We’ve come a long way from the time when the only festivals on offer in the Netherlands were Pinkpop and Lowlands. In the past, the area between Biddinghuizen and Landgraaf was a no-man’s land for festival visitors, but over the past few years, fields and pastures throughout the country have been transformed into festival grounds.
Along with the smaller festivals such as Best Kept Secret and Down The Rabbit Hole, festivals abroad are also popular. The popularity of, for example Sziget and Rock Werchter, isn’t because of a lack of festivals in the Netherlands. According to the marketing firm EM-Marketing, there were more than a thousand festivals in the Netherlands in 2015. There’s a good reason for this: this past year, these festivals attracted 26 million visitors and even though the summer festival season is longer and busier than ever, there are no signs that people are experiencing festival fatigue. EM asked students about their plans for the upcoming festival summer season and whether they had any tips to share.
Jack Parker (19), Communication & Media student, has a music website
“As the founder of All Things Loud, my summer will consist of visiting many festivals and photographing the performances of major artists. This year, I mainly plan on visiting the big festivals such as Rock am Ring, Pinkpop, and Lowlands. My decision to go to a festival usually depends on the line-up. Of course, there are people who go for the ambiance, but in the end you really go to listen to music in the open air while exposed to the elements. A few weeks ago, Jan Smeets, the man in charge of Pinkpop, told me there were more than 700 festivals in the Netherlands. I still don’t think that’s too many. It sounds like a lot but when you divide it into genres and music styles, it’s not that excessive. The ticket prices also seem reasonable once you realise that organising a festival like Pinkpop costs about 15 million euro. Allow yourself to be surprised this summer; sometimes it’s the bands you’ve never heard of who give the best performances. And bands such as Radiohead and Muse will be at a lot of festivals: don’t miss them.”
Yara Bakker (19), Communication & Media student
“I’ll be visiting multiple festivals this summer, including the Boom Festival in Portugal. That festival is seven days of ‘psy-trance’, sun and hippies. I also want to go to a festival organised at the former island Ruigoord, a place inhabited mainly by ‘free souls’ who party in a former church. In the coming summer festival season, I’m looking forward to a lot of sun, long nights and new friends. As a volunteer, I was able to attend some major pop festivals last year for free. I find the rising ticket prices ridiculous. The large number of festivals being organised has its pros and cons. There’s a good festival for every music lover, but the competition between festivals is intensifying. One thing never changes: at all the festivals, the camping sites could use some improvement. But instead of complaining, focus on partying!”
Vlad Hatze (24), Communication & Media student, has a record label
“I just got back from the Sunwaves Festival in my home country of Romania. Since I founded the Trick Track Records record label, I regularly go to techno festivals and dance festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. This summer, some of the ones I will attend include Awakenings and the Loveland Festival in Amsterdam. While the Romanian festival business is still in its infancy, there are a lot of similarities with the Netherlands. In the end, it’s all about good music and enjoying yourself. However, Romanian audiences are a bit more reserved – they’re ‘not so on the bad stuff’ – and you get more beer for your money. The rapid growth of the number of festivals in the Netherlands is not a bad thing in itself as it offers more choices for festival goers. What’s nice about festivals is that, unlike in clubs, you can party during the day too. That’s my tip for those of you going to festivals this summer: get to the festival grounds early and enjoy the night and the day.”