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Lowlands director discusses road to recovery

A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise director Eric van Eerdenburg has told IQ about the festival’s struggle to bounce back after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The annual Dutch festival, which is promoted by Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, returned last weekend (19–21 August) after two consecutive cancellations.

Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, Glass Animals and Arlo Parks were among the 250 musical artists that performed across eleven stages at the Walibi Holland site in Biddinghuizen, central Netherlands.

With a myriad of hurdles to clear after the Covid-19 pandemic, Eerdenburg says the thing he’s most proud of with Lowlands 2022 was “That we managed”.

“The vibe was great – both front and backstage. We had lots of new staff that performed great and more women on gators and with heavy tools. We also had more people of colour than ever in our workforce and audience.”

A shortage of both suppliers and staff – a challenge faced across the festival market this year – were both resolved in the end, the latter after Mojo launched a new platform featuring hundreds of festival jobs.

Though the comeback edition sold out, Eerdenburg says Lowland’s financial recovery from the scrapped 2020 and 2021 editions is “not good enough”, and that the margin on the 2022 edition was “way too low”.

The festival raised its ticket price by €35 to €255 (including fees) for 2022 weekend tickets and Eerdenburg says, reluctantly, the admission fee will have to go up again for 2023.

“I’m worried whether my young audiences can still afford to go to festivals,” he explains. “New fans are essential to artists and newcomer audiences are essential to festivals.”

But profits aside, Lowlands continued its legacy of innovation in 2022. This year saw the festival make a huge leap towards a greener festival, with Mojo and renewable energy producer Solarfields opening the world’s largest solar carport in the site’s car park.

Providing space for 15,000 cars, its 90,000 solar panels produce an annual capacity of 35 MWp of electricity, meaning around 10,000 households can be supplied with green energy – equivalent to the power consumption of roughly 100 Lowlands weekends.

This year, the power is going to the national grid but Eerdenburg expects Lowlands to start using it in 2024 after the infrastructure is up and running.

“It’s a big operational change for a festival of this size,” he says. “Regulations need to be tackled and infrastructure needs to be built.”

In the meantime, Eerdenburg and his team will turn their attention to the next edition, which will return to Biddinghuizen from 18-20 August next year.


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