How worldwide festivals and concerts are inventing new ways to happen?
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, our cultural sector, and especially festivals, have been deeply impacted on several levels. This sanitary crisis resulted in major restrictions regarding crowd, physical proximity and gathering, which are the essence of festivals as we know them. Little by little, festivals have been forced to postpone and, in worst case scenarios, to cancel their edition leading to economic difficulties and uncertainty for the future.
However, we already witnessed how strong and creative we can get towards crisis and how much music is needed to go through dark times. During the first lockdown, a bunch of digital initiatives aroused from scratch with online concerts and festivals, online museum’s visit as well as webinars thanks to digital gathering platform. Festivals managers and producers had to re-think their ways of producing and curating in a digital format that they might never have thought about before.
Unsurprisingly, we are also more and more witnessing and getting inspired by new alternatives for concerts or festivals to happen in-person while taking into account the physical distancing and sanitary measures resulting from this crisis as a way to save our activities and restore our community/audience link.
Here are a few examples:
On 10 June 2020, the Flaming Lips band shared an already existing way to perform live more than relevant in times of Coronavirus pandemic during an appearance on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert #PLayAtHome. As a matter of fact, they played in individuals plastic bubbles, except for the two drummers who shared one giant dome while wearing face masks, in front of a crowd of individuals bubbles in the United States.
The drive-in formula as we already know it for outside movies could also be a solution for live music concerts. Indeed, initiated by Keith Urban and DJ D-Nice in the United States, it confers the audience the physical distancing required due to cars and offering them, at the same time, a live performance experience.
On 11 August 2020, Virgin Money and SSD Concerts organised Sam Fender (British singer/songwriter) live performance in Gosforth Park (United Kingdom) in front of 2500 people respecting physical distancing. You probably wonder how.
Thanks to metallic platform on which groups of maximum five people could attend the show standing up or seated. Workers were guiding each groups to their platform according to a one-way system, food and beverage could be ordered in advance or via an app to reduce the contamination’s risks. Organisers are planning to reiterate the process with other acts lined up in September.
From 10 to 12 July 2020, the Gisburne Park Pop-up (United Kingdom) became the first purpose built socially distanced outdoor festival in the United Kingdom. Spaced-out lounge chairs welcoming a maximum of six people were installed six feet apart from each other in front of the stage. Practical organisation have been set up to avoid people pile, food and drinks were delivered directly to the audience.
Another interesting initiative comes from the Ukrainian band O.Torvald who found an alternative to perform with physical distancing measures. Instead of playing in front of their audience in a regular manner, they played in front of a hotel in which their fans bought, as a group of four person maximum, a room for the night of the show. Through this means, the audience was able to listen to their favorite band on the hotel’s balconies with their own drinks and food. We must precise that the ticket’s cost was not the one of the show but of the hotel room.
Usually used to provide comfort seating and shelter from wind, rain, sand gusts and sunburn on touristic beach seafront resorts, the strandkorb hooded chair seems to have a new utility is the cultural sector. As a matter of fact, it has been used to provide the necessary physical distancing in Germany during the metal player Doro Pesch concert.
The Belgian underground and electro music festival Paradise City Festival also found a way to welcome in-person 800 festival-goers in Ribaucourt castle – Perk in the end of June. By installing twenty-five rafts of eleven square meters each on the lake completed with eight terraces hosting fifteen person on the ground, the organisers guaranteed a physical distancing-friendly outdoor event.
Photo: @paradisecityofficial (https://www.instagram.com/paradisecityofficial/)
[Go green] Porta Ferrada Festival
In 2023, Porta Ferrada Festival prioritised sustainability with reusable cups and funding beach cleaning. Over 24,000 ecological glasses were distributed, embodying their commitment to environmental responsibility and community engagement.
[Go green] Rock for People Festival
In collaboration with Komerční banka, it was created the KB FutureFest 2030 zone at Rock for People, highlighting a sustainable festival vision with solar/hydrogen-powered stages, eco-friendly materials, and discussions on sustainability.
[Go Green] Medieval Festival of Rhodes
The Medieval Rose Festival offers a living history experience, transporting participants to an era with sustainable practices like creative recycling and minimal waste. Emphasising experiential archaeology, the event promotes eco-friendly concepts, from reusable ceramic cups to minimal electricity usage, fostering a connection between medieval lifestyles and contemporary sustainability.