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Slipknot’s Knotfest to make UK debut

Knotfest, the festival brand created by metal legends Slipknot, is launching in the UK for the first time next year.

The Live Nation-promoted Knotfest UK, which will take place on 22 August 2020 at the 65,000-capacity National Bowl in Milton Keynes, around 80 kilometres northwest of London, is the second European edition of the festival, adding to Knotfest Meets Hellfest which debuted last summer in France.

Slipknot will headline the festival, in their first return to the National Bowl since their performance at Ozzfest in 2001. Full line-up details and onsite activities will be announced in early 2020.

Since launching in 2012, Knotfest has expanded into six countries

Since launching in 2012, Knotfest has expanded into six countries, with events in the USA Colombia, Mexico and Japan, as well as France and, now, the UK. The inaugural cruise-based Slipknot at Sea is set to take place in conjunction with music cruise specialist Sixthman in August 2020.

Prior to Knotfest UK, Slipknot will be embarking on a European arena tour in January, with appearances at London’s O2 Arena (20,000-cap.), Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome (17,000-cap.), the Accorhotels Arena (20,300-cap.) in Paris, Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena (17,000-cap.) and Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe (16,000-cap.), among others.

Members of Slipknot’s official fan club, Outside The 9, will have access to a pre-sale on 19 December at 10 a.m. GMT. Fans can join and get their passcode here.

Picture: © Наиль Якупов/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 


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Slipknot announce inaugural Knotfest at Sea

Knotfest, Slipknot’s multi-event metal festival brand, has announced Knotfest at Sea, its first-ever music cruise.

Due to set sail from Barcelona on 10 August 2020, and returning on 14 August, Knotfest at Sea joins existing Knotfest events in the US, Mexico, Japan, Colombia and, most recently, France, where the inaugural Knotfest Meets Hellfest event debuted this summer.

The floating festival, which will take place on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ 2,400-capacity Norwegian Jade, will feature two performances by Slipknot, alongside yet-to-be announced special guests.

A trailer featuring Clown, percussion for the metal superstars, can be viewed above.

Knotfest is produced by Sixthman, whose CEO, Anthony Diaz, spoke to IQ recently about the growth of music cruises, especially in Europe. “In the US [floating festivals are] a very common format, and agencies know the value they add to their artists,” he explained. “In Europe, when we started speaking to agents and managers two years ago, it was so new, but now that we’ve done a few, the conversation has changed – they just needed to see it for themselves.”

Rock the Boat: How floating festivals are ruling the waves

Other heavy metal cruises include 70,000 Tons of Metal and Wacken’s Full Metal Cruise.

 


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Rock the Boat: How floating festivals are ruling the waves

As IFF 2019 delegates heard in September, it’s been a mixed bag of a year for traditional music festivals, with many events struggling to repeat the highs of 2018 amid rising costs and increased difficulty booking talent.

Early indications from festival association Yourope suggest the market is “slightly down,” revealed Mikołaj Ziółkowski of Poland’s Open’er Festival, while FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt warned: “We’re steering into a dead-end street. We can’t raise ticket prices any more or we lose people.”

Even against this challenging backdrop, however, many events are going from strength to strength – especially those that have developed a strong identity and loyal fan base allowing them to sell tickets even when the vagaries of the touring cycle reduce the pool of available headliners.

But what if – instead of trying to compete with all those other events on land – festival operators took en masse to the water, putting on parties for an army of adventurous Captain Nemo types seeking adventure on the high seas?

As it turns out, a small but growing group of promoters are doing just that, and “it’s not a difficult sell,” says Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman, the US-based granddaddy of music cruise operators, which made its mark in Europe this summer with festivals including Belle and Sebastian’s Boaty Weekender (a co-pro with AEG Presents) and the European debut of Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea.

“In the US music cruises are a very common format, and agencies know the value they add to their artists”

Star aboard
“It’s getting easier every day,” Diaz explains. “In the US [floating festivals are] a very common format, and agencies know the value they add to their artists. In Europe, when we started speaking to agents and managers two years ago, it was so new, but now that we’ve done a few, the conversation has changed – they just needed to see it for themselves.”

The appeal, says Iqbal Ameer, CEO of Singapore-based Livescape Group, which operates It’s the Ship (‘Asia’s largest festival at sea’), is that “unlike a landed festival, festivalgoers are able to enjoy various luxuries, such as comfortable cabins just steps away from the stages, 24-hour dining that serves warm food throughout the day and various ship facilities that add convenience to their festival experience, allowing them to focus fully on enjoying their time on board.

“Festivalgoers don’t have to worry about long lines for the restrooms, muddy grounds or having to drive back home. Shipmates can also choose to take naps in between sets and wake up at 3am to continue partying until sunrise.”

Jonathan Blackburn, whose UK-based Floating Festivals company is behind cruises such as ’80s festival Throwback and musical theatre event Stages, says he came across the music cruise model while supplying entertainers for events sailing out of Florida. “I was in and out of various offices in Miami and became aware of how popular themed cruising is in the US,” he explains, and was inspired to launch something similar in Europe.

“If you look at what kind of cruises there are now, there’s everything from music cruises to gay cruises to Bible cruises…”

Buoy bands
Although a “steep learning curve”, Floating Festivals has enjoyed steady growth over the past two years, buoyed by the increasing popularity of both floating festivals and cruises in general.

“The worldwide cruise market is increasing, too,” says Wolfgang Rott, head of press and marketing for leading metal cruise 70,000 Tons of Metal. “If you look at what kind of cruises there are now, there’s everything from music cruises to gay cruises to Bible cruises…”

Broadly speaking, Diaz says, music cruises can be divided into two models: the ‘host’ model, like Sixthman’s successful events with Kiss (the Kiss Kruise), Paramore (Parahoy!) and Kesha (Kesha’s Weird and Wonderful Rainbow Ride), and the ‘festival’ model, “not unlike Coachella or Glastonbury,” which feature upwards of 20 different artists.

With both formats, the majority of artists stay on the ship for the duration of the cruise, Diaz adds: for ‘festivals’ the figure is around 90%, while hosted events edge closer to 100%, with the recent Runaway to Paradise with Jon Bon Jovi cruise the sole outlier so far. “We experimented a bit with Jon,” he explains. “He’d come on and off and do signings, photos, play an acoustic set here and there, but he’d stay in a hotel in the Bahamas. It went well, but it doesn’t change our core model: bringing fans and bands together.”

“These aren’t standard cruises. These are three- or four-night party experiences”

Motley cruise
Also bringing fans and artists together is 70,000 Tons of Metal, a heavy metal cruise that sails from Florida to a Caribbean destination every January. Performers such as Cradle of Filth, Sabaton, Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, Meshuggah and Children of Bodom mingle with guests to an extent not seen on other cruises, according to Rott.

“You don’t have any backstage areas – everybody is just a regular customer,” he explains. “So you could go into the breakfast restaurant in the morning and see the guys from Nightwish or Testament, or in the evening see Fear Factory singing Abba on the karaoke… Once fans realise the artists aren’t going away – that they’re going to be on board the whole time and you can sit next to them in the bar or the jacuzzi, or play beer pong together – it takes away the pressure from the exchange. It’s a totally unique experience, and something you don’t really get at a landed festival.”

“These aren’t standard cruises,” continues Blackburn. “These are three- or four-night party experiences. You get all the advantages of being on a cruise but it’s a completely different experience, a really immersive one: you might walk into a lift and there’ll be a pianist in there playing your favourite song, or someone singing karaoke. We want people to go home with memories they’ll keep for a lifetime.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 86, or subscribe to the magazine here.


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Experience economy fuels resort festival rise

For decades, grassy and often muddy fields have been the setting for music festivals worldwide, but as the overall festival experience has crept ever higher on fans’ priority lists, different kinds of sites have begun to catch the eye of festival organisers.

From snowy slopes to golden sands, resorts offer the unique selling point and quality infrastructure desired by organisers, as well as appealing to the experiential tendencies of the millennial festivalgoer.

“People’s tastes have changed,” Gareth Cooper, CEO of Broadwick Live and director of Snowbombing festival tells IQ, adding that people in general “have more disposable income” and often view a festival as a “second holiday” nowadays.

Starting 21 years ago as an après-ski party, Snowbombing has evolved into a week-long live music event. The line-up for Snowbombing 2020, taking place from 13 to 18 April, includes Liam Gallagher, the Streets, Foals and Big Narstie.

Mainstage Festivals-promoted Snowboxx (6,000-cap.) also takes its inspiration from the traditional partying aspect of ski holidays.

“We all know that après is the real reason why people go skiing,” says Mainstage marketing manager Juan Lopez. “Sipping a cold one after a day on the slopes is the perfect way to unwind, but there is not much to do on the mountain after that.”

“People’s tastes have changed and they have more disposable income”

To counter that, Snowboxx has brought artists such as Basement Jaxx, Wilkinson and Craig David’s TS5 to Avoriaz in France for the past seven years, alongside a “jam-packed schedule of off-piste activities”. Acts confirmed for the 2020 edition, taking place from 21 to 18 March, include Andy C, Annie Mac, the Sugarhill Gang and Denis Sulta.

Anthony Diaz, CEO of cruise festival specialist Sixthman, agrees that the idea of a combined holiday and music festival is really “resonating” with fans.

In addition to its many “floating festivals”, Sixthman has recently experimented with seaside resort festivals, launching Kid Rock’s Flying High Island Jam and All the Best presented by John Prine at boutique resorts in the Dominican Republic, with further plans to replicate the model in European resorts.

“People are choosing to invest more and more in experiences, rather than in material things, including in immersive music experiences and in vacations,” Diaz tells IQ. “The combination of being on vacation with your musical heroes and with others that share that same passion, it’s unbeatable.”

Fans have also shown an eagerness to travel to new places for festivals in recent years, a fact that the Mainstage Festivals team is well aware of. The idea behind the promoter’s Kala festival, which takes place in Dhërmi, a beach resort on the Albanian Riviera, is to introduce festivalgoers to a holiday location they are unlikely to have visited before.

“The Kala crowd is looking for new experiences and new adventures, so somewhere as beautiful and off the beaten path as Albania ticks all the boxes for them,” says Lopez, who refers to Albania as “Europe’s best kept secret”.

“The combination of being on vacation with your musical heroes and with others that share that same passion, it’s unbeatable”

Since Kala started in 2017, there has been a 27% increase in foreign tourists to Albania and, although the event organisers cannot take “full credit” for that, Kala is now the “flagship event” for Albania. “It’s the country’s first and biggest overseas festival and we look forward to growing along with the broader tourism industry over there,” says Mainstage CEO Rob Tominey.

For the Mainstage boss, cooperation with tourist boards is an integral aspect to overseas festivals, “not only to promote the festivals, but also to showcase the local culture.”

Broadwick’s Snowbombing, which has taken place every April at Austria’s Mayrhofen ski resort since 2006, also collaborates closely with local tourism boards and tour operators, as well as the resort’s management.

“We turn what would traditionally be the quietest week of the season into one of the busiest,” explains Cooper. “It’s an end-of-season boost for the local economy and brings very good clientele to the resort – the kind who come to socialise and make use of bars and restaurants.”

However, a festival in a resort, by its very nature, costs more for the fan. Accommodation for five nights at Snowbombing is priced between £269 and £1,500, in addition to equipment hire, ski pass and transport to and from the festival.

“We could go cheaper and use a resort in France,” admits Cooper, but “that’s not the quality we’re looking for.”

It seems that cheap and cheerful is not what Snowbombing attendees are after either, with four-star hotels, complete with swimming pools and spas, proving the most popular accommodation choice.

“When you have the right destination, people just want to go”

Quality is key for Sixthman’s event too. Guests can choose between different suites at the resort, with all concerts, meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks included in the price, as well as unlimited use of the resort’s swimming pools and beaches.

Despite high-end prices, Sixthman does not attempt to tier pricing or up-sell fans with VIP packages or events. “All our guests are VIP,” says Diaz, which helps foment a “positive”, community-like feeling among fans.

Yet, for Mainstage, cheaper prices are one of the draws of its destination-based events.

“There are a number of benefits to attending a festival abroad vs in the UK,” says Tominey. “The costs can often be more favourable with cheaper ticket prices as well as cheaper costs while there.

Even at Snowboxx, the Mainstage team tries to keep the price low, “steering clear of all-inclusive deals” and negotiating with hotels.

“We’ve seen in the past how accommodation and transfer prices have spiked around destination festivals, after a few years of them being in the location,” says Tominey. The Snowboxx team offers seven-day accommodation and festival wristband packages for between £254 (three star) and £442 (five star).

The most important aspect of this new kind of festival, however, remains the same for all. As Cooper puts it: “When you have the right destination, people just want to go.”

 


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