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Live Nation, Roskilde and more plan test project

A number of major players in Denmark’s live music industry are organising a test project to gather knowledge and evidence on how major events can take place safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The partners behind the project include Live Nation Denmark, Dansk Live (Denmark’s live music association) and major Danish festivals such as Roskilde, NorthSide, Tinderbox and Smukfest, as well as organisations outside of the sector.

The project, dubbed Safe 2.0, will take place in late summer and autumn with an aim to find out:

Safe 2.0, funded by the ‘Restart’ team for culture and sport, will use a similar model to the one used during a test series of football matches earlier this year.

All attendees were required to show proof of a negative antigen test in order to gain entry to the 3F Superliga competitions, organised by the Divisional Association.

“The hope was initially that we could secure knowledge that could ensure a faster reopening for the benefit of festivals”

Organisers say Safe 2.0 will implement Denmark’s vaccine passport (Coronapas) as soon as it becomes available in autumn.

“Safe was originally developed together with the Divisional Association in the autumn of 2020, but we are now at version 2.0 of the project, where the focus is on cultural activities,” says Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher.

“The hope was initially that we could secure knowledge that could ensure a faster reopening for the benefit of festivals and venues. Even if it did not succeed, we are happy to be able to start the project now and secure knowledge that can prove crucial in the future.”

Safe 2.0 comes too late for the raft of festivals that were called off in May due to government restrictions.

Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May) were cancelled this year.

Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) were also called off.

 


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Danish festival giants join forces for comeback event

Live Nation has teamed up with nine of Denmark’s biggest festivals – Roskilde Festival, NorthSide, Heartland, Copenhell, Smukfest, Tinderbox, Jelling Musikfestival, Nibe Festival and Grøn – for a one-off event that will mark the reopening of the country.

‘Back to Live’ will take place at Refshaleøen, a former industrial site in the harbour of Copenhagen, on Saturday 4 September – days after the country’s current Covid-19 restrictions are due to be lifted, allowing large events to take place.

According to the organisers, the concert will also serve as an opportunity for the festivals involved to “gain experience and collect empirical data on Covid initiatives” in relation to organising large live events.

“Two years without festivals have been hard for the entire music industry and both the audience, artists and organisers need to feel the community,” reads a statement from the organisers.

“The crisis has also strengthened the dialogue and cooperation between the festivals”

“At the same time, the crisis has also strengthened the dialogue and cooperation between the festivals and revealed a pronounced need to focus on the importance of live concerts and their significance for community and unity in society.”

The one-day outdoor concert will kick off at 2:00 pm (CET), hosting performances from “some of Denmark’s biggest names in rock and hip hop” including Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Dad, Suspekt, Tessa and more to be announced.

Tickets for Back to Live are on sale now for DKK 545 (€73).

Currently, in Denmark, 10,000 people are allowed at “public events”, thanks to the country’s Covid-19 ‘passport’, Coronapas, which certifies that the bearer has either tested negative for the coronavirus or is immune/vaccinated.

The government recently clarified the restrictions from August onwards but the news came too late for Denmark’s major music festivals, which cancelled en masse last month citing a lack of information.

However, a number of the festivals – Roskilde, Nibe and Smukfest – have planned alternative events this summer.

 


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Denmark’s festival season wiped out due to restrictions

Denmark’s festival season has been decimated for the second consecutive year after the government announced that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.

The announcement came last night (3 May) and was followed this morning by a raft of festival cancellations including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May).

Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) have also been called off.

The government’s reopening agreement states that 2,000-capacity events are permitted, provided attendees are divided into sections with a maximum of 200 people in each.

“It is a day of mourning”

After 1 August, the capacity limit will be raised to 5,000 with sections of up to 500 attendees. Events with 10,000 attendees will not take place until it is ‘assessed as sound from a health point of view’.

The agreement comes after the government’s expert advisory group warned that festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, which cast serious doubt over the viability of Denmark’s 2021 festival season.

The organisers of Roskilde, which typically gathers 130,000 people each year, say its enforced cancellation is not surprising.

“We are devastated by the fact that we can’t get together at our festival and contribute to recreating the communities that the corona crisis has destroyed for so many,” says a statement on the festival’s website.

“The cancellation is very serious for the festival, for the charity society behind it and for our community. And it is serious for the artistic environments and the growth segments of culture.”

“We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already”

Esben Marcher, head of Danish live music association Dansk Live, dubbed the government’s plan an “over-cautious reopening that does not leave much hope for the festivals”. “It’s a day of mourning,” he added.

Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, believes that government acted hastily: “We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already, as we believe that it is too early to make such decisive decisions on the basis of conjecture about what the situation will look like in three months’ time and what can and cannot be done at that time.”

The reopening agreement has effectively rendered Denmark’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net redundant for the organisers of festivals and major events.

Announced in March, the safety net was designed to cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants, taking place between 1 May and 30 September 2021, in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.

 


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Danish experts advise against 10k+ festivals

Danish festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, according to the government’s advisory expert group.

The working group – which comprises cultural institutions such as Roskilde Festival – has submitted a 54-page document of recommendations on how events should be able to take place this summer.

In the report, the experts recommend that no more than 10,000 guests attend a festival but only once Denmark has reached the final stage of the restrictions.

According to the group, major events of this capacity should only take place in ‘phase 2’ – when all citizens over the age of 50 have been offered their first vaccine.

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority’s vaccine plan, which was last updated on 14 April, suggests that everyone in the over-50s age group should have received their first vaccine by the end of May.

In addition to this, all participants of a major event must have a corona pass and the event must be divided into sections with a maximum of 2,000 attendees in each. Accommodation at the campsite is not allowed and the festivals must make a health plan, says the expert group.

“We have a very hard time believing that it is realistic to carry out festivals in Denmark before the end of the summer”

The recommendation for indoor concerts with standing audiences is a maximum of 3,000 participants in phase 2.

Following the report, major Danish festivals Jelling Music Festival, Heartland, Northside, Copenhell, Tinderbox, Roskilde Festival and Nibe Festival, as well as live music association Dansk Live, have penned a joint letter urging the government to “work quickly with the recommendations” to give a final decision about the fate of the summer.

“We had all believed and hoped that we would get an answer when the government announced the plan for reopening Denmark on March 22nd. Instead, we got an expert group that has now spent precious time onto find recommendations for the reopening of major events.

“We fully recognize the great work that the expert group has put in…but the work has been started too late and we have a very hard time believing that it is realistic to carry out festivals in Denmark before the end of the summer,” the letter reads.

Minister of culture Joy Mogensen has not commented on the recommendations directly but has referred to the government’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) ‘safety net’ which will cover eligible festivals and major events between 1 May and 30 September 2021.

 


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Down the Drain celebrates festival success

Independent Scandinavian promoter Down the Drain Group has hailed the 2019 festival season a success so far, with fair weather, high attendance and advances in sustainability.

Down the Drain Group, the promoter behind several Danish festivals and the parent company of concert organiser Down the Drain Concerts (formerly Beatbox Entertainment), acquired Tinderbox and Northside from FKP Scorpio in April 2018.

Tinderbox, which took place from 27 to 29 June in the Danish city of Odense, welcomed a record 45,000 festivalgoers this year to see performances from Neil Young, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, the Chainsmokers and more.

Elsewhere, 35,000 attended the tenth edition of Aarhus-based NorthSide (6 to 8 June), which saw 100% organic food options at and a ban on single-use plastic bottles. Danish brewery Tuborg launched recyclable glasses at both Tinderbox and Northside this year.

The environmental effort harnessed praise from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon: “We’ve been to about a hundred billion festivals and this is the first one where there are absolutely no plastic bottles,” said Vernon. “That seems just a little bit more important than drums, guitars, and bass.”

“With Superstruct backing the group, we are very much looking forward to taking these amazing festivals to the next level”

“Five years with Tinderbox have flown by and it’s incredible to think that we have created 20 editions of festivals including Northside, Tinderbox, Haven and GrimFest in just ten years,” says Down the Drain Group chief executive, Brian Nielsen.

“In this time Down The Drain Group has emerged as a serious contender on the festival market – not just domestically, but throughout Europe. Now with Superstruct backing the group, we are very much looking forward to taking these amazing festivals to the next level.”

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct Entertainment invested in the Danish promoter in May. Superstruct owns and operates festivals across Europe including Sziget (Hungary), Sónar (Spain), Øya Festival (Norway) and Flow Festival (Finland).

Early Bird-ticket options for the 2020 edition of Northside have already sold out (4 to 6 June), with some remaining for Tinderbox (25 to 27 June).

 


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Danish festivals go single-use plastic free with Tuborg

Northside, Tinderbox, Roskilde and Green festivals are tackling plastic waste in collaboration with Danish brewery Tuborg, introducing new, reusable plastic glasses to the events.

Each year, the four festivals dispose of over two million plastic bar cups. This year Northside (33,000-cap.), Tinderbox (55,000-cap.), Roskilde (85,000-cap.) and touring concert Green (20,000-cap.) will only provide sustainable, reusable plastic cups, developed in cooperation with Tuborg.

The new glasses are made from polypropylene and can be washed onsite in Tuborg’s mobile dishwasher until worn down. It is expected that the glasses will endure 25 uses before sending the material back to the supplier for recycling.

At Roskilde, festivalgoers will pay a one-off charge of 5 DKK (US$0.8) for a cup, receiving 1 DKK ($0.2) back upon return. The rest of the cost goes towards paying for the washable recycling system.

The initiative was developed in conjunction with Danish environmental organisation Plastic Change, which has acted as an advisor to Tuborg throughout the project.

“This year, Tuborg is literally making life a little greener at festivals”

“This year, Tuborg is literally making life a little greener at festivals,” says Christian Sveigaard, marketing and sponsorship manager for Tuborg. “It’s a great day for Tuborg and a giant step towards reducing unnecessary plastic waste through a more circular business model.”

“The project is an important victory in the fight against unnecessary disposable plastic,” comments Henrik Beha, founder of Plastic Change. “It will also change the use-and-throw-away culture, which is one of the core challenges of the growing plastic waste. We see it as a big step forward that will undoubtedly inspire others to go in the same direction.”

Peter Woods of Down the Drain Group, the promoter for Northside and Tinderbox, says the festivals are expected to lead the way with environmentally friendly initiatives, given the audience they attract.

“I am particularly proud that we as an industry can stand together and take shared responsibility, when it really counts,” says Woods.

The introduction of recyclable plastic cups follows a string of eco-friendly festival initiatives around the world this year, including the single-use plastics ban at Glastonbury and ID&C’s new green wristbands, made from recycled plastic and bamboo.

 


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FKP Scorpio parts ways with Tinderbox and Northside

FKP Scorpio has sold its stake in leading Danish festivals Northside and Tinderbox for an undisclosed sum to Down the Drain Holding, which now owns 100% of both events.

Down the Drain, owned by festival directors Brian Nielsen and Flemming Myllerup and Beatbox Entertainment founder Mads Sørensen, is also the majority owner of Beatbox, and the co-owner of the new Haven festival in Copenhagen.

German-based FKP will continue to own a minority share of Beatbox, which books both festivals.

“We would like to thank the Danish team for their good collaboration so far, and are happy that we will continue to cooperate with Mads Sørensen and the rest of the Beatbox Entertainment team”, says Folkert Koopmans, CEO of FKP Scorpio.

“We have long wanted to consolidate the festivals under the Down the Drain umbrella”

Down the Drain Group CEO Nielsen says the company will now operate as an independent player in the Danish festival market.

“We have long wanted to consolidate the festivals under the Down the Drain umbrella, which today serves as Scandinavia’s largest independent concert and festival organiser,” he adds, “and we are pleased that it has fallen into place.”

In addition to Tinderbox, Northside and Haven, Down the Drain will in 2018 organise Sommertid i Søndermarken (1–2 June) in Copenhagen, Komos Festival (22–23 June) in Odense and Copenhagen and, through Beatbox, shows by Arctic Monkeys, Haim, the Black Angels, Calexico and Bon Iver.

 


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