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The heat is on: extreme weather and live music

How the industry can best cope with the increasing number of extreme weather events impacting festivals and open-air events was a major topic of conversation during this month’s ILMC in London.

Presented by GEI, The Heat Is On: Extreme Weather & Live Music session was chaired by veteran tour and production manager Jamal Chalabi of A Greener Future and included a presentation from Met Office meteorologist Prof Richard Betts on changing climate patterns.

The debate also featured May Ling of Australia’s Chugg Entertainment and freelance festival security and safety consultant Alexandra Von Samson, as well as Wacken Open Air co-founder Thomas Jensen.

“I do find it quite amazing in this industry that we still think we have a choice to deal with climate change, we clearly don’t have a choice,” said Chalabi, who gave a sample of events around the globe to have been hit by the elements over the past 12 months.

The list included Primavera Sound Madrid, Awakenings in the Netherlands, Slovenia’s MetalDays, the UK’s Kaleidoscope, shows by Louis Tomlinson show and Ed Sheeran in the US, Burning Man, Taylor Swift in Brazil, Elton John in New Zealand and Wacken Open Air in Germany.

“We’d had bad weather in the past, but last year was kind of different”

Jensen recalled Wacken’s near-catastrophic weather-related struggles last summer, which saw the festival proceed at reduced capacity after the site was hit by rain and thunderstorms in the days leading up to it, leaving the camping areas “impassable”.

“We’d had bad weather in the past, but last year was kind of different,” said Jensen. “There was a long dry period, leading up to the festival from mid June until early July, right when we started to set up the production. And then it started to rain, up to when the fans were arriving.

“The whole traffic system basically collapsed. It got really dramatic. Everything got stuck.”

Around 30,000 ticket-holders were subsequently denied entry after organisers allowed no further admission due to the adverse conditions.

“In over 30 years, it was the hardest decision I ever had to make,” said Jensen. “We’re in the music industry and timing is is crucial, and so we made the decision to have an ingress stop, which was very hard. At the end of the day, it’s debatable: could we have let a couple of more people in or not? Had we been strict enough? But I think, in principle, it was the right decision.”

“Thirty years ago, it was mostly the rain, but it’s now changed to raining one second and being 35 or 40°C suddenly after that”

He added: “We always say the ones that stayed home made the festival possible, at the end of the day, and they saved the insurance companies a lot of money. They made it possible for the other two-thirds to have a party. That’s why we’re extremely grateful.”

The Diplomat reported last week that more than 40 Australian music festivals have been cancelled, postponed, or evacuated due to heat, fires, rain or floods over the past decade, with more than 20 such incidents occurring in 2022 alone, amid record rainfall in the eastern states.

Ling told the session that extreme weather “has always been a part of what we have to deal with” in the region.

“Thirty years ago, it was mostly the rain, but it’s now changed to raining one second and being 35 or 40°C suddenly after that,” she said. “Even if we prepare for everything, you still can’t really control that.

“One thing we always did was have a meteorologist on site at our big outdoor shows. We also had the fire department in extreme heat conditions, and would have them hose the front of the crowd because those kids couldn’t get out to get water. You can give away as much free water as as you want, but those kids are not losing their spot before Guns N’ Roses comes on stage.”

“A 100% safe event is not existing in this world”

She continued: “Another huge safety concern that people forget about and it’s that everybody at the front of the stage can get electrocuted if a flash flood happens, and  you have to know when to pull the plug basically so that all these kids don’t get electrocuted.”

Von Samson recommended the business should learn from each other, adding that communication is crucial at all levels.

“It’s great if you have your plans, but it’s not so great if not everyone knows about them – and I’m including audience in that as well,” she said. “Make them aware they are part of the festival. I strongly believe in informing them as much as much as you can to keep them self-aware and empowered.

“You don’t want to be the festival or the promoter where something really bad happens. No one wants that, so you have to set up risk assessments. A 100% safe event is not existing in this world.”

Offering her final thoughts, Ling said battling the increasingly unpredictable conditions was a fact of life as an outdoor event organiser – but employing the right people behind the scenes is still paramount.

“We’re all about adaption – that’s why this industry can adapt quickly to this situation and be a leading light to change”

“As best you can prepare, when when an emergency happens, you just have to have good people that are safety conscious, know what they’re doing and act quickly, and they keep the crowd and the bands safe. Weather is a thing that is not going away, no matter what extremes it goes to. And as an outdoor event person, you have to deal with it.”

Betts called upon the music industry to lead the way in taking steps to help combat the climate crisis.

“The live music sector can play a really important role in setting an example about how to live with the weather we’ve made more extreme, but also stopping it getting more extreme, and stopping climate change by being more sustainable in the industry,” he said.

Chalabi brought proceedings to a close on a similarly positive note.

“Our community in the music industry, we’re the best,” he said. “We’re all about adaption – that’s why this industry can adapt quickly to this situation and be a leading light to change.”

 


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Fans can ‘pay with their blood’ for Wacken show

German heavy metal festival Wacken Open Air is offering a novel form of payment for its pre-festival showcase, encouraging fans to “pay with your blood”.

From next Monday (11 March), individuals who donate blood to Essen University Hospital will receive free admission to the festival’s warm-up show. The gig, set for one day after World Blood Donor Day, will take place at the Turock nightclub in Essen, Germany.

“The goal of the World Blood Donor Day campaign on June 14th is to fill the empty blood banks, recruit new donors and ultimately save lives,” organisers said in a press release.

‘Fill empty blood banks, recruit new donors, and ultimately save lives’

This preliminary gig will showcase three acts — Celeste, Downfall of Gaia and Friisk — in an evening ‘dedicated to the extreme varieties of metal’.

The four-day festival has encouraged blood donation for over a decade, offering a free t-shirt in exchange for six recorded donations on the official W:O:A blood donor passport.

The 33rd edition of the metal festival, set for 31 July through 4 August, will be led by Scorpions, Korn and Amon Amarth.

Additional performers include Blind Guardian, In Extremo and Axel Rudi Pell. This year’s instalment sold out in record time, with fans snagging all 85,000 tickets in four-and-a-half hours.

Fans looking to pay for the warm-up show the conventional way can find tickets at Eventim and Metaltix.

 


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ILMC 36: Festival heads discuss headliner drought

European festival organisers came together at ILMC 36 to discuss the sector’s biggest challenges, including the lack of available headliners.

Cindy Castillo, Mad Cool (ES), Jim King, AEG Presents (UK), Jess Phillips, Untitled Group (AU), Jan Quiel, Wacken Open Air (DE) and Annika Hintz, Superbloom (DE) took the stage for Festival Forum: Headline Topics, moderated by UTA’s Jules De Lattre.

“The challenge across all my UK business has been the availability of headline talent,” said King. “When they’re prepared to confirm, how we can get that show announced and then the sales window that we’re dealing with. The shows we’re putting up are selling very strongly. The demand is there, it’s supply that’s an issue.”

Castillo added: “The most difficult thing this year has definitely been booking headliners and being able to deliver a good lineup. The time between sending our first offer and getting a headliner confirmed was the longest period ever. This is due to many circumstances: the cost, production, dates, not wanting to tour, saturation of the market.”

“The demand is there, it’s supply that’s an issue”

De Lattre suggested the lack of headliners was partly down to the boom in arena and stadium tours.

“Major artists have less of a financial incentive to play festivals since the headline touring business is more rewarding than ever,” he said. “You’ve got higher income on a headlining tour, you’ve got better routes and full control of your production.”

King added: “More acts need to tour festivals and that’s the most urgent issue we have to address.”

Phillips, from Australian promoter Untitled Group, added that it’s not just the availability of headliners that’s an issue but the “astronomical” cost of bringing them to her country. “The problem with that is our breakeven just skyrockets,” she said.

Phillips believes this is the reason why festival cancellations in Australia are mounting: “What we’ve seen recently is festivals putting all their money into securing a good headliner and then collapsing eight days after going on sale because they can tell from that they’re not going to get anywhere near that breakeven.”

“We worry too much about ticket price and not enough about the value of the ticket”

While rising costs are still an ongoing concern in the sector, panellists said they were determined to find solutions.

“There are bits and pieces to cover those costs,” said Jan Quiel. “We’ve been doing VIP packages and making a little extra on glamping, which we only started doing a couple of years ago.”

Castillo adds: “The only possible solution is to get creative about it and face new challenges with new solutions. We can’t control the situation because it’s a world thing, not a local thing.”

King argued that festival organisers should be “concentrating more on value than they do on cost”.

“We need to convince people that going to a festival will be just as much of an enriching experience as going on holiday”

“The first natural reaction when costs go up is to have less – less stages and smaller production,” he said. “If you reduce the value, you reduce the experience and then you’re on a downward spiral. I think if you look at the most successful festivals, they’re actually adding more value to the ticket. We worry too much about ticket price and not enough about the value of the ticket.”

“That doesn’t address the attrition rate, which is always going to be high. There will be more shows that fail because the barrier to entry, financially, is so high and the risk point is so high. I think it’s devastating. But that’s the direction of travel. I think it’s very difficult to change.”

Phillips agreed, adding that the value of a festival needs to match that of a holiday: “It can’t just be a stage and a hotdog stand, fans need to see an immersive experience. We need to convince people that going to a festival will be just as much of an enriching experience as going on holiday or spending your money on something else.

“We project the message that live music is just one element of our festivals and that there are many other activities. We want to deliver a whole other world, like a holiday destination. And that’s what we’re seeing is the most successful outcome.”

 


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Wacken takes its metal culture to new market

The team behind Wacken Open Air are exporting their expertise to the Saxony region of Germany by launching a new three-day festival in May.

Chemnitz Metal Culture (CMC) was originally scheduled as a winter event, but the December 2023 event had to be shelved because of illness. However, Wacken, together with congress and event hall Kraftverkehr Chemnitz, have revealed plans for a 24-26 May festival, bringing metal fans to the former industrial venue.

With Chemnitz set to inherit the European City of Culture crown in 2025, the festival will be part of an impressive programme of events over the next couple of years, with festival organisers taking the opportunity to stage the semi-finals of the Wacken Metal Battle in the CMC line-up.

“Wacken and the Capital of Culture 2025: they fit together wonderfully. Especially in a hall that today shows all the technical refinements and that was once a real ‘metal’ hotspot as a historic bus repair facility,” comments Andreas Wöllenstein, owner of Kraftverkehr Chemnitz.

The final day of the event, the Wacken Foundation Family Day, will offer free admission to fans

The line-up for the warm-up show on Friday, 24 May, includes Destruction, Insanity Alert and, as openers, local act One Step Back, with organisers explaining that the event is intended to offer emerging artists from Chemnitz and Saxony an opportunity to showcase their talent.

The German semi-finals of the Wacken Metal Battle will take place on 25 May, pitting five bands against each other to secure a place at Wacken Open Air. The line-up includes Hamburg trio Messticator, death metal group Deserted Fear, and metalcore outfit Caliban. Early bird tickets for Chemnitz Metal Culture start at €50.

The final day of the event, the Wacken Foundation Family Day, will offer free admission to fans, who will be entertained by the likes of Mutz, Kool Katz, and Horst Adler Kapelle.

The 2024 edition of Wacken Open Air sold out within hours of going on sale, back in August. With an additional day announced for the festival, the 31 July to 3 August festival has confirmed acts such as Scorpions, Amon Amarth, Blind Guardian, In Extremo, Korn, and many more.

 


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Wacken Open Air adds extra arrival day for 2024

German metal festival Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) is introducing an extra arrival day for campers in 2024 in a bid to help avoid a repeat of the scenes that marred this year’s festival.

Promoter International Concert Service was forced to run the 85,000-cap event at a reduced capacity back in August after the festival site was hit by rain and thunderstorms in the days leading up to it, leaving the camping areas “impassable”.

Around 61,000 people entered the site before no further admissions were allowed, meaning close to 25,000 ticket-holders were denied entry.

“We had to leave a third of our family standing in front of the door. That was almost emotionally unbearable.” says the Superstruct-backed event’s co-founder Thomas Jensen. 

In a message to fans, W:O:A says: “In 2024, we want to do everything we can to avoid a similar situation.

“What many of you have wanted for a long time, we will implement next year: we will open some camping areas on Sunday, 28th of July 2024 from 8am, including Bauer Uwes Garten, Camper-Park and of course the heart of our camping areas, the W:O:A Campground.”

“Our team have developed a system that’ll allow us even more precise planning and can help to optimise the traffic situation for everyone”

It will mark the first time a limited number of access passes, priced €66.60 per vehicle, will be made available for the Sunday before the festival – meaning areas of the campsite will be open for a whole week.

People arriving by car must register online in advance for an exact day of arrival, with a welcome party for early arrivals to be hosted by Wacken boss Holger Hübner, aka DJ Hübi.

“In order to be best prepared for the upcoming edition, we and our team have developed a system that’ll allow us even more precise planning and can help to optimise the traffic situation for everyone,” says Jensen. “We would therefore like to thank the metalheads in advance for their support in this matter with their pre-registration – and look forward to spending a whole week on the field with some of them,”

Artists announced for next year’s event, which runs from 31 July to 3 August, include Scorpions, Amon Amorth and In Extremo. All tickets sold out in just four-and-a-half hours. Ticket-holders denied entry this year were given first refusal to buy tickets for Wacken 2024.

 


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Wacken rebounds to sell out 2024 in record time

Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) has rebounded from this year’s weather-related struggles to sell out next year’s festival in record time.

All 85,000 tickets were snapped up in just four-and-a-half hours yesterday evening, smashing the existing record of six hours set for 2023’s event.

Artists including Scorpions, Amon Amorth and In Extremo are already confirmed for W:O:A 2024, which will take place under the Witches & Warlocks banner from 31 July to 3 August.

The news provides a boost for organiser International Concert Service, which was forced to run last week’s festival at a significantly reduced capacity after the site was hit by rain and thunderstorms in the days leading up to it, leaving the camping areas “impassable”.

The 32nd edition of the German metal institution concluded over the weekend, having welcomed the likes of Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Dropkick Murphys, Wardruna, Beartooth, Ensiferum and Pentagram.

Revised numbers indicate that 61,000 people entered the site before no further admissions were allowed (initial police reports put the figure at around 50,000), meaning close to 25,000 legitimate ticket-holders were denied entry. Those fans were given first refusal to buy tickets for next year’s Wacken, priced €333.

“We are more than grateful and humbled for your trust,” says a message from promoters. “Especially after the difficult start of the festival this summer, where a part of our metal family couldn’t celebrate with us, we really appreciate that the community stands by us and sticks together. The fact that all 85,000 tickets are gone is simply amazing!”

Festival co-founder Thomas Jensen estimates the revenue shortfall caused by the capacity reduction to be in excess of €7 million

With tickets for 2023 costing €299, the Superstruct-backed festival’s co-founder Thomas Jensen estimates the revenue shortfall caused by the capacity reduction to be in excess of €7 million.

“It’s a third of our income: 23,500 x 299, and then you get pretty close somewhere,” Jensen tells Watson.

Weather conditions have continued to blight Europe’s festival season. The final day of Slovenia’s MetalDays was scrapped on Friday (4 August) due to torrential rain and flash flooding in the area, which prompted the authorities to issue a state of emergency. The death toll has since climbed to six, prompting prime minister Robert Golob to describe the situation as the country’s worst natural disaster since gaining independence three decades ago.

Elsewhere, Depeche Mode’s scheduled Live Nation Finland-promoted concert at Kaisaniemi Park in Helsinki tomorrow night (8 August) has been cancelled due to forecasted severe weather conditions.

“The health and safety of our fans, crew, and everyone working at the site are our number one priority, and we have been advised by Tukes (the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency) and the local fire department that it could be unsafe to proceed given the forecasted weather conditions,” says a representative for the band.

Other outdoor music events to be disrupted by adverse weather conditions this summer include Pitchfork (US), Bluedot (UK), Primavera (Spain), Dutch festivals Awakenings, Bospop and Wildeburg, Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival and Robbie Williams’ concert in Austria.

 


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Wacken allows no further admission due to weather

Around 35,000 ticket-holders are believed to have been denied entry to this year’s Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) after organisers allowed no further admission due to adverse weather conditions.

The 32nd edition of the German metal festival kicked off today (2 August) and is set to run until Saturday, but the site has been hit by rain and thunderstorms in the run-up to the event, leaving the camping areas “impassable”.

Promoter International Concert Service (ICS) advised fans travelling to the event yesterday to temporarily stop their journeys and find a suitable waiting spot, with “massive rain and possible thunderstorms” forecast, but has since permitted no further entry.

“Due to the weather, the acceptable number of visitors for the Wacken Open Air 2023 was reached,” says a statement from ICS. “Any further arrival must be stopped and cancelled immediately. This decision has been made for the first time in the history of the W:O:A. We are very sad, but unfortunately the persistently difficult weather conditions leave us no other choice.”

According to SRF, police say that around 50,000 people had gained admission to the 85,000-cap festival before the ban on additional visitors was imposed. The expanded four-day event sold out in a record six hours when tickets went on sale for its 2023 event last year.

“Despite all our efforts, we had to announce the final admission stop for Wacken Open Air 2023 early this morning, caused by the ongoing weather situation and the effect on the festival grounds,” elaborates ICS in a message to fans on Instagram.

“All ticket holders who were unable to enter the festival will receive a full refund of the ticket price”

“All ticket holders who were unable to enter the festival will receive a full refund of the ticket price,” it continues. “Information regarding all further available products will follow as soon as we get them. Full information about the refund process – including when fans can expect to receive funds – will be sent to you shortly.

“We know that many of you have made huge efforts to attend Wacken 2023 and went on a long journey to come to the festival. We wanted nothing more than to celebrate with every single one of you 85,000 metalheads here on our holy ground. But in the ongoing challenging conditions, we have reached the maximum number of visitors we are able to accommodate this year.”

Organisers say they will “do our best to deliver a full programme” for those who made it through the gates, with acts such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Dropkick Murphys, Wardruna, Beartooth, Ensiferum, Pentagram, Jinjer, Nervosa, Deicide, Burning Witches and Two Steps From Hell lined up to perform.

Today’s opening day is also scheduled to feature a ceremony for the late Lemmy, led by Motörhead bandmates Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee, which will see the rock legend’s ashes “find a new home in Wacken” as part of the “Lemmy Forever” weekend celebrations.

 


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Rainstorms halt entry for Wacken festivalgoers

Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) organisers have halted entry to the festival as a result of “persistently difficult weather conditions”, just a day before the event is due to begin.

The 32nd edition of the 80,000-cap German metal institution is set to run from 2-5 August with acts such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Dropkick Murphys, Wardruna, Beartooth, Ensiferum, Pentagram, Jinjer, Nervosa, Deicide, Burning Witches and Two Steps From Hell on the bill.

“Bad weather sometimes happens at festivals. Rain or shine. But rarely to this extent,” said yesterday’s (31 July) statement from promoter International Concert Service (ICS), which added that the camping areas were “impassable” and advised fans travelling to the event to stop their journeys and find a suitable waiting spot until conditions improved.

However, the restrictions remain in place a day later, with ticket-holders are asked to “refrain from further journeys to Wacken” and wait for updates amid the “extraordinary situation”.

“We are in constant, cooperative exchange with all relevant authorities and responsible persons in order to continue to ensure the safety of fans, employees and all people in the region,” says the latest message from organisers. “Due to the persistently difficult weather conditions with rainfall amounts of approximately 40 litres per square meter in the last 24 hours, and the resulting condition of the camping areas, event areas and the access roads, the areas could not be filled at a sufficient speed.

“Unfortunately, according to the meteorologists present on site, massive rain and possible thunderstorms are still to be expected at any time and on a continuing basis”

“Unfortunately, according to the meteorologists present on site, massive rain and possible thunderstorms are still to be expected at any time and on a continuing basis. Currently, we are working off the vehicles that are still temporarily parked in traffic jams or on external and private areas. We have to tow each vehicle individually to the targeted parking space with a tractor, which takes a lot of time for every single vehicle. All tractors are in continuous use day and night on all areas.

“We decide from hour to hour and ask for your understanding for this extremely difficult situation. You support us the most if you stay at home now.”

Superstruct Entertainment added W:O:A to its stable of European festivals in 2019 after investing in Germany’s ICS. The expanded four-day festival sold out in a record six hours when tickets went on sale for its 2023 event last year.

Tomorrow’s opening day is scheduled to feature a ceremony for the late Lemmy, led by Motörhead bandmates Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee, which will see the rock legend’s ashes “find a new home in Wacken” as part of the “Lemmy Forever” weekend celebrations.

 


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India’s biggest metal fest sells out for first time

India’s biggest metal festival Bangalore Open Air has sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.

“This will go down in the history books,” says Bangalore Open Air founder, Salman U Syed. “A heavy metal festival in Bangalore, India, is sold out. Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience.”

The 3,000-capacity event, which is produced in partnership with Germany’s marquee metal festival Wacken Open Air, will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary.

“Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience”

Mayhem, Pestilence, Kryptos, Godless, Born of Osiris, Dying Embrace and Amorphia are among the acts lined up for the 1 April event at Royal Orchid Resorts at Yelahanka. Tickets start from ₹30,499 (€341).

In the past, the festival has hosted The Wacken Metal Battle’s Indian leg, with the winning band getting an opportunity to play at the German flagship festival, promoted by Superstuct Entertainment-backed International Concert Service (ICS).

The sell-out Bangalore Open Air comes soon after the inaugural Lollapalooza India drew 60,000 fans over two days.

 


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Perfect partnerships: 2022’s innovative activations

Sponsorship is a key revenue stream for festivals, whilst music and arts events are excellent ways for companies and charities to expose their messages to receptive audiences. In an excerpt from IQ and Yourope’s European Festival Report, we profile some of the most innovative partnerships in 2022.

Roskilde: Culturography
Commercial partnerships are key for most festivals, with many companies eager to benefit from the association with a festival brand and access to its audience. However, it’s important to create an activation that not only aligns with the company’s goals but matches the audience’s expectations without damaging the event’s reputation.

But how do you ensure your partnership brand is met with approval by festivalgoers? How do you know the partner you’re working with won’t be viewed negatively by them? And even if they are receptive to your brand/message, how do you calculate the success of the activation when the measurements of success are not as sophisticated as they could be.

Well, thanks to a new big data collaboration with Aalborg University’s techno-anthropologists (yes, they do exist), Roskilde festival in Denmark might have solved these issues.

Together they have created a new online open-source platform called Culturography, which enables organisations to understand and visualise how their target group – and the broader public – engages in different aspects of societal issues online.

Roskilde’s online tool analyses social media posts from fans and the public that show where interests of different groups of people overlap

The online tool analyses social media posts from fans and the public that show where interests of different groups of people overlap. This use of big data enables festivals to understand whether a brand and its activities are a good fit.

“Every time we engage in a commercial partnership, there are three basic steps that we go through. There’s finding the partnership, signing the partnership, and then monetising it. This method was very helpful for all three,” says Roskilde’s head of partnerships, Andreas Groth Clausen.

“Normally, when I present the idea of a partnership with Roskilde Festival to a company, it’s just me, and I’m hoping that the person I’m talking to is a fan of a particular festival or can see the idea. With this digital database, we can actually tell them what our audience is interested in. We can show them our fans are really engaged with some of their competitors, but they’re not interacting with them. So, the starting point changed significantly when we introduced these visualisations to our partners.”

The tool also helps the festival and the brand design an activation onsite that hits the appropriate demographics, by identifying the key touchpoints certain groups are interested in. This minimises the risk of running an activation that doesn’t chime with festival-goers.

As a non-profit organisation, Roskilde festival is making the software available to everyone. But there’s still some development required – currently the data is interpreted by experts from the university, whilst the goal is to develop the software further so that it removes this requirement.

“Trasholution” incentivises people to pick up litter by gamifying the process

“That’s the last challenge for us – to build a tool that’s just plug-and-play for everybody. As good as it is right now, it’s still a work in progress, but we can make it even better. We are going to do that in the years to come,” says Groth Clausen.

FKP Scorpio: Trasholution
FKP Scorpio festivals Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, and M’era Luna launched a new concept for waste management in summer ‘22. “Trasholution” incentivises people to pick up litter by gamifying the process – and it was used to benefit social causes, too. Every full rubbish bag was counted by the festival and triggered a donation of €1 to social projects in the region of each festival. This was live-tracked and visible for all festivalgoers, further motivating them to hand in their rubbish. As soon as a donation goal was achieved, the German company launched the counter for the next one.

“This is so important because if the festival waste is separated cleanly, its recyclable materials can be sorted out much better and returned to the material cycle,” says FKP Scorpio managing director Stephan Thanscheidt. “So, we’re achieving two good things with one concept: donations for social causes, as well as more sustainability.”

Flow and Polestar
As one of the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals, Finland’s Flow fest is renowned for its environmentally friendly credentials. So, it was especially important for them to work with brands that shared its ethos.

Polestar’s commitment to bring 100% electric premium car products to the world, led them to partner with the Superstruct Entertainment-owned event to bring their brand statements to Flow’s highly eco-conscious fan community.

With a campaign aimed at building brand awareness and affinity in Finland, Polestar gave selected ticket holders exclusive drives to the festival as well as pairing with Tiilikello venue for an exclusive art installation, matching both the festival and brand’s minimalist image.

At Latitude and Wilderness, professional Bacardí mixologists offered cocktail-making classes for attendees

Live Nation and Bacardí
With 2022 being the first full year back after the pandemic, Bacardí partnered with Live Nation in the UK to join the celebrations for the return of festivals, signing a multi-year deal to be the official spirit partner across ten events.

A drinks brand could be considered an expected sponsor for a festival, which was exactly what inspired Bacardí to create spectacular spaces full of thoughtful surprises and touches.

The partners created physical spaces that became destinations in their own right at festivals. Each was tailored to the festival audience’s tastes and preferences, such as Casa Bacardí (at Reading, Parklife, and Wireless), a two-story dance destination programmed with world-renowned DJs and premium rum cocktails; or Haçienda Patrón (at Wilderness and Latitude), a Tulum-inspired space.

Bacardí also used its spaces creatively by inviting fans to experience its brands in new ways. At Latitude and Wilderness, professional Bacardí mixologists offered cocktail-making classes for attendees. Bacardí also programmed established and up-and-coming DJs at Casa Bacardí to support its Music Liberates Music initiative, an ongoing programme designed to champion underrepresented voices in the music industry.

The results reached 3m in-person attendees and 10m followers on social media.

Jay Williamson, VP of marketing partnerships for Live Nation UK, said: “The Bacardí team truly understands how live music is one of the rare things that can bring people together, and the opportunity to work with them this summer on creating lifelong memories for fans was an incredible privilege.”

Wacken Open Air partnered with brewery Krombacher to put together a band made up of rare native species under threat

Wacken Open Air and Krombacher: Growling Creatures
Have you ever heard an endangered animal sing metal? Well, now’s your chance. This year, German festival Wacken Open Air partnered with brewery Krombacher to put together a band made up of rare native species that are under threat: Growling Creatures.

To raise awareness of the plight of these animals, three songs featuring the calls of a variety of animals were released by the ‘group.’ Nest Destroyer included the sounds of the cuckoo and grey shrike over a melodic death metal tune. The brown hare and lynx contributed to metalcore banger Furry Inferno. And the female bison and grey seal joined together for death metal song Small Number Of The Beast.

The songs were released on Spotify and videos were posted on YouTube and social channels, as well as running on stage screens between bands. Band T-shirts were also sold.

All proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) of Germany.

“The audience response as well as the media was very positive,” says festival spokesman Peter Klapproth. “All three songs were professional produced and went down well in the metal scene. The campaign created a reach of over 8m, which made the whole cooperation very successful for all parties involved and most importantly created the awareness for the endangered species.”

The partnership was such a success that plans are already in place to continue it next year.

Emerging artist Madalena Pequito ran a workshop of festivalgoers that positioned art as a pillar for sustainability

MEO Kalorama and Underdogs
While audiences filled their ears with music from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Arctic Monkeys, and Disclosure, new Portuguese festival MEO Kalorama also filled their eyes with art, thanks to a partnership with Lisbon-based cultural platform Underdogs.

Promoter Last Tour invited the art organisation to undertake three different initiatives that involved several people from the Underdogs’ diverse roster of Portuguese and international artists.

The first part of this collaboration was a large-scale intervention by Portuguese visual artist AkaCorleone called Temple of Sound, which saw the entire main stage decorated with work, as part of his ongoing Temple of Light project.

Elsewhere, an art gallery was built dedicated to displaying over 30 exclusive Underdogs artworks by a diversity of artists, including Felipe Pantone, Okuda San Miguel, Tamara Alves, Vhils, Wasted Rita, and many others.

And sustainability was a key theme for the third intervention – emerging artist Madalena Pequito ran a workshop of festivalgoers that positioned art as a pillar for sustainability. She invited the audience to illustrate the 17 sustainable development goals established by the United Nations.

Jazz in the Park bought six GoPro cameras, which festivalgoers borrowed for 45 minutes at a time to record their experience

Jazz in the Park and Mega Image
Most people who work on festivals never get to experience it as audiences do. But for its 10th anniversary in 2022, Romanian festival Jazz in the Park set about changing that. Thanks to a partnership with supermarket Mega Image, the festival bought six GoPro cameras and set-up a station that saw people borrow a camera for 45 minutes at a time and record their experience. The 180 people shot 96 hours of footage, which was edited into a “People’s Aftermovie,” which was released on social media.

“We were a bit nervous about people’s response[s] to being invited to film,” admits festival founder and manager Alin Vaida. “But the cameras were used almost all the time. People love the opportunity to just fool around and film their family, their preferred concerts, and so on. After the first day, people started asking about where they could get the cameras, and there was a good level of interest in the activation.”

The resulting film is unlike any traditional marketing movie, showing the event in a truly authentic manner, as even some of the ‘less desirable’ elements of the event, (such as the poor weather on the first two days) were included.

Communications manager Sergiu Topan says when the first draft arrived from the editor, he ran into Vaida’s office and shouted “It’s great!”

Vaida adds: “We are a relatively small office, and it’s usually quite noisy. But when the team got the video, there was just seven minutes of total silence. People were trying to be poker-faced about it, but I could see some of them wiping away tears. It was amazing. Watching the film was the first proof in 10 or 11 months or more that we had done something brilliant.”

He says sponsor Mega Image’s response was “really good.” So much so that there are now plans to increase the budget next year so they can buy more GoPros and have more people involved. “The word-of-mouth regarding the brand activation was excellent, too,” he adds.

EXIT’s fortress walls were painted with words of emotional and psychological support

EXIT and mental health
With global events such as the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the war in Ukraine continuing to impact people’s lives, organisers of EXIT Festival in Serbia had a special focus on mental health at the 2022 edition.

The walls of the festival site’s fortress were painted with words of emotional and psychological support, while the messages were also presented on the screens of the big stages.

Many people have encountered anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, and other related difficulties in the past two years. This is why the festival further strengthened its relationship with Novi Sad-based suicide prevention and mental health support organisation Srce Centre. The festival has worked with the centre for years, and this year the partnership was extended to bring more mental support locations to the fortress, namely at the Foodland, the OPENS State of EXIT zone, and in the EXIT camp.

And it’s not only the audience that could get help. EXIT says it is the only organisation in the music industry with two mental health experts on the team throughout the year. Over the course of the festival, other psychologists and psychotherapists were onsite to support the backstage teams and performers whenever needed.

The Power Hour sees attendees gather at Defqon.1’s main stage for 60 minutes of DJs mixing high-energy tunes

Defqon.1 and Red Bull
One of the key moments during Dutch hardstyle festival Defqon.1 is the Power Hour – which sees attendees gather at the main stage for 60 minutes of DJs mixing high-energy tunes with lightning transitions – it’s an intense moment that sees the audience go crazy.

Festival organiser Q-dance (a brand of Superstruct Entertainment-owned ID&T) partnered with Red Bull to make this year’s Power Hour truly something to remember. Opening with Red Bull athlete Bicho Carrera, it featured an aerial display that included multiple Red Bull assets such as an aerobatic flight and the helicopter from The Flying Bulls.

During the left-to-right moment, which sees the whole crowd dancing from side to side, the Red Bull helicopter joined in, hovering from left to right, too. Additional activation included special Power Hour-branded Red Bull four-packs, which were sold onsite and in the campsites and included an illuminated LED cup.

This moment was captured in video and generated significant reach and viewership over digital platforms on both Red Bull and Defqon.1 channels.

“We had almost 4m (organic) total online reach and counting,” says Q-dance brand partnerships manager Jack van Mourik. “When answering the question ‘How would you rate the Red Bull show moments during Power Hour?’ the average score was an 8.59 out of 10 in our Defqon.1 survey and was experienced as ‘very positive.’”

At Ab geht die Lutzi Festival and Rocken am Brocken, a small PENNY.Festivals Kiosk was set-up

Many festivals and PENNY
For many years, German supermarket brand PENNY has supported the German festival scene – most prominently with its sponsorship of Parookaville. But for the return after Covid, it wanted to expand its help. So multifaceted festivals platform Höme used a survey of 37,000 festivalgoers to find out how the 2,150-store company could offer the best support. What they discovered led them to develop a broad range of activations across multiple festivals under a new sub-brand, PENNY.Festivals.

Alongside its activations with Parookaville, which include two big stores, the DJ-Tower with its legendary pre-party on Thursday and up to 20,000 visitors, the brand ran smaller and different modules at 16 festivals.

Among the activations were the PENNY.Festivals Shuttle, which saw festivalgoers at Burning Beach and Happiness Festival able to leave the festival site free of charge, drive to the nearest PENNY branch, and stock up on food and essentials. At other events, such as Ab geht die Lutzi Festival and Rocken am Brocken, the smaller PENNY.Festivals Kiosk was set-up; while elsewhere the PENNY.Festivals Food For Good Foodtruck offered vegetarian and vegan food. A number of festivals had digital partnerships.

And it wasn’t just audiences that benefitted from the support. PENNY also supported November 2022 conference Festival Playground, which brought together 150 different festivals of different sizes and genres.

“With this new concept, PENNY is once again strengthening its position as a reliable partner and supporter of the German festival industry,” says Höme’s Laura Pfeiffer.

“The response from the audience was great. For example, the Kiosk was always almost completely sold out after the first day (even though we ordered more than twice as much from the first to the second time). PENNY saw recognition at a huge variety of events. Our Instagram channel reached 10,000 followers within seven months. Festival attendees, especially from smaller festivals, are always happy to find our services at these events because it’s unusual to find big brands like PENNY there.”

Pfeiffer says this new approach is part of a three-year plan with the brand. “The first year was all about testing. Next year is all about improvements and taking the learnings from the first year to another level. Last but not least, the issue of scalability and the long-term implementation should also not be ignored.”

Read the European Festival Report in full below.

 


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