a five-year contract for the exclusive use of Victoria Park for events. AEG Presents’ All Points East was launched that same year.

In 2019, Field Day festival moved again, trading fields for warehouses located at Meridian Water in north London. Mighty Hoopla remained at Brockwell Park and Broadwick Live launched new festival Cross The Tracks on the Sunday of the same weekend.

Hoopla expanded to a two-day festival in 2022, taking place on a Friday and Saturday while Cross the Tracks followed on Sunday. The 2023 edition of the queer pop festival took place last weekend (2–3 June) with acts including Years & Years, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Natasha Beddingfield, Kelis, Artful Dodger and Beverly Knight.

Cross the Tracks, launched in 2019, is dubbed “a family-friendly festival, celebrating the world of soul, funk and jazz with a mix of international artists and local homegrown talent”.

The Brockwell Park festival has welcomed acts including Chaka Khan, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Khruangabin, Gilles Peterson, Joy Crookes, Anderson. Paak, Macy Gray, The Cinematic Orchestra and Sister Sledge. This year’s sold-out edition of Cross the Tracks moved to the bank holiday Sunday in May.

Superstruct Entertainment has now amassed nearly 90 festivals in Europe and Australia, which makes it the second-largest festival promoter in the world after Live Nation.

The company was founded in 2017 by Creamfields founder and former Live Nation president of electronic music James Barton and Roderik Schlosser whilst at Providence Equity Partners.

Cross the Tracks is dubbed “a family-friendly festival, celebrating the world of soul, funk and jazz”

The company has a presence in at least eight markets including the UK, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Australia.

In the UK, it has interests in Y NotTruckNassBlue DotVictoriousSouth West FourKendal CallingTramlinesBoardmasters and Lost Ventures – many of which were acquired when Global’s portfolio was divvied up in April 2019.

Elsewhere in Europe, the company’s network includes leading operators and festivals such as Elrow (ES), Sziget (HU), Wacken Open Air (DE), Mysteryland (NL), Hideout (HR), Sonar (ES), Flow (FI), Defqon1 (NL), Parookaville (DE), Zwarte Cross (NL), Arenal Sound (ES), Øya (NO), O Son do Camiño (ES) and Tinderbox (DK).

IQ also understands that Superstruct has an interest in 10–12 festivals in Australia, some of which operate under the same brand.

Alongside festivals, the live entertainment behemoth also owns festival travel and accommodation companies such as Festival Travel and Liffin, both of which are based in the Netherlands.


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Experience economy fuels resort festival rise

For decades, grassy and often muddy fields have been the setting for music festivals worldwide, but as the overall festival experience has crept ever higher on fans’ priority lists, different kinds of sites have begun to catch the eye of festival organisers.

From snowy slopes to golden sands, resorts offer the unique selling point and quality infrastructure desired by organisers, as well as appealing to the experiential tendencies of the millennial festivalgoer.

“People’s tastes have changed,” Gareth Cooper, CEO of Broadwick Live and director of Snowbombing festival tells IQ, adding that people in general “have more disposable income” and often view a festival as a “second holiday” nowadays.

Starting 21 years ago as an après-ski party, Snowbombing has evolved into a week-long live music event. The line-up for Snowbombing 2020, taking place from 13 to 18 April, includes Liam Gallagher, the Streets, Foals and Big Narstie.

Mainstage Festivals-promoted Snowboxx (6,000-cap.) also takes its inspiration from the traditional partying aspect of ski holidays.

“We all know that après is the real reason why people go skiing,” says Mainstage marketing manager Juan Lopez. “Sipping a cold one after a day on the slopes is the perfect way to unwind, but there is not much to do on the mountain after that.”

“People’s tastes have changed and they have more disposable income”

To counter that, Snowboxx has brought artists such as Basement Jaxx, Wilkinson and Craig David’s TS5 to Avoriaz in France for the past seven years, alongside a “jam-packed schedule of off-piste activities”. Acts confirmed for the 2020 edition, taking place from 21 to 18 March, include Andy C, Annie Mac, the Sugarhill Gang and Denis Sulta.

Anthony Diaz, CEO of cruise festival specialist Sixthman, agrees that the idea of a combined holiday and music festival is really “resonating” with fans.

In addition to its many “floating festivals”, Sixthman has recently experimented with seaside resort festivals, launching Kid Rock’s Flying High Island Jam and All the Best presented by John Prine at boutique resorts in the Dominican Republic, with further plans to replicate the model in European resorts.

“People are choosing to invest more and more in experiences, rather than in material things, including in immersive music experiences and in vacations,” Diaz tells IQ. “The combination of being on vacation with your musical heroes and with others that share that same passion, it’s unbeatable.”

Fans have also shown an eagerness to travel to new places for festivals in recent years, a fact that the Mainstage Festivals team is well aware of. The idea behind the promoter’s Kala festival, which takes place in Dhërmi, a beach resort on the Albanian Riviera, is to introduce festivalgoers to a holiday location they are unlikely to have visited before.

“The Kala crowd is looking for new experiences and new adventures, so somewhere as beautiful and off the beaten path as Albania ticks all the boxes for them,” says Lopez, who refers to Albania as “Europe’s best kept secret”.

“The combination of being on vacation with your musical heroes and with others that share that same passion, it’s unbeatable”

Since Kala started in 2017, there has been a 27% increase in foreign tourists to Albania and, although the event organisers cannot take “full credit” for that, Kala is now the “flagship event” for Albania. “It’s the country’s first and biggest overseas festival and we look forward to growing along with the broader tourism industry over there,” says Mainstage CEO Rob Tominey.

For the Mainstage boss, cooperation with tourist boards is an integral aspect to overseas festivals, “not only to promote the festivals, but also to showcase the local culture.”

Broadwick’s Snowbombing, which has taken place every April at Austria’s Mayrhofen ski resort since 2006, also collaborates closely with local tourism boards and tour operators, as well as the resort’s management.

“We turn what would traditionally be the quietest week of the season into one of the busiest,” explains Cooper. “It’s an end-of-season boost for the local economy and brings very good clientele to the resort – the kind who come to socialise and make use of bars and restaurants.”

However, a festival in a resort, by its very nature, costs more for the fan. Accommodation for five nights at Snowbombing is priced between £269 and £1,500, in addition to equipment hire, ski pass and transport to and from the festival.

“We could go cheaper and use a resort in France,” admits Cooper, but “that’s not the quality we’re looking for.”

It seems that cheap and cheerful is not what Snowbombing attendees are after either, with four-star hotels, complete with swimming pools and spas, proving the most popular accommodation choice.

“When you have the right destination, people just want to go”

Quality is key for Sixthman’s event too. Guests can choose between different suites at the resort, with all concerts, meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks included in the price, as well as unlimited use of the resort’s swimming pools and beaches.

Despite high-end prices, Sixthman does not attempt to tier pricing or up-sell fans with VIP packages or events. “All our guests are VIP,” says Diaz, which helps foment a “positive”, community-like feeling among fans.

Yet, for Mainstage, cheaper prices are one of the draws of its destination-based events.

“There are a number of benefits to attending a festival abroad vs in the UK,” says Tominey. “The costs can often be more favourable with cheaper ticket prices as well as cheaper costs while there.

Even at Snowboxx, the Mainstage team tries to keep the price low, “steering clear of all-inclusive deals” and negotiating with hotels.

“We’ve seen in the past how accommodation and transfer prices have spiked around destination festivals, after a few years of them being in the location,” says Tominey. The Snowboxx team offers seven-day accommodation and festival wristband packages for between £254 (three star) and £442 (five star).

The most important aspect of this new kind of festival, however, remains the same for all. As Cooper puts it: “When you have the right destination, people just want to go.”


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