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Flow Festival plans revamp after record year

Finland’s Flow Festival is planning a shake up of its formula as it builds from a position of strength following its biggest edition yet in 2022.

Organisers of the Superstruct-backed festival, which welcomed 90,000 visitors to the post-industrial Suvilahti area in Helsinki over three days last summer, unveiled their first raft of acts for 2023 last month.

Set for 11-13 August, the line-up will include FKA Twigs, Caroline Polachek, Suede, Devo, Amyl & The Sniffers, Shygirl, Jockstrap and 070 Shake. Three-day tickets cost €225, with gold passes priced €345.

“The festival is shaping up really well,” Flow Festival creative director Tuomas Kallio tells IQ. “We are super-happy with some of the bookings for 2023. The effects of Covid, as well as geopolitical changes in Europe, affected international sales in 2022, so we are now looking forward to those numbers bouncing back in 2023 and welcoming even more visitors to Helsinki this August.

“Also, we are very excited to be able to use the festival area in the current, well-tested and iterated formula one more time. After this year, we will see some quite dramatic changes in our festival area, since it will begin to undergo drastic construction and developmental projects.

“Our 2022 was a successful return in numerous measures”

Kallio explains that a number of major production and technical changes are already in the works.

“Our biggest tent provider is new and the Main Stage structure will also change this year,” he says. “Otherwise our festival concept and vision remains the same it has been from the very beginning: to create a responsible high-quality and international festival, that is first and foremost a content-driven overall experience.”

The 2022 festival hosted more than 150 artists including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine, Burna Boy, Michael Kiwanuka, Jamie xx and Princess Nokia.

“Our 2022 was a successful return in numerous measures,” he says. “We made our sales record with a sold-out attendance of 90,000 and nearly 50,000 unique visitors during the three-day festival weekend. One of the absolute highlights was the new indoor art space we introduced at the festival area. Our festival is held at an old power plant area and has some amazing protected buildings from the beginning of the 20th century.”

Kallio opens up on his hopes and concerns regarding the wider festival market.

“There are festival and concert operators who are unfortunately ready to lose a lot of money to book certain acts”

“After Covid, a lot of artist tours have become dramatically shorter than before and thus, the competition even harder,” he says. “There are festival and concert operators who are unfortunately ready to lose a lot of money to book certain acts. This makes ever-raising artist fees even higher and, at times, unfeasible for a healthy festival market in Europe. A ‘multistage music lover’-based concept with a lot of various artists becomes financially harder compared to the years before Covid.”

In closing, Kallio stresses Flow’s commitment to retaining its status as a forerunner in festival sustainability, standing among the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals in its scale since 2009.

“The carbon footprint of Flow Festival Helsinki has been calculated and compensated for over a decade, but in 2021, this work was taken up a notch as a more extensive research project into the sustainability of the festival was launched in collaboration between Flow Festival ltd. and D-mat ltd,” he says.

“This research has, for the first time, captured the material footprint in addition to the carbon footprint of the festival and advanced the calculation of the carbon footprint to include indirect emissions related to the festival as widely as possible. This provides a more comprehensive view into the environmental impact of Flow Festival Helsinki than earlier, and presents the opportunity to reduce the environmental impacts holistically with new solutions targeting the key hotspots in terms of the festivalʼs sustainability.”

“A big part of sustainability for us is also to take into consideration the social side of it”

He continues: “A big part of sustainability for us is also to take into consideration the social side of it. This means promoting equality, safety, diversity, and accessibility. As an employer, we expect our entire staff, as well as our associates and distributors, to adhere to the same values. We also have developed an equality plan and a code of conduct that all our staff and subcontractors commit to following.

” We also participate in the European Keychange initiative. In 2022, approximately 55 % of the groups that performed at Flow had women and non-binary members. For some years, we have also worked with Startup Refugees, a non-profit voluntary network supporting refugees and immigrants with employment and entrepreneurship in Finland.

“All in all, we think creating a high-quality, comprehensive festival experience and working towards a more sustainable future can and should be mutually inclusive.”


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