Playing the field: Ten new festivals for 2023
Fresh from 2022’s massive bounceback for the live business, it’s no surprise that this year is seeing a wealth of new arrivals on the international festival scene. Here, IQ previews ten of those inaugural events to learn what unique traits each has to lure consumers to buy tickets, and why their creators have decided that now is the right time to open the gates in what many consider to be an already over-saturated marketplace.
Where: Brockwell Park, London, UK
When: 26 May 2023
Headliners: Ghetts, Shy Fx: Specials, and Fabio & Grooverider and The Outlook Orchestra
“Project 6 Festival combines everything we love, from our experience of running festivals to our love of London’s incredible clubbing scene, offering something outside the box from the traditional daytime festival model, with the addition of ten night-time sessions across some of the city’s best-loved dancefloors,” explains James Rice, one of the principals at event promoters Outlook.
“At the tail end of 2022, we were invited to become part of south London’s Brockwell Live series and jumped at the chance to bring what we do across Outlook, Undivide, Free From Sleep, and our other events and projects to our hometown and the city and scenes that we cherish.”
In addition to the headliners, attendees can expect live performances from the likes of Mala and Joe Armon-Jones and their new full live band, as well as Ojerime, FLOHIO, Lex Amor, Dréya Mac, and many more, alongside some of the scene’s biggest and brightest DJs and MCs.
PRIMAVERA SOUND MADRID
Where: Ciudad de Rock, Arganda del Rey, Madrid, Spain
When: 5-11 June 2023
Headliners: Pet Shop Boys, Blur, Halsey, New Order, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, Rosalía, and Calvin Harris
Organised as a mirror event to Primavera Sound in Barcelona, which takes place the previous week, the inaugural Madrid edition will take place just outside the Spanish capital on a site that was purpose-built to host Rock in Rio Madrid back in 2008. The complex can cater for up to 96,000 visitors.
In parallel with its sister events in Barcelona (29 May-4 June) and Por- to (7-10 June), the new festival allows organisers to offer artists and their agents multiple dates, rather than just one, helping bookers attract world-class acts. And as with those festivals, Primavera Sound Madrid will operate a gender-balanced policy for its line-up.
“It’s different from Barcelona because we have lots of local people living not only in Madrid but also from southern and eastern Spain that are coming, as well as lots of international people,” says festival director Almudena Heredero. “We are working together with a number of institutions and authorities in Madrid to make this a success, as everyone is determined that the city should have a festival like Primavera Sound here for the long term. Through Madrid’s venue association, we have organised concerts in the lead-up to the festival, as we do in Barcelona, and we have a year-round programme to imprint the Primavera brand on the cultural life of Madrid and not just for the days of the festival,” she adds.
Where: Bernexpo, Bern, Switzerland
When: 21-22 July 2023
Headliners: RIN and Alligatoah
German and Swiss rap music will have a brand-new platform this summer at the inaugural Spex Festival taking place in the Swiss capital. Joining the headliners are Ufo361, Yung Hurn, Kool Savas, SSIO, Stereo Luchs, Nura, and many more hip-hop acts with organisers Gadget abc Entertainment pricing tickets low to attract a younger audience and maybe even first-time festivalgoers.
In addition to 26 acts across two stages, Gadget is programming various activities in the areas of sports, lifestyle, and fashion, with the hope that around 10,000 people per day will attend, although the flexibility of the Bernexpo site could allow that number to increase.
“We have been planning Spex for about 18 months, as hip-hop is a growing market in Switzerland,” says promoter Christof Huber. “Other festivals target international acts, but German language acts are becoming more popular here, so we wanted to support them while delivering something that younger fans can relate to and enjoy.”
Where: Bedrock Douglass, Detroit, USA
When: 19–20 August 2023
The successful Afro Nation brand has already made headlines in Ghana, Portugal, and Puerto Rico, and makes its US debut in Florida in late May, but the expansion into Detroit will truly be a historic move. “When considering which US cities would be right for our Afro Nation festival, Detroit was a clear choice,” says Natasha Manley, CEO of promoters Event Horizon.
“The musical legacy, culture, people and community of Detroit connects to why we started Afro Nation: to celebrate Black music and culture. Our diverse global audience will undoubtedly enjoy the unique Detroit show and appreciate the immense influence of Detroit on the evolution of music.”
The brand is bringing the likes of Burna Boy and Wizkid to Miami’s LoanDepot, while the line-up for Detroit – on the site of the city’s Bedrock Douglass Projects which Motown legends like Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson once called home – is still to be announced.
WOODSTOCK MUSIC AND ART FAIR
Where: Hantangang River Geopark, Pocheon, South Korea
When: 28-30 July 2023
Headliners: Loudness, Dynamic Duo, Boohwal, No Brain, 6band, Kim Do-kyun, Insooni, Kim Kyung-ho, and Kim Wan-sun
Having received permission to organise the first-ever incarnation of Woodstock to be held outside of the United States, Korean music business giant SGC Entertainment has, so far, announced an eclectic mix of hip-hop, rock, and pop stars for this new summer gathering.
The event’s main headliner, Japanese metal outfit Loudness, were the first Asian heavy rock band to enter the Billboard 200 charts, and enjoy a very strong following in Korea. With the themes of “freedom, peace, and love,” the festival has been created to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement, which was signed on 27 July 1953, bringing about an end to the Korean War. Organisers says more acts will be announced closer to the festival date.
Where: Porto Montenegro, Tivat, Montenegro
When: 28-30 July 2023
Headliners: DJ Damian Lazarus, Morcheeba, John Malkovich, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Taking place in the Bay of Kotor in the Adriatic Riviera, Rubix Festival aims to immerse around 8,000 festivalgoers in a creative world of fulfilment and self-expression, with music, art, cinema, and technology all forming part of the performances, masterclasses, workshops, and exhibitions on offer.
Set against the stunning waterfront backdrop of the vibrant nautical village and state-of-the-art superyacht marina, Porto Montenegro, the event will see attendees participate in everything from wine tasting to chefs’ tables, 3D printing masterclasses to body painting, and street art exhibitions to sculpture.
“Rubix is the ultimate fusion of entertainment, immersing festival goers in a unique creative world, and we’re thrilled to bring an event of this scope to the region for the first time,” says Danilo Kalezic, senior manager at Porto Montenegro. “Immerse yourself in electric drama, captivating art exhibitions, engaging workshops, and a cinema corner that will transport you to another world. Get ready to discover your true self, express your creativity, and indulge in unforgettable feasts and magical moments.”
ROCK N ROLL CIRCUS
Where: Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield, UK
When: 1-3 September 2023
Headliners: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Happy Mondays, Self Esteem, and Confidence Man
Utilising local star Rebecca Lucy Taylor, aka Self Esteem, to curate this new festival in her native Yorkshire, AGN Events is looking forward to welcoming around 7,500 fans per day to this three-day event.
“Sheffield has such a strong tradition for live music, so we are really excited to be hosting our touring concept there,” says AGN Events director Ali O’Reilly. “There is nothing like it in the market – watching your favourite artists alongside incredible fire performers, aerialists, contortionists, and much more – the show is bringing a new dimension to the concert experience.”
Self Esteem’s appearance at the festival will reportedly mark the end of her I Tour This All The Time run of dates, which began in February this year to celebrate her smash-hit second album, Prioritise Pleasure. “Sheffield. I just had to come back one more time before I fully commit to writing again,” Taylor said of the new festival. “I’ve also curated my actual dream line-up to join me. I am genuinely deeply excited.”
Where: Empire Polo Club, Indio, California, USA
When: 6-8 October 2023
Headliners: Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, and Tool
Seen as something of a follow-up to 2018’s record-breaking Desert Trip, Power Trip gathers some of hard rock’s most legendary acts for a weekend of headbanging on the same site as festival darling Coachella and country music stalwart Stagecoach.
The new festival comes two years after promoter Goldenvoice signed a long-term agreement with the Empire Polo Club to use the location for additional festivals. While Power Trip has yet to provoke the same scramble for tickets that saw Desert Trip’s line-up of Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Who, and Roger Waters programming a repeat weekend, hotel packages and VIP passes are reportedly selling well, despite general admission passes being set at $599 + fees. Pit VIP packages, meanwhile, are priced at $3,448 including fees.
When it took place in 2016, each Desert Trip weekend accommodated over 70,000 fans.
Where: Interlagos Racetrack, São Paulo, Brazil
When: 2, 3, 7, 9, 10 September 2023
Headliners: Post Malone, Maroon 5, Foo Fighters, and Bruno Mars (for two dates)
From the creators of Rock in Rio, The Town will debut in Brazil’s biggest city, where an estimated audience of 500,000 will attend five days of shows in an area of the city’s Interlagos Racetrack that is being completely renovated for the occasion. Construction teams are creating a sewage system to negate the need for chemical toilets, while synthetic grass is being installed to prevent mud in the case of rain. The reforms will also integrate under- ground pipes so the festival can run electricity cables.
The new festival is being touted as São Paulo’s answer to Rock in Rio, with organisers programming more than 235 hours of performances in the City of Music, which will host six stages. According to a survey by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, an economic impact of more than $260m is expected, in addition to generating more than 19,000 direct jobs.
“I love Brazil intensely,” says promoter Roberto Medina. “And, just like Rock in Rio, The Town was born from this passion for our land, from the amplification of looking at new opportunities, and from the desire that the pandemic brought me in these months of confinement to bring something new. It will be surprising. The entire concept was conceived based on an inspiring and cosmopolitan São Paulo, in addition to being ready to host an event of this magnitude.”
COUNTRY BAY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Where: Miami Marine Stadium, Florida, USA
When: 11-12 November 2023
Headliners: Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt, Chris Young, Lee Brice, and Lainey Wilson
“South Florida is a [high in demand] entertainment destination, which currently doesn’t have any country music festivals,” states promoter Nelson Albareda, CEO of Loud And Live. “If you couple that with the fact that country music has a big and loyal following amongst Hispanics, we saw it as a big opportunity in the market, both within the music genre and geographically, to produce Miami’s first two-day country music festival.”
Noting that Miami has become a global entertainment destination hosting major music events like Rolling Loud and Ultra Music Festival to global sporting events like Formula 1 and the next football World Cup, Albareda adds, “Our goal is to create a memorable experience for music fans and our partner sponsors alike and ultimately establish Miami as a destination for country music enthusiasts from around the world.”
Miami Marine Stadium has a rich country music history, including iconic shows by the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Rogers, giving Loud And Live the confidence to set a daily capacity of 25,000 for its inaugural Country Bay Music Festival. “With the incredible line-up of top country music artists and a picturesque waterfront venue, this music festival will be like no other,” Albareda enthuses.
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