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Tomorrowland eyes third festival weekend for 2022

The organisers of marquee Belgian festival Tomorrowland have officially submitted an application for a third festival weekend in 2022 “out of economic necessity”.

According to organisers, the third weekend would help compensate for six cancelled festival weekends, including four in Belgium (Tomorrowland 2020 and 2021) and two in France (Tomorrowland Winter 2020 and 2021).

According to Het Laatste Nieuws, the two consecutive cancellations of the Belgian festival alone caused a financial blow of “no less than €25 million”.

“We really have to do this to cushion the financial hangover,” Tomorrowland spokesperson Debby Wilmsen told the Belgian newspaper. “Before Covid, there were no plans to start organising three weekends.”

In order for the one-off extra weekend to go ahead, permission is required from the Antwerp region, as well as the municipalities of Boom and Rumst, where the 70,000-capacity festival has taken place since 2005.

“We really have to do this to cushion the financial hangover”

Tomorrowland has taken place across two weekends since the tenth anniversary

On the tenth anniversary of Tomorrowland, two festival weekends were held for the first time instead of one. It was then the intention to do this only in jubilee years, every five editions, but organisers got a permit to hold the festival two weekends a year.

A third weekend would be held one week before the dates already announced, on Friday 15, Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July 2022.

A public inquiry on the application will be open until Tuesday 24 October and public objections can be made.

A decision will be made no later than 13 January. As it stands, the proposed weekend is likely to get the backing of Antwerp, Boom and Rumst, who have all indicated that they are not opposed.

In the meantime, Tomorrowland is busy preparing for two weekends of Tomorrowland Winter in the Alpe d’Huez ski area in March 2022.

Tomorrowland isn’t the only festival extending its duration for 2022 – Spain’s Primavera, Croatia’s InMusic and Germany’s Summer Breeze are all expanding next year to celebrate anniversaries.

 


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Tomorrowland doubles up on festivals for 2022

Following a successful debut in 2019, Tomorrowland has announced the return of its winter edition for next March.

Tomorrowland Winter will take place at the Alpe d’Huez ski resort in the French Alps between 19–26 March 2022.

The first names for the festival have been announced today (16 September), with Adriatique, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Kungs, Lost Frequencies, Martin Solveig, Ofenbach, Paul Kalkbrenner, Quintino and Yves V all set to perform.

Tickets for the winter edition will go on sale on Saturday (18 September). Find out more information about the festival here.

Tomorrowland is also set to bring back its annual flagship festival next year, following two consecutive cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 70,000-capacity electronic dance festival will take place from 22–24 and 29–31 July 2022 at its usual location in Boom, Belgium. The line-up for the festival is yet to be announced.

 


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Tomorrowland launches record label

Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest dance music festival, has launched Tomorrowland Music, a new record label which will be distributed worldwide through Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, a division of Universal Music Group (UMG).

The Berlin-based label will be led Alexander Neipp, Daniel Schmidt and Magnus Textor (Virgin Records) and Tina Adams (Virgin Music Label & Artist Services). Its first release, out tomorrow (27 August), will be ‘You Got the Love’ by Never Sleeps, a new project by Afrojack and Chico Rose.

Michiel Beers, CEO and founder of Tomorrowland, says: “Creativity is something that can’t be stopped at Tomorrowland. I’m very proud of how resilient our team was to find new ways of bringing Tomorrowland into the reality of the last period. We have taken the extra time to focus on projects that were on our list for a long time and one of them was definitely launching our own Tomorrowland Music label.

“Michel Van Buyten, music manager of Tomorrowland Music, will work closely together with artists to help create strong stories around their releases. With the combined forces of our dedicated label team, Tomorrowland Media House, and the different Virgin Music teams worldwide, our aim is to introduce fans in every corner of the world to the most exciting projects in electronic music.”

Tomorrowland, which has been held in Boom, Belgium, since 2005, was cancelled in 2021 for a second year running after local authorities pulled its permit, citing concerns over Covid-19.

“I’m confident the new label is going to be a special place and a great home for artists”

A digital festival, Tomorrowland: Around the World, took place on 16 and 17 July, featuring music from Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero and Charlotte de Witte.

Frank Briegmann, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Central Europe, comments: “Over the past 15 years Tomorrowland has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading festivals and electronic music brands by consistently expanding and evolving their relationship with music fans. Today, Tomorrowland is one of Europe’s most innovative music brands, respected by artists and loved by the millions of people who have attended their events around the world.

“We are delighted to have partnered with them to support the launch of their new label venture and to have created a uniquely flexible model utilising our expert and proven teams at Virgin Records Germany, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services teams around the world, and other flagship UMG labels worldwide to help drive success and create global hits for Tomorrowland. We look forward to a very successful partnership together, and to further enhancing our ability to provide partners, labels and artists with new and innovative ways to achieve global success.”

“Joining forces with Tomorrowland Music feels like love at first sight,” adds Magnus Textor, head of A&R for Virgin Records Germany. “It’s great to see that we share the same passion for electronic music and artists. Everyone who has ever been to Tomorrowland or even just seen one of their event films has experienced their dedication. Therefore, I’m confident the new label is going to be a special place and a great home for artists.”

 


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Belgium PM: Indoor events could return in autumn

Large indoor events should be able to take place in Belgium this September, provided residents are “motivated” to get vaccinated, according to prime minister Alexander De Croo.

Belgium’s vaccination campaign has been relatively successful so far, with almost 70% of the total population having received one jab and more than 50% receiving two doses, according to Our World in Data.

“It remains a bit uncertain, but if you look at how fast our vaccination rollout is going, then by the beginning of September, those who should be fully vaccinated will be and so far, there is no reason to believe that the protection would not be good, so in autumn, those kinds of concerts and events where you are standing close to other people should be possible,” De Croo told Studio Brussels.

The statement follows the announcement that Pukkelpop – the last remaining major international music festival in Belgium following the cancellation last month of Tomorrowland – will not take place again this year.

“Multi-day festivals are more difficult, especially if you have a young audience [who] have not yet been fully vaccinated”

The cancellation was a result of new government regulations that would have required the festival to almost triple its on-site testing capacity with less than a month to go until gates open.

“Multi-day festivals are more difficult, especially if you have a young audience. Many 16-year-olds, for example, have not yet been fully vaccinated,” De Croo said.

The full reopening of Belgium’s live music sector will be facilitated by the Covid Safe Ticket (CTS), which was announced last week.

The domestic health pass, which will certify the Covid-19 status of attendees to major entertainment and sports events, will apply to outdoor events from 13 August and indoor events from 1 September.

The CTS eliminates the need for social distancing, promoters must implement a crowd management plan, as well as ensuring adequate ventilation (in the case of indoor shows) which is measured by a CO2 meter, according to the Belgian government.

 


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Virtual Tomorrowland gets “world’s fastest flyer”

Tomorrowland will advertise its upcoming virtual event, Tomorrowland Around the World, with the “world’s fastest flyer” – an ad on the side of a Formula 1 car – at this weekend’s Austrian grand prix.

Marking the first time a music festival has appeared on an F1 car, the Tomorrowland Around the World logo will appear on the McLaren MCL35M driven by Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo as part of a partnership with McLaren sponsor British American Tobacco (BAT), which will hand over its spot on the car for the race on 4 July.

While Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest dance music festival, has been forced to cancel its flagship physical event in Boom, Belgium, there will be a Tomorrowland festival this year in the form of the second edition of Tomorrowland: Around the World, a virtual festival with Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Charlotte de Witte and other international DJs taking place place on 16 and 17 July. Over 1m people bought tickets for last year’s Around the World event.

 

The partnership with BAT will use the “global audiences of the grand prix to drive visibility to the digital festival” for both new and existing Tomorrowland fans, says BAT.

John Beasley, group head of brand building for BAT, comments: “McLaren is more than a partner in motorsport; we share a love of music and innovation, and this provides a never-before-seen opportunity to make a statement for our music-loving fans of motor racing and provid[e] much-needed support for the live music industry.

“We always want to help our partners and give back to the fans, and while Tomorrowland may not happen in person in 2021, together we have created the world’s fastest flyer for the greatest digital music festival.”

Tickets for Tomorrowland Around the World, which takes place in a virtual world on the “magical island” of Pāpiliōnem, are priced from €20.

 


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Tomorrowland 2021 officially cancelled

In a major blow to the Belgian festival season, there will be no Tomorrowland in 2021, organisers have confirmed.

Despite a last-minute plea from the prime minister of Flanders, the mayors of the towns of Boom and Rumst, where the 70,000-capacity festival has taken place since 2005, are unmoved in their decision not to grant Tomorrowland a permit to go ahead, citing concerns about the safety of local residents.

Although the Belgian government has cleared 75,000-capacity festivals from 13 August 2021, Tomorrowland – which was scheduled for 27–29 August and 3–5 September – confirmed earlier this week that mayors Jeroen Baert (Boom) and Jurgen Callaerts (Rumst) had decreed the event, the world’s largest dance music festival, would not be allowed to go ahead this summer.

A delegation of Flemish and Belgian government ministers headed by Flanders’ minister-president, Jan Jambon, met with Baert and Callaerts on Monday but the pair reiterated their previous decision. “It was a constructive conversation, but our position on the matter does not change,” they say in a joint statement.

According to local media, the ministers had attempted to convince the mayors to issue the permit by saying there would be fewer non-Belgians at Tomorrowland than usual, as well as offering help from the federal and Flemish governments to manage the flow of people and provide rapid Covid-19 testing of guests. But Baert and Callaerts stuck to their guns.

“We cannot reconsider our decision regarding the requested permit”

“After our announcement, we were contacted by Flemish minister of the interior and society Bart Somers, Flemish [minister-president and] minister of culture Jan Jambon and federal minister of the interior Annelies Verlinden to clarify our decision,” reads a press release issued by Baert. “Of course we were happy to discuss this in an open dialogue and it was a very constructive conversation with the three excellencies. We understand, of course, all the economic interests at stake and especially the eagerness with which everyone wants a festival summer back, but the responsibility to ensure public peace, safety and health rests with us as mayors. In view of the current circumstances known to us, we cannot reconsider our decision and our position regarding the requested permit.”

In light of the mayors’ decision, the festival has been forced to throw in the towel, leaving Pukkelpop (19–22 August) as the last remaining major music festival in Flanders in 2021.

“It is with a heavy heart our organisation must announce that the 16th edition of Tomorrowland Belgium cannot take place in 2021,” reads a statement from the Tomorrowland team, which warned earlier this week that a cancellation would have a huge impact on the festival’s thousands of employees, freelancers and suppliers.

“The entire team fought till the end and did everything in their powers to write a new chapter in the history of Tomorrowland. Our dream was to welcome the People of Tomorrow, who we’ve been missing for too long, to celebrate life to the fullest. But unfortunately, the local government has not given the permit to organise Tomorrowland.”

“The main stage was finished … 140 people were working full time to make the festival”

While Somers said this morning (24 June) that Tomorrowland would not have to pay back in full the €1.8 million aid it received from the Flemish government earlier this year, the cancellation still leaves the festival in financial trouble, according to a spokesperson.

“[It] is a lot of money and we are very happy with the support, but it is a drop in the ocean,” Debby Wilmsen tells the Brussels Times, adding that the festival has already cancelled orders worth €50m.

“We were starting up already,” she explains. “The main stage was finished, we had to pay the advances for ordering materials, the delivery of the wristbands had been ordered, 140 people were working full time to make the festival, artists were booked… Organising a festival like Tomorrowland costs a lot of money, and a lot of things have to be paid in advance.”

The second edition of Tomorrowland: Around the World, a virtual festival with Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Charlotte de Witte and other international DJs, will take place on 16 and 17 July. Over 1m people bought tickets for last year’s Around the World event.

 


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Tomorrowland 2021 in doubt as mayor pulls the plug

The 2021 edition of Tomorrowland hangs in the balance after local authorities decreed the dance music festival would not be allowed to go ahead, despite the Belgian government having cleared 75,000-capacity festivals from 13 August.

In an update to fans on Friday, the festival explained that the mayor of Boom – the town near Antwerp where Tomorrowland has taken place since 2005 – is of the opinion that events of more than 400 people are illegal until ministers publish details of the decree permitting large open-air events, first announced earlier this month. As a result, the local authority has “decided that the 16th edition of Tomorrowland cannot take place in 2021”, reads the Tomorrowland announcement.

The shock announcement hit the festival team “very hard, like a sledgehammer”, they say in a Dutch-language statement, and would have a devastating impact on the thousands of employees, freelancers and suppliers of the 70,000-capacity festival.

“We are very surprised and puzzled by these contradictory messages from our governments,” continues the statement. “In the next few days we will explore all possible options and try to obtain some clarity for our visitors and suppliers.”

Jeroen Baert, the mayor of Boom, says in a press release that “although the epidemiological situation is improving, the organisation of large events would still entail too high risks”, noting that neighbouring countries still have “stricter conditions” on festivals.

At a regional level, politicians in Flanders are pushing hard for the ban to be overturned, with Flemish deputy prime minister Bart Somers saying he intends to meet with the mayors of Boom and nearby Rumst to find a way forward for the festival – though the decision ultimately rests with local councillors.

“If Pukkelpop can go ahead, I am convinced that we can also organise Tomorrowland”

“Of course it falls under the powers and local autonomy of our cities and municipalities to decide for themselves whether certain events can take place on their territory, but the Flemish government has campaigned for festivals to be possible again this summer,” says Somers.

“This sector has suffered greatly from the coronavirus crisis and we have supported them with financial resources to help them get through it, but from 13 August it should be possible to organise larger festivals again. If Pukkelpop can go ahead, I am convinced that we can also organise Tomorrowland.”

Tomorrowland is scheduled across two weekends on 27–29 August and 3–5 September. Pukkelpop (66,000-cap.), which takes place from 19 to 22 August, is still very much still on, with organisers releasing the following statement: “In regard of the news about Tomorrowland, we would like to reassure our festivalgoers. The safety protocols and legal structures will become clear in the coming weeks. A special task force under government guidance is overseeing preparations for August.

“Pukkelpop and the city of Hasselt have been close partners for years, so it goes without saying that we are in continuous dialogue to make the festival a safe environment.”

Along with Serbia’s Exit Festival and a handful of UK events, the Flemish festivals are some of the only major music festivals to be going ahead in Europe this summer. Tomorrowland has been sold out since 2020, while Pukkelpop has sold 70% of its four-day passes, with only Belgians currently able to buy tickets. The international sale starts on 1 July.

 


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Belgium OKs 75,000-cap. open-air festivals

In what will be welcome news to Belgium’s remaining late-summer festivals, the country’s federal government has announced that large-scale events of up to 75,000 people may take place from 13 August.

In a press conference on Friday (4 June) afternoon, Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed that mass events held in the open air, such as festivals like Pukkelpop (66,000-cap.), would be permitted from that date, providing attendees can present a ‘Covid safety ticket’ (proof of full vaccination) or a negative Covid-19 before entry.

The federal announcement follows the publication of the Flemish reopening roadmap – the so-called ‘Freedom Plan’, which advised that large events should be able to go ahead from the end of July – last month.

Speaking during the federal government’s press conference, Vandenbroucke suggested festival organisers could also offer their own on-site rapid antigen facilities, reports the Brussels Times.

In addition to Pukkelpop, large events which are now cleared to go ahead include another mega-festival, dance music event Tomorrowland (70,000-cap.), and the Formula 1 Belgian grand prix in Spa-Francorchamps. Both festivals have yet to announce a 2021 line-up.

“We look forward to organising a festival at the end of August”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Tomorrowland, which is scheduled for 27–29 August and 3–5 September, says: “We are very happy to receive this news, but we will wait for the conditions and rules before we will communicate about the organisation of the festival. We are very positive, and we look forward to organising a festival at the end of August.”

Pukkelpop (19–22 August) is aiming for “full capacity, 66,000 people a day,” organiser Chokri Mahassine tells radio station Studio Brussel, adding that the festival will be “without social distancing and without masks.” “You will be able to walk around and hug each other,” he says.

In a statement, Mahassine says the lifting of restrictions comes after months of lobbying by the industry. “These past few months our sector has made a deliberate choice to engage in constructive cooperation behind the scenes, and we would like to continue in the same vein, with expertise and equal input on all sides,” he comments.

“The safety of our visitors, artists, crew and local residents remains our top priority. Everything else will follow from there. Now it’s full speed ahead to a wonderful new edition of Pukkelpop.”

13 August ushers in the second-to-last stage of Belgium’s easing of lockdown, with the final restrictions planned to be lifted from 1 September.

As IQ reported last week, festival season is also on in Austria, with full-capacity events allowed to resume from 1 July.

 


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Flemish gov optimistic about Pukkelpop, Tomorrowland

The Flemish government says large events such as Pukkelpop and Tomorrowland should be able to go ahead in late summer, under certain conditions.

The reassurance for Belgian festival organisers comes after the government unveiled its summer ‘Freedom Plan’ yesterday (9 May), which ventures that all adults would have had the chance to be vaccinated by mid-August.

Flemish minister of health Frank Vandenbroucke says the implementation of the Green Pass – the European corona passport which shows vaccination status and test results – will be key to restarting large events.

Other conditions include on-site Covid-19 testing and limiting access to events to Europeans: “We will not invite the whole world. Within Europe, too, we have to be careful who we admit,” says Vandenbroucke.

The Flemish minister of health says the implementation of the Green Pass will be key to restarting large events

According to the Freedom Plan, large events can restart in July under certain conditions. Events can take place with 5,000 outdoors or 3,000 indoors provided attendees adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing.

In August, the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor events is increased to 10,000, and 4,500 indoors.

Pukkelpop (cap. 60,000) and Tomorrowland (70,000) are set to take place in late August and early September respectively and are the last major Belgian festivals still planning to go ahead after Rock Werchter and Graspop cancelled their 2021 events.

The cancellations came despite the Flemish government’s €60 million pot to help the region’s organisers kickstart preparations for this summer’s festival season.


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Flemish government earmarks €60m for festivals

The Flemish government has designated a total of €60 million to help the region’s organisers kickstart preparations for this summer’s festival season.

Flemish minister of economy, Hilde Crevits, has allocated €50m in repayable advances for the broader events sector to “to get the engine going and offer insurance against the risk of organising an event in uncertain times”, she says.

This is in addition to the €43m worth of repayable loans Crevits has already released, which went to 150 organisers including music festivals such as Sfinks, Laundry Day and Gent Jazz.

For the new round of funding, the maximum amount an organiser can apply for has been raised from €800,000 to €1.8m and larger organisations will be eligible to apply this time.

All events that secure funding must comply with the measures applicable at the time they take place and, according to Tidj, in most cases, the advance is non-refundable if the event is cancelled.

The remaining €10m from the €60m pot – allocated by Flemish minister of tourism, Zuhal Demir – will subsidise Covid measures for small music festivals, such as the construction of rapid test villages, additional entrances and exits, or the rental of a larger site.

“Flanders has the best festivals in all of Europe…it is in everyone’s interest that the festival summer can take place”

“Smaller events with a total cost of at least €250,000 can count on the support of up to €75,000, while larger players with budgets of at least €7.5 m can count on support of up to €500,000,” says Demir.

The application process for corona-proofing grants is already open on Event Flanders. Organisers can combine both types of support.

Demir is working with Event Flanders, which sets out the event policy for Tourism Flanders, along with virologists and festival organisers, to work out the conditions under which festivals can take place safely. The plan should be ready by the end of this month.

“Flanders has the best festivals in all of Europe,” says Demir. “From large mass manifestations to the more intimate niche events, it is in everyone’s interest that the festival summer of 2021 can take place in the best possible way, for organisers, for visitors and for the rest of Flanders.”

Flanders is one of three Belgian regions which encompasses major cities including Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges, and is home to the country’s biggest festivals including Tomorrowland (pictured), Pukkelpop and Rock Werchter.

Last month, Flemish prime minister, Jan Jambon, also responsible for culture, announced that there will be clarity for festivals by mid-March at the latest.

 


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