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Slovenia hosts Europe’s biggest post-pandemic festival

Smile Nation Slovenia, the largest music festival in continental Europe since the coronavirus pandemic began, took place with 5,000 fans in Ljubljana on Thursday 24 June.

Held at the city’s Ilirija sports stadium, the festival, promoted by Celje-based Smile Festival, featured performances from popular international DJs, including Australia’s Nervo and Dutch producer Quintino, and local talent such as Minless and Tim Urbanya. The festival follows last year’s seated, socially distanced event with 500 people each night over three days.

A total of 5,000 people attended the one-day Smile Nation Slovenia 2021, which took place under so-called PCT conditions (pogojev PCT), referring to the Slovenian term for Covid-status certification. All attendees had to provide proof of either vaccination against Covid-19, immunity to the disease, or a negative Covid-19 test to gain entry.

Organisers advised non-vaccinated/immune guests to get tested the day beforehand in their hometowns, though a pre-event testing point was set up in Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park for those unable to.

Other hygiene measures in place at the festival included card-only payments and hand sanitising points, while face masks were recommended but not required.

“We are proud that in these unpredictable times, we managed to undertake an event of this magnitude”

According to local media, Smile Nation Slovenia is the largest festival of the Covid-19 era in the European Union. Recent events in the UK, including Sefton Park Pilot and Download Pilot, were the same size or bigger, although they were held under clinically controlled test-event conditions.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank visitors, performers, partners, sponsors and everyone else who contributed to this unique spectacle,” say organisers in a statement. “We are proud that in these unpredictable times, we managed to undertake an event of this magnitude and make history as one of the first major ’normal’ festivals of the past two years.

“An electric atmosphere, positive energy, lots of good fun and great music: this was Smile Nation Slovenia 2021.”

Other ‘normal’ festivals going ahead this summer include Exit Festival in Serbia, Pukkelpop in Belgium, Mysteryland in the Netherlands and a handful of UK events, pending the removal of restrictions on 19 July.


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