Friday 04 December 2020

Music, food and film: the Dutch festival calendar is overflowing

The Vondelpark festival in Amsterdam

People in the Netherlands could last year attend a total of 1,340 different food, dance and film festivals, according to the Festival Atlas 2016, compiled by Amsterdam’s hbo college Hogeschool van Amsterdam.

The atlas illustrates how crowded the festival calendar is, and how hard it is to find a place in people’s busy diaries.

Of the total, 153 were food festivals and 70 took place for the first time last year, the compilers say. But four in five food festivals don’t last longer than three years and just 3% have been going for more than 10.

There were 1,070 music events, of which 118 took place for the first time in 2016 and 117 film festivals, 18 of which were new.

Despite the boom in festivals, many of them don’t survive to a second year. Over 25% of the festivals held for the first time in 2015 did not make it to a follow-up edition.

While some small festivals are struggling, the big events are also finding it more difficult to sell out. There were still tickets available for this weekend’s PinkPop event. Some 10% of the tickets were unsold for last summer’s massive Lowlands event, prompting the organisers to pledge a new look event this year.

‘The festival landscape can be compared with a very busy high street,’ HvA lecturer and atlas compiler Harry van Vliet told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘Just like shops, some festivals have to pull out the stops to attract clients successfully.’

In particular, Van Vliet said, organisers could do more to attract people in their 50s and 60s who still attend festivals and have lots of money to spend.

Marten de Paepe, who worked for the Amsterdam Woods pop festival, which took place in 2015 and 2016 but will not be held this year said: ‘It is extremely difficult to get a new festival off the ground. The competition is killing.’

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