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Denmark’s festival season wiped out due to restrictions

Denmark’s festival season has been decimated for the second consecutive year after the government announced that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.

The announcement came last night (3 May) and was followed this morning by a raft of festival cancellations including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May).

Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) have also been called off.

The government’s reopening agreement states that 2,000-capacity events are permitted, provided attendees are divided into sections with a maximum of 200 people in each.

“It is a day of mourning”

After 1 August, the capacity limit will be raised to 5,000 with sections of up to 500 attendees. Events with 10,000 attendees will not take place until it is ‘assessed as sound from a health point of view’.

The agreement comes after the government’s expert advisory group warned that festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, which cast serious doubt over the viability of Denmark’s 2021 festival season.

The organisers of Roskilde, which typically gathers 130,000 people each year, say its enforced cancellation is not surprising.

“We are devastated by the fact that we can’t get together at our festival and contribute to recreating the communities that the corona crisis has destroyed for so many,” says a statement on the festival’s website.

“The cancellation is very serious for the festival, for the charity society behind it and for our community. And it is serious for the artistic environments and the growth segments of culture.”

“We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already”

Esben Marcher, head of Danish live music association Dansk Live, dubbed the government’s plan an “over-cautious reopening that does not leave much hope for the festivals”. “It’s a day of mourning,” he added.

Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, believes that government acted hastily: “We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already, as we believe that it is too early to make such decisive decisions on the basis of conjecture about what the situation will look like in three months’ time and what can and cannot be done at that time.”

The reopening agreement has effectively rendered Denmark’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net redundant for the organisers of festivals and major events.

Announced in March, the safety net was designed to cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants, taking place between 1 May and 30 September 2021, in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.

 


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Danish experts advise against 10k+ festivals

Danish festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, according to the government’s advisory expert group.

The working group – which comprises cultural institutions such as Roskilde Festival – has submitted a 54-page document of recommendations on how events should be able to take place this summer.

In the report, the experts recommend that no more than 10,000 guests attend a festival but only once Denmark has reached the final stage of the restrictions.

According to the group, major events of this capacity should only take place in ‘phase 2’ – when all citizens over the age of 50 have been offered their first vaccine.

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority’s vaccine plan, which was last updated on 14 April, suggests that everyone in the over-50s age group should have received their first vaccine by the end of May.

In addition to this, all participants of a major event must have a corona pass and the event must be divided into sections with a maximum of 2,000 attendees in each. Accommodation at the campsite is not allowed and the festivals must make a health plan, says the expert group.

“We have a very hard time believing that it is realistic to carry out festivals in Denmark before the end of the summer”

The recommendation for indoor concerts with standing audiences is a maximum of 3,000 participants in phase 2.

Following the report, major Danish festivals Jelling Music Festival, Heartland, Northside, Copenhell, Tinderbox, Roskilde Festival and Nibe Festival, as well as live music association Dansk Live, have penned a joint letter urging the government to “work quickly with the recommendations” to give a final decision about the fate of the summer.

“We had all believed and hoped that we would get an answer when the government announced the plan for reopening Denmark on March 22nd. Instead, we got an expert group that has now spent precious time onto find recommendations for the reopening of major events.

“We fully recognize the great work that the expert group has put in…but the work has been started too late and we have a very hard time believing that it is realistic to carry out festivals in Denmark before the end of the summer,” the letter reads.

Minister of culture Joy Mogensen has not commented on the recommendations directly but has referred to the government’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) ‘safety net’ which will cover eligible festivals and major events between 1 May and 30 September 2021.

 


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Denmark’s NorthSide to move site in 2021

Next year will be the last NorthSide at its current home, with the Danish festival upping sticks in 2021 in favour of a new, larger site elsewhere in Aarhus.

The festival, which started in 2010, currently takes place in the Ådalen river valley, near the Danish city of Aarhus.

NorthSide 2021 will occupy new greenfield festival grounds at Eskelund, also near Aarhus, which is more than twice the size of the Ådalen site – meaning “that a whole range of ideas and experiences which Ådalen could not accommodate can finally become a reality”, say organisers.

“The festival must be ‘a controlled chaos’, which is also the essence of what our guests expect: NorthSide must surprise, challenge and perhaps even disrupt them a bit,” explains festival CEO Brian Nielsen.

“In 2020, we will focus even more on creating the right atmosphere”

“The festival must never be ‘just another music festival’, which is why in 2020, we will focus even more on creating the right atmosphere, new scenes and party events at the festival.”

Tickets for NorthSide 2020, the last at Ådalen (which is being developed for residential use), go on sale on 1 October. The festival takes place from 4 to 6 June 2020.

Northside is owned by Down the Drain Group, itself now a subsidiary of Superstruct Entertainment.

 


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