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Herman Schueremans on the “happy rebirth” of festivals

Live Nation Belgium CEO and Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans says this summer has been a “happy rebirth of festivals after two years of Covid”.

With a slate of sold-out festivals and concerts, Schueremans has hailed the season as “even better than 2019” and says that Belgium’s recovery is “well in line with the rest of Europe”.

A key highlight for Schueremans was Rock Werchter’s record sell-out which saw 66,000 combi-tickets and 80,000 one-day tickets fly off the shelf by the start of February – months earlier than usual.

Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and Metallica were among the acts that performed at Belgium’s biggest festival, which took place between 30 June to 3 July in Festivalpark, Werchter.

Sister festivals Werchter Boutique (cap. 60,000) and TW Classic (60,000) also sold out. However one-off event Rock Werchter Encore was called off just one month after it was announced due to “high production costs, staff shortages, and low consumer confidence”.

Elsewhere in LN Belgium’s stable of festivals, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel sold out after its capacity was expanded from 50,000 capacity to 52,000 to match high demand.

The renowned heavy metal festival, which took place across four days, sold 42,500 combi tickets and 40,000 day tickets, drawing 82,500 unique attendees.

Schueremans has hailed the season as “even better than 2019”

Capitalising further on pent-up demand for festivals, Rock Werchter also launched a new two-day festival in Brussels in partnership with fellow Belgian festival behemoth Tomorrowland.

Core debuted between 27–28 May this year in Osseghem Park, a picturesque nature area in the Belgian capital, featuring an eclectic bill topped by Stormzy, Jamie xx and Mura Masa.

“It was a promising first year with a happy audience, happy artists and happy crew. It will do very well in 2023,” says Schueremans, who attributes the festival’s success to the synergy of the Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland teams.

“We brought both teams together again and made it work like clockwork. They took care of the look of the festival site and gave it a unique feel and our team took care of the artist bill. Together we are strong,” he adds.

Live Nation Belgium has also enjoyed an extraordinary summer of concerts, selling out four stadium shows for Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres tour. With 220,000 tickets sold, Schueremans says it is a new record in Belgium.

And the promoter’s sell-out success is already seeping into next year, having sold out TW Classic (18 June 2023) with headliner Bruce Springsteen, and Harry Styles’ show at Werchter Park (24 June 2023).

Werchter Boutique (17 June 2023) and Rock Werchter (29–30 June and 1–2 July 2023) will also return next year and will soon be announced.

 


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Werchter chief toasts biggest festival summer yet

Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans says the success of this summer’s Belgian festival season is helping to stimulate ticket sales across the board.

Boasting a star-studded line-up headed by Pearl Jam, Metallica, Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Twenty One Pilots and The Killers, Belgium’s biggest festival sold out in record time in February this year.

Held from 30 June to 3 July in Festivalpark in Werchter, organisers shifted 67,000 combi-tickets and four lots of 21,000 one-day tickets for its first edition since 2020. The event attracted festival-goers from 95 countries.

“The biggest challenge was making sure everything ran as clockwork, as per the top Rock Werchter standards, and our team did it. It went super-smoothly,” Schueremans tells IQ. “Everybody was positive: in front of the stage, on stage and backstage. There were too many highlights to mention. Our audience, bands and their teams loved it.”

“We see an enormous boost in the ticket sales for our indoor shows”

Some tickets for the 88,000-cap festival were sold at 2020 prices, with those shifted after December 2021 priced higher due to increased production costs.

Next year’s Rock Werchter is set for 29 June to 2 July 2023, and the Live Nation CEO indicates the 88,000-cap event’s well-received return has had a positive knock-on effect on the domestic market overall.

“We see an enormous boost in the ticket sales for our indoor shows, especially for acts that performed well at our Werchter festivals,” says Schueremans. “It is exciting.”

Despite the cancellation of 25,000-cap spin-off Rock Werchter Encore, which was called off just one month after it was announced due to “high production costs, staff shortages, and low consumer confidence”, Schueremans reels off a string of other triumphs, declaring 2022 “our most successful summer ever”.

“We are now focusing on the four sold-out Coldplay shows at Brussels stadium”

“We had a sold out Werchter Boutique [cap. 63,000] with Stromae and Gorillaz on June 19,” he says. “We sold 60,000 tickets for TWClassic with Nick Cave, Florence + the Machine and Placebo on June 25, and a sold-out Graspop Metal Meeting – 52,000 tickets – from June 16 to 19.”

Schueremans’ attention now switches to the raft of other huge Live Nation Belgium shows planned for later in the year. Tours set to visit the country include Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Anne-Marie, Kendrick Lamar, Machine Gun Kelly and Lil Nas X.

“We are now focusing on the four sold-out Coldplay shows at Brussels [King Baudouin] stadium – 220,000 tickets – as well as the August festivals and then shows in the autumn,” he notes.

 


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Major festivals enjoy record sell-outs for 2022

Austria’s Nova Rock is the latest festival to report a record sell-out, as the sector embarks on its first full season since 2019.

The event’s promoter, Nova Music Entertainment, says a total of 225,000 visitors are expected to attend the four-day festival in Nickelsdorf this June, which marks a new attendance record.

“We are so happy and proud,” says Nova Music Entertainment, which is part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music.

After two consecutive cancellations, the annual hard rock event will return to Pannonia Fields between 9–12 June with acts including Muse, Placebo, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Rock am Ring recently announced that a record 90,000 weekend tickets had sold for its 2022 edition, while twin festival Rock im Park shifted more than 70,000 tickets.

Both of the eventimpresents/DreamHaus’s events took place last weekend with acts including Green Day, Muse, Volbeat, Placebo, Måneskin.

Elsewhere, events such as Rock Werchter and Rock in Rio have sold out their typical allocation of tickets, but in record time.

“Event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their event trips than even pre-Covid levels”

Around 1 million people registered for the chance to buy tickets to Rock in Rio’s Brazil event, which runs over two weekends from 2–4 and 8–11 September and hosts 100,000 fans per day at the Cidade do Rock.

The 4 September date, starring Justin Bieber, was the fastest sell out at a record 12 minutes, followed by days headlined by Coldplay (27 minutes), Post Malone (59 minutes), Dua Lipa (64 minutes), Green Day (104 minutes) and Guns N’ Roses (285 minutes). The remaining 2 September date, topped by Iron Maiden, has also now sold out.

Rock Werchter, meanwhile, sold out months ahead of when it typically would, with 67,000 combi-tickets and four lots of 21,000 one-day tickets flying off the shelf by the beginning of February.

Elsewhere in LN Belgium’s stable of events, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel was expanded from 50,000 capacity to 52,000 after most tickets sold out in early November.

Top promoters and ticketing firms including DEAG, Dice, Event Genius and The Ticket Factory have all confirmed the pent-up demand for events, saying that current ticket sales are even higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“Such is the demand for events and experiences – both domestically and abroad – event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their domestic and international event trips than even pre-Covid levels,” Event Genius’s CEO Benjamin Leaver told IQ.

Further evidencing a bumper festival season to come, an unprecedented number of new festivals are launching this year.

Promoters including FKP Scorpio, Goodlive, AEG, Goldenvoice and Live Nation have all added to their stable of festivals, as most prepare for their busiest festival season on record.

 


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Belgium’s Rock Werchter Encore called off

Belgium’s Rock Werchter Encore has been called off just one month after it was announced due to “high production costs, staff shortages, and low consumer confidence”.

The 25,000-capacity one-off festival was due to take place on 26 June at Werchter’s Festivalpark, a few days ahead of its parent festival Rock Werchter.

“The desire to experience festivals in all their glory again after two years of silence is great,” says Herman Schueremans, who promotes the festival alongside Live Nation Belgium.

“But there are a few dampers on the revelry. Consumer confidence is lost, the live entertainment sector is struggling with staff shortages, production costs are skyrocketing.”

The bill of acts that would have performed at Rock Werchter Encore has been integrated into sister festival TW Classic, which takes place on 25 June.

“Consumer confidence is lost, the sector is struggling with staff shortages, production costs are skyrocketing”

Florence + the Machine, The Kid Laroi, The Specials, Zwangere Guy, Intergalactic Lovers, Sky Ferreira, Noordkaap (just added!), AG Club and Sylvie Kreusch are among the acts that have joined the TW Classic bill.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Placebo, The Smile, Courtney Barnett, Sleaford Mods and Whispering Sons have already been announced for the festival.

“We are very happy that we can bring Florence + the Machine to the Festival Park, together with a large part of the other artists who would be on Rock Wechter Encore. TW Classic is selling very well. However, partly due to the addition of the two tents, there is still sufficient ticket capacity to combine both day festivals. It’s going to be fantastic.”

Tickets for Rock Werchter Encore be accepted for entry to TW Classic. Rock Werchter Encore ticketholders unable to attend can request a refund.

Alongside TW Classic, Schueremans and Live Nation are also gearing up for the return of flagship festival Rock Werchter (cap. 88,000), which will return to the park between 30 June and 3 July with acts including Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Killers.

In addition, Rock Werchter and fellow Belgium festival Tomorrowland are bringing a new two-day festival in Brussels, called Core festival.

 


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Belgium’s Rock Werchter plans one-off day festival

The organisers of Belgium’s Rock Werchter have announced a one-off event to celebrate the return of festivals.

Rock Werchter Encore will take place on 26 June at Werchter’s Festivalpark, a few days ahead of the flagship festival.

Florence + The Machine are slated to headline the one-day event, with more acts to be announced soon.

The festival will be preceded by Werchter Boutique (19 June) featuring the likes of Stromae and Gorillaz, as well as TW Classic (25 June) with acts including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Placebo and The Smile.

“For the past two summers, things were pretty quiet at the Park, making us all the more hungry for a festival experience”

Rock Werchter (cap. 88,000), Belgium’s biggest festival, will return to the park between 30 June and 3 July with acts including Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Killers.

“For the past two summers, things were pretty quiet at the Festival Park, making us all the more hungry for a festival experience lived to the full,” says Herman Schueremans, who promotes the festival alongside Live Nation Belgium.

“This year’s Rock Werchter and Werchter Boutique are both sold out in a records time. The fans are raring to go, and so are the artists. And of course, so are we. And we want more. That’s why we are announcing this one-off extra festival day featuring a number of top artists, including the always amazing Florence + the Machine. It’s our way of giving more fans the chance to enjoy the unique Rock Werchter experience.”

Today’s news comes after Rock Werchter and fellow Belgium festival Tomorrowland announced they were partnering on a new two-day festival in Brussels, called Core festival.

 


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Schueremans on Rock Werchter’s record sell-out

Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans says that the festival’s record sell-out is a sign of things to come, as he gears up for his busiest festival summer in years.

The organisers yesterday (9 February) announced that the 2022 edition of Belgium’s biggest festival is now completely sold out – and far earlier than expected.

“We normally sell out in April or May or early June… this time we are sold on 9 February,” Schueremans tells IQ.

This year’s Rock Werchter shifted 67,000 combi-tickets and four lots of 21,000 one-day tickets, some of which were sold at the price advertised in 2020 and some at an increased rate.

“After it became clear in the autumn that costs were going to increase, we increased Rock Werchter tickets from 1 December 2021. However, we informed our fans mid-November that we had to do that due to increased production costs, so they had 2 weeks to buy at the 2020 price.”

With increased ticket prices and pent-up demand across the board, Schueremans is aware that audiences expect more from festivals this year but says that “delivering a top bill and top service is part of our DNA”.

“Our 2022 bill is again a strong one with an eclectic mix of strong headliners, midsize acts (the headliners of the future) and new acts in all genres,” he maintains.

“Delivering a top bill and top service is part of our DNA”

Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and Metallica are among the acts billed to perform at the marquee event, scheduled for 30 June to 3 July in Festivalpark, Werchter.

Rock Werchter isn’t the only festival selling well according to Schueremans, who is also the CEO of Live Nation Belgium. The promoter has also reported “excellent” ticket sales for its other Festivalpark events too.

Werchter Boutique (19 June) with Gorillaz and Stromae has sold 43,000 tickets, while TW Classic (25 June) with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Placebo and The Smile has sold 40,000 tickets. Ticket prices for both events stayed the same.

Elsewhere in LN Belgium’s stable of events, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel was expanded from 50,000 capacity to 52,000 after most tickets sold out in early November.

Capitalising further on the pent-up demand, Rock Werchter recently announced a new two-day festival in Brussels, in partnership with fellow Belgian festival behemoth Tomorrowland.

According to Schueremans, Core won’t be the only new event on their festival calendar this year: “Lots of Werchter fans are unserved. We will serve them and we will soon come up with a big surprise for them at the Werchter Park site. Will announce the headliner and part of the bill soon.”

See the full line-up for Rock Werchter 2022 below.

 


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Tomorrowland, Rock Werchter launch new fest

Belgium festival behemoths Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter have joined forces to launch a new two-day festival in Brussels.

Core festival will debut between 27–28 May this year in Osseghem Park, a picturesque nature area in the Belgian capital.

The organisers say the boutique festival will feature “a very eclectic” line-up (yet to be announced) that will “break the boundaries between quality indie, hip hop, electronica, hyper pop and alternative dance”.

The four-stage event will aim to attract 25,000 visitors per day including domestic and international festivalgoers.

Core‘s lineup will be revealed soon and the presale for tickets (which start at €67 for one-day admission) will start on 23 February.

“Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter have been working together on several smaller events i.e. the Garden of Madness shows by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike at the Antwerp Sportpaleis, the KNTXT event in Ghent, Swedish House Mafia at the Antwerp Sportpaleis,” Rock Werchter’s Yo Van Saet tells IQ.

“Our ideas are mostly complementary, the ambition of both our teams are high and like-minded. And so there was this new idea, becoming now a brand-new event. We are uniting to create this original and refreshing festival in one of Brussels’ most beautiful green parks. Expertise and knowledge are shared. Our teams are working together closely on this new festival, with great passion. It’s new, it’s fresh. It’s nothing like Rock Werchter, nor Tomorrowland.”

“Two of the most important players in the world of music, are coming to Brussels with this new concept”

Philippe Close, mayor of the city of Brussels, says: “We are very proud that Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter, two of the most important players in the world of music, are coming to Brussels with this new concept. A total experience of music, art and nature. Brussels celebrates and thus enables the event, cultural and hotel industry to breathe again.”

Rock Werchter (cap. 88,000), promoted by Herman Schueremans and Live Nation Belgium, is the country’s largest festival.

The marquee event is due to return between 30 June and 3 July this year for the first time since 2019.

Tomorrowland (70,000), meanwhile, will return to Boom from 22 July to 24 July and from 29 July to 31 July.

In addition to the flagship festival, Tomorrowland is also busy preparing for two weekends of Tomorrowland Winter in the Alpe d’Huez ski area between 19–26 March 2022.

The brand has had to cancel six festival weekends due to the pandemic, including four in Belgium (Tomorrowland 2020 and 2021) and two in France (Tomorrowland Winter 2020 and 2021).

 


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Friday round-up: world news in brief

Welcome to IQ‘s brand-new weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

UNITED KINGDOM:

Vince Power Music Group (VPMG) has announced AXS as its official ticketing partner for all its London venues after inking a new five-year deal. VPMG venues include: the former Dingwalls, PowerHaus (cap. 500), The Fiddler (cap. 120), Nells (cap. 350) and Subterania (cap. 600). AXS is the official ticketing partner for several UK venues including The O2, The SSE Arena, Wembley, Dreamland Margate, British Summertime Hyde Park, All Points East and AEG Presents’ touring business.

NETHERLANDS:

European showcase festival and conference Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in Groningen has moved entirely online from 19–22 January 2022 in response to the government’s the latest Covid-19 measures. The digital edition will include a conference programme as well as the festival programmes of Noorderslag, Eurosonic and the Music Moves Europe Awards award ceremony.

UNITED STATES: 

Foo Fighters say they have axed a 2022 tour date due to the venue’s “refusal to agree to the band’s Covid safety measures”. The band were due to play Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on 3 August, but are now looking for a replacement venue. A spokesperson for the University of Minnesota, which operates the venue, said its current measures relating to vaccines and mask-wearing were in line with state and federal guidelines, and declined to change its existing protocols for large events.

GERMANY:

CTS Eventim is acquiring regional ticketing providers in the Rhineland region, Kölnticket and Bonnticket. The companies previously belonged to media houses Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Medien in Cologne and Rheinische Post Mediengruppe in Düsseldorf, and had previously partnered with CTS on ticketing software and platform technology. The deal will give CTS Eventim a significant presence in the region as well as numerous contacts in the local entertainment scene.

UK/US:

The British Music Embassy has announced its live return to South By Southwest (SXSW) with its biggest presence yet. The intimate 250-person UK music showcase will return in 2022 with a capacity of 700 at Cedar Street Courtyard, an open-air SXSW venue, from 14-20 March. It will be the first in-person British Music Embassy since 2019 as the 2020 edition of SXSW was one of the first major festivals to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

GERMANY:

The ASM Global-managed, Arena Oberhausen in Germany is to be renamed after 20 years as the Konig Pilsener Arena. From next year, the 12,650-capacity venue will be known as Rudolf Weber Arena, in the largest naming rights deal in the Oberhausen-based venue’s 25-year history.

BELGIUM:

Five more names have been confirmed for Rock Werchter 2022. The War On Drugs will play the Festivalpark on Thursday 30 June. Lewis Capaldi and Greta Van Fleet join the line-up for Friday 1 July, Yungblud is scheduled for Saturday July 2 and Royal Blood will put in an appearance on Sunday 3 July. Headlined by Pearl Jam, Metallica, Imagine Dragons and Red Hot Chili Pepper, the festival runs from 30 June to 2 July.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Two internet ticket touts sentenced to a combined six-and-a-half years in prison following a landmark court case have failed in their appeals against their conviction for fraudulent trading. Peter Hunter and David Smith, who operated as the company BZZ Limited, were jailed for four years and 30 months, respectively, in February 2020 following an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, and trail at Leeds Crown Court. The pair committed offences between May 2010 and December 2017, making a net profit of £3.5 million in the last two years of fraud alone, buying and reselling tickets to concerts by artists including Ed Sheeran, McBusted, Taylor Swift and Coldplay. On the appeal Smith and Hunter raised a large number of legal and procedural grounds. They appealed the verdict, alleging the judge wrongly directed the jury on the law and “acted unfairly and prejudicially in his conduct of the trial”, arguing the restrictions attaching to the sale of the tickets were “void and invalid”. However, the Court of Appeal rejects their appeals, upholding the conclusion of the judge at trial that the restrictions imposed by event organisers were valid, adding the judge “acted properly in all relevant respects and that the convictions are safe and lawful”.

IRELAND:

Irish-headquartered Tixserve has partnered with UK ticket agency Gigantic to provide a “secure and interactive digital ticket fulfilment service” for its live entertainment ticketing. The partnership will see Irish-Headquartered Tixserve provide Gigantic with a white label digital ticketing app – delivering via a full API technical integration, a sophisticated and seamless fulfilment service for Gigantic clients and customers.

UNITED KINGDOM:

International booking agency Midnight Mango has announced four new agents – Nigel Morton, Addison Paterson, Sam Bryant and Hanna Bright – after initiating an Agent Freelancer Platform in the early days of the pandemic. After delivering training and guidance to four agents back in the spring, the firm took on a further four new agents in September. The new appointments work with acts such as Gretchen Peters, Bicurious, Dom Martin and The Kakatsitsi Master Drummers, expanding the agency’s roster to more than 150 artists, represented by a 15-strong workforce.

 


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Rock Werchter announces alternative event

Belgium’s Rock Werchter has announced a smaller stand-in event for the flagship festival which was cancelled in March.

The concert series, dubbed Werchter Parklife, is set to run for four days a week between 1 July and 1 August 2021 in a temporary open-air arena at the Werchter festival site.

Already confirmed for Werchter Parklife are Balthazar (1 July), Goose (2 July), Arsenal and Tin Fingers (3 July), Lil Kleine and Ronnie Flex & The Fam (4 July, afternoon), Black Box Revelation and Equal Idiots (4 July, evening).

Up to 2,500 fans will be permitted to attend each concert, divided into 625 safe bubbles of four people. Tickets for Werchter Parklife went on sale this morning (18 May) in batches of four.

Up to 2,500 fans will be permitted to attend each [Werchter Parklife] concert, divided into 625 safe bubbles of four people

Rock Werchter (cap. 88,000), promoted by Herman Schueremans and Live Nation Belgium, will “be back in full swing in 2022, from 30 June to 3 July” after two years off.

The festival last took place in 2019, welcoming more than 160,000 people for its 45th-anniversary event with Pink, Tool, Muse, the Cure, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons and more.

Belgian festivals including Graspop, Suikerrock, Couleur Cafe, Gent Jazz and Dour have also been called off, while Pukkelpop and Tomorrowland are still on at the time of writing.

 


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Belgium’s Rock Werchter called off again

Rock Werchter, one of Belgium’s biggest and most important music festivals, will take another year off this summer, organisers have announced.

The 88,000-capacity festival, promoted by Herman Schueremans and Live Nation Belgium, will “be back in full swing in 2022, from 30 June to 3 July”, reads an announcement. Rock Werchter last took place in 2019, welcoming more than 160,000 people for its 45th-anniversary event with Pink, Tool, Muse, the Cure, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons and more.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and in recent months we have been talking to governments, experts and colleagues in here and elsewhere about how festivals could take place,” the festival says in a statement. “With the great momentum on vaccine roll-out we had hoped that it might be possible; however, we have come to the reluctant conclusion that given current restrictions we simply cannot prepare for a 2021 festival in the normal way. We want every fan and artist to enjoy the festival to the fullest, and with the current situation we could not achieve this.

“While we know that this is the right decision, we also know that this decision affects many: our employees, the technical crew, suppliers, artists and their entourages, all the local associations and their volunteers, and, of course, the fans. Our sector has been on hold for a whole year now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the dark times are not over, even with the cautious restart happening soon. The once-thriving live music industry needs government support.”

“We are currently working out what will be possible with the anticipated restrictions in place”

IQ reported yesterday that the prime minister of Flanders, the Belgian province that contains the village of Werchter, is waiting until the end of April to make a decision on whether large-scale music events will be allowed to go ahead this summer. At press time, preparations for other major Flemish festivals, including Tomorrowland and Pukkelpop, are still ongoing.

“We have a special word of thanks for the fans and friends of the festival: they Rock Werchter,” continues the announcement. “Every time. Over and over again. They kept hoping during the dark days, showed understanding over the uncertain situation, and gave support to each other and to us. We cannot thank them enough. We look forward to making great memories together again in the future.”

As in 2020, when 36 performances were held in aid of industry charity Live 2020, a smaller, potentially socially distanced, event will take place at the Werchter festival site in lieu of the festival proper.

“We are eager to bring back live music to the Festivalpark this summer in any way we can and are currently working out what will be possible with the anticipated restrictions in place,” it concludes. “As soon as the right and best formula is determined, we will come back to you. It won’t be Rock Werchter, but you can rest assured that we will sing, dance and celebrate together again this summer.”

Ticket holders for Rock Werchter 2020 and ’21 can hold on to their tickets for 2022 or request a refund from Ticketmaster.

 


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