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Major Scandi festivals hail bumper comebacks

Last week saw some of Scandinavia’s best-known festivals welcome back record numbers of music fans.

Norway’s Øya Festival (Øyafestivalen) reported a total attendance of 88,000 over four days (or 22,000 per day) at this year’s sold-out edition, smashing its previous record of 80,000 in 2019.

The Superstruct-backed festival returned to Oslo’s Tøyen Park last week (9 and 13 August) with headliners Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

“The festival was fantastic,” Jonas Prangerød, press manger for Øya, tells IQ. “Artists, staff, volunteers and, of course, the audience enjoyed Øya finally being back. People came very early to the festival area and there was a good crowd for every band and artist.

“Both new talent and the big, established favourites impressed. I think a lot of people have got a few new favourite acts now. The warm weather suited Øya’s comeback really well. The whole week was as good as we could hope for.”

Sweden’s Way Out West also broke its own attendance record, drawing 50,000 unique visitors over three days (11–13 August) to its 2022 edition.

The Luger-promoted festival once again took over Gothenburg’s Slottsskogen city park, offering performances from the likes of Tame Impala, Beabadoobee and Fontaines D.C.

“The whole week was as good as we could hope for”

“Way Out West 2022 could not have ended up better,” Filip Hiltmann, marketing and communications manager for Way out West, tells IQ.

“After two years of silence, it felt great to finally be back in Slottsskogen doing what we do best. The sun was out the whole weekend (a rare phenomenon in Gothenburg!) and we experienced first-class sets from the likes of Burna Boy, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, First Ait Kit, Fred again… and many more. We can’t wait to be back next year, mark down 10–12 August 2023 in your calendars.”

Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Finland’s Flow Festival celebrated an attendance record of 90,000 over two days (12–14 August) or 30,000 per day.

The Superstruct-backed festival took place in the Finnish capital of Helsinki this past weekend (12–14 August), with performances from more than 160 acts including Jamie xx, Princess Nokia, Bikini Kill, MØ and Fred Again.

Notably, Gorillaz’s performance at Flow was the band’s first-ever appearance in Finland.

Next year’s Flow dates have already been set for 11–13 August, 2023, and a limited number of Super Early Bird tickets went on sale yesterday (15 August).

Other festivals that took place over the weekend, elsewhere in Europe, include Superstruct’s Sziget (Hungary), Follow The Step’s Fest Festival (Poland) and Boomtown Fair (UK).


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Norway’s 2021 festival season obliterated

Norway’s 2021 festival season has been effectively wiped out with the cancellation of Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest and Tons of Rock, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival.

The cancellations come after the minister for culture last week (6 May) announced preliminary guidelines which would restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.

The restrictions come in spite of the government’s NOK 350m festival cancellation pot, which the minister said aims to “create predictability now, so that the industry can start planning different scenarios”.

“There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice”

Bergenfest, which would have take place between 15–19 June 2021 at Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, was cancelled last night.

“With current restrictions on outdoor events in June, it is not possible to complete Bergenfest 2021 as we know the festival. There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice. It is therefore unfortunately time to confirm the inevitable – Bergenfest 2021 will not happen in June this year,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

Bergenfest will return between 14–18 June 2022.

Øya Festival, which would have taken place between 10–14 August 2021 at Tøyenparken, Oslo, was cancelled the day after the proposed restrictions were revealed.

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row”

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row,” general manager Tonje Kaada wrote on the festival’s website. “Our big wish over the past year has been to gather artists, the audience, festival workers, volunteers and partners for a unique festival experience in Tøyenparken, but it will not be possible with the guidelines that the authorities presented this week.

“There is too much uncertainty associated with the existing framework, and even the best case scenario with 5,000 people, it’s not compatible with the audience experience Øya Festival wants to provide. We have no choice but to realize that it will not be happening in 2021. Even though we are sorry, it is a relief to be able to provide a clarification to everyone who has been waiting for it. We’ll roll up our sleeves and start over now.”

Øya will return between 10–13 August 2022.

Norway is the latest European market to pull the plug on the 2021 festival season, following widespread cancellations in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Denmark and France.


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Bergen Live, Øya tasked with saving Norway’s summer

Live Nation-owned concert and festival promoter Bergen Live, and Superstruct-backed Øya Festival will be partially responsible for determining how the upcoming festival season can take place.

The two organisations will bring their live music expertise to the Norwegian government’s newly formed working group, which is completed by festival organisations spanning literature, sports, arts and agriculture.

With the input of Norway’s health authorities, the group has been tasked with the safe reopening of large outdoor events this summer, compliant with the infection rate at the time.

Minister of culture, Abid Raja, has entrusted the group with two tasks. The first is to look at alternative practical solutions that make it possible to carry out the events within the current infection control rules.

“The working group must solidify its understanding of what can be realistic when it comes to planning summer events within an optimistic scenario, an intermediate scenario and a pessimistic scenario,” the brief reads.

“The working group must solidify what can be realistic within optimistic, intermediate and pessimistic scenarios”

The second task is for the members of the group to provide professional input and suggestions for solutions that make it possible to open to a larger audience than previously allowed during the pandemic.

“The input must include plans for handling the public both to and from and during the events themselves with a view to reducing the risk of the spread of infection,” the brief outlines.

The working group will be required to submit their input on the three aforementioned scenarios by 5 March.

Norway’s government this month took an important step towards ensuring this year’s summer season can go ahead, with the announcement of a NOK 350m cancellation insurance fund for festivals.

While this week the government paid out another NOK 120m to compensate organisations including Live Nation, All Things Live and Tons of Rock for last year’s festival season wipeout.


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Green Guardians: Food and Beverage

The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly iniative highlighting some of the work being done around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.

The inaugural list features 60 entries across ten categories, selected by the Green Guardians committes, which includes representatives from some of the sector’s most respected bodies, such as A Greener Festival, Go Group, Green Music Initiative, Julie’s Bicycle and Vision:2025.

Following on from last week’s feature on organisations conducting ethical and sustainable staffing and personnel practices, this edition of Green Guardians looks at those ensuring we eat and drink in an environmentally friendly way at live events. 


Food and beverage

Stack-Cup’s vision is to live in a world where consuming is fun, guilt-free and doesn’t destroy the Earth. The team behind Stack-Cup believe that changing consumer behaviour and habits will lead to a better future for our planet.

Stack-Cup’s clients include The O2 (London), The Oval cricket ground (London) and Hong Kong Stadium. All of which had previously used tonnes of single-use plastics every year. However, by partnering with all three venues on the customer experience, cup logistics and washing infrastructure, Stack-Cup was able to implement a circular approach to reusing cups, ensuring that they were returned to the venues time and again.

In each case, there were challenges to overcome, from councils regarding health and safety through to customer deposit programmes. Working with each venue, Stack-Cup continues to fine-tune and improve its service. The company can track its impact by calculating the number of reusable cups, rather than single-use plastics, in venues, which can be articulated both in financial terms and reduction in CO2 emissions. Last year, it removed 14.8 million single-use cups from the economy.

The team behind Stack-Cup believe that changing consumer behaviour and habits will lead to a better future for our planet

The Food Line-up
The Food Line-up was founded in 2012 and is based on the principles of slow food i.e. good, clean and fair. Visiting festivals, the company’s founders became frustrated with the type of food that was being served, mostly by one giant company. They decided it was time food became part of the event line-up, hence the company name, and have been working with specialised chefs to achieve this ever since.

Alongside its main role as “food booker” for large-scale festivals and corporate events, The Food Line-Up has also developed projects such as the circular food-court, together with DGTL Festival; and Brasserie 2050, together with financial services company Rabobank, in the Netherlands. The project aims to address the issue of feeding the world’s rapidly increasing population, which is set to reach almost ten billion by 2050.

The project’s central theme was minimal impact on people, animals and the environment. In addition, all dishes were given an accurate C02 measurement and every dish told the story of a smart technologist, driven farmer or visionary entrepreneur.

The Food Line-up was founded in 2012 and is based on the principles of slow food i.e. good, clean and fair

Øya Festival
Øya Festival uses plates made from wheat bran that is compressed and shaped using steam. The end product is edible and tastes like a very dry biscuit – and has become a favourite amongst beer-thirsty audiences. Uneaten plates can be disposed of alongside food waste, and it is easy for the public to properly source them. Festivalgoers don’t need to scrape food waste off the plates, since food and plates go into the same garbage bin.

The plates are manufactured by Biotrem and are a Polish innovation. They are made from residual products that would otherwise be discarded, and represent a fantastic solution, as they replace a disposable product that would normally be made of single-use plastic.

There are drawbacks, as the plates weigh a lot, both as new products and as part of the festival’s total waste. They also tend to dissolve if left with hot liquid for too long. But all in all, it is a solution Øya is very proud to use, and the carbon footprint is minimal.

Øya Festival uses plates made from wheat bran that is compressed and shaped using steam

Det Runde Bord
Det Runde Bord (DRB) is the food waste partner of Roskilde Festival and many others, and has been spreading its message globally, and inspiring many, since 2014.

The organisation has attended around 100 festivals since its inception, and in total has saved six million meals from ending up as food waste – a significant part of which has come from wholesale food companies and food producers.

As well as food waste, DRB has undertaken a large number of projects relating to the environment involving food for the needy. During the coronavirus pandemic, the organisation was contacted by social workers due to the numerous soup kitchens that were forced to close down. DRB started production within three days, and since the end of March has distributed 500 single packaged meals a day (many thousands in total) to homeless people and drug addicts. The company will continue to do so until these people are in a sound nutritional state.

The organisation has in total has saved six million meals from ending up as food waste

Tollwood Festival
Tollwood Festival unites a zest for life, an enjoyment of culture, and a commitment to a tolerant, peaceful and sustainable world. Since the first festival in 1988, ecological and social commitment has formed the way the festival thinks and acts, and its key focus is to keep its carbon footprint as small as possible.

Tollwood is known for its international gastronomy, which is provided by around 50 restaurateurs, and since 2003, the festival’s catering has been certified in accordance with EU organic council regulation. This means that the event’s visitors can enjoy a diverse selection of 100% organic, vegetarian and vegan food from 20 or so nations. This dedication to organic, plant-based cuisine saves the festival 116 tons of CO2 per year.

As a leader in its field, Tollwood is often contacted by other festivals and venues requesting information about its returnable system and waste sorting systems.

“If you change conditions, you change behaviour! Your guests will act sustainably, when sustainability is the standard. It’s your turn, it’s your responsibility, act now!”

Your guests will act sustainably, when sustainability is the standard

Goodness Gracious Healthy Foods
Prior to starting the business in 1988, company founders Barry and Peter Tiffen, were travelling in South America where they witnessed first hand the destruction being carried
out to primary forests in order to make space for both cattle and palm oil. After seeing the effects this was having on the environment, the brothers set up Goodness Gracious Healthy Foods with the aim of providing healthy food at events and festivals and encouraging people to try a plantbased diet, which is a healthy and more environmentally friendly alternative.

In addition, after realising that very few events provide composting, the Tiffens established a system where they take leftovers to a nearby farmer to be composted.

Keeping busy during the pandemic lockdown, Barry and Peter have been converting a large, overgrown field into an organic allotment, as well as building an eco-house with rainwater harvesting, photovoltaic panels, an air source heat pump and a heat recovery system etc.


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