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Belgium’s festival summer hinges on April test event

Belgium’s 2021 festival season hangs in the balance of the results from a test event planned for the spring, says Flemish prime minister Jan Jambon.

Jambon had originally promised to deliver a decision by mid-March on whether this year’s festival summer could take place but now wants to wait for the results of a test event planned for late April, as well as the results from the Netherlands’ Back to Live test events.

“The festival organisers tell me they can wait a while for advice. We want to avoid a negative decision, so we’re postponing the decision. We will know more in a few weeks, that’s why we are not making a decision today,” Jambon told Terzake.

“We will receive the Dutch test results next week. We are planning a test event with more people, with a thousand people in Hasselt in April. That will yield new insights and we will also share them with the Dutch.”

“Something will certainly be possible this summer but let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he concludes.

“Something will certainly be possible this summer but let’s not get ahead of ourselves”

The April tests, announced by Flemish ministers last week, will involve 1,000 students and young people attending an event at the Grenslandhallen (Park H) in Hasselt.

The experiment will focus on the efficacy and reliability of rapid tests and home testing kits, which culture minister Zuhal Demir says could be “the key to a fun-filled summer”.

Elsewhere, Charles Gardier, director of Belgian festival Francofolies de Spa and deputy of political party Reform Movement, along with the Cultural Centre of Spa and rock group Ykons, are planning Wallonia’s first pilot concert with 400 people for late March.

Though a decision on Belgium’s 2021 festival season is still a while off, the Flemish government recently designated a total of €60 million to help the region’s organisers kickstart preparations for the summer.

However, the announcement of the fund didn’t provide enough assurance for metal festival Graspop, which became the first major Belgian festival to cancel its 2021 edition, citing ‘uncertainty surrounding the summer’.

Other major festivals in Flanders, including Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland, and Pukkelpop, are still scheduled to go ahead at the time of writing.


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