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Belgium enjoys first festival weekend back

Hundreds of thousands of music fans attended festivals across Belgium in the last few days, marking the country’s first big festival weekend since restrictions were relaxed.

Paradise City, Alcatraz, Leuven Air and Jazz Middelheim were among the events to take advantage of the Belgium federal government’s Covid Safe Ticket (CST) to do away with social distancing, masks, and the previous 5,000-capacity limit.

The CTS launched last Friday (13 August) for outdoor events of over 1,500 people to certify that all attendees are either fully vaccinated or have returned a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 48 hours. The certification will apply to indoor events from 1 September.

Dance festival Paradise City, which took place between 13–15 at Ribaucourt Castle in Perk, Steenokkerzeel, welcomed a total of 25,500 festivalgoers for its three-day extravaganza.

Those attending who weren’t fully vaccinated could take a rapid test at the festival’s test centre for the cost of €15. It was reported that, of the 3,300 tests taken at the festival, a total of six people tested positive – all of whom were sent home.

There were no infections among the campers which is “proof that government protocols work,” says Paradise City co-founder, Gilles De Decker. “This offers hope for the entire event sector.”

“”After a long period of uncertainty, we were finally back to doing what we are passionate about”

Alcatraz also took place over the weekend, welcoming 12,000 fans per day to Sports Campus Lange Munte in Kortrijk for performances from the likes of Epica, Kreator and Jinjer.

The hard rock and metal festival chose to offer PCR tests onsite rather than rapid tests, which were free of charge for those who hadn’t used up all of their government-funded PCR tests or €56 for those who had.

“After a long period of uncertainty, we were finally back to doing what we are passionate about: creating a gathering that encompasses all facets of the metal genre for our precious inmates to enjoy,” say the organisers.

“Because of the challenging nature of organising this year’s edition, we were even more compelled to make sure Alcatraz Festival 2021 would be absolutely impeccable! We confronted every hurdle head-on and succeeded in organising a safe, but thrilling festival thanks to you metalheads.”

Leuven Air and Jazz Middelheim, which also took place last weekend, did not build their own test villages as it was “too expensive,” according to the organisers. “We should have passed on the costs to our audience,” they added.

The implementation of the CST comes too late for major international festivals including Pukkelpop, Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland, which have already been called off.

 


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