The 16th edition of Tomorrowland Belgium will not take place this summer but will instead be moved to 2022, the organisation announced on Wednesday.
After the mayors of Boom and Rumst – where the festival is organised every year – refused Tomorrowland’s application for a permit, and consultations with several ministers led to nothing, the organisation now decided to throw in the towel on this year’s edition.
“Given our long cooperation with the municipalities, we do not want to turn this into a legal battle,” the festival’s organisation said in an official statement.
“Challenging the decision of the mayors at the Council of State is a route we do not want to take,” the statement added. “We respect the mayors’ civic duty, but we also respect our neighbours from the municipalities of Boom and Rumst.”
Last week, the local mayors of Boom and Rumst, Jeroen Baert and Jurgen Callaerts, decided to refuse the permit application for a postponed Tomorrowland edition, which was supposed to take place in August and early September.
For the festival, the mayors’ decision came “like a bolt from the blue,” as the green light had already been given by the federal and Flemish government, and many crucial services such as the fire brigade and medical and emergency planning services.
Another meeting with the mayors and Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden, among others, took place on Monday, but the mayors stuck to their guns.
However, the organisation is “still convinced” that it can organise a safe edition of Tomorrowland. “We did not make the decision overnight when we applied for our licence with well-founded dossiers.”
“Authorities, experts in various fields, our own Covid team and all possible bodies were contacted, set up and spoken to extensively over the past few months,” the organisation said, adding that all technical and organisational issues were in place to submit a new application.
However, the “lack of a balanced and unambiguous virological opinion that fits in with our tight organisational framework” made a new application pointless, according to the festival.
Losing its annual turnover for the second year in a row is a “huge financial blow” to the festival organisation, which also underlined the impact the cancellation will have on Belgium’s travel and hotel sector, as more than 80% of the hotel capacity in Brussels and Antwerp is taken up by visitors, artists and crew for two weeks during the festival.
The two festival weekends that Tomorrowland planned to organise this year were already sold out completely, and those who had a ticket will likely have to wait a while for a possible refund.
However, a lot of people will probably transfer this year’s ticket to 2022, as the organisation already did with the 400,000 tickets bought in January 2020.
However, now that the festival has been cancelled for the second year in a row, the queue for the next edition will be extremely long, spokesperson Debby Wilmsen told local media.
It is not yet clear how the festival is going to solve this, but Wilmsen stressed that every ticket is linked to a Tomorrowland account, and that there will be clear communication via that account.
According to the festival’s announcement, ticketholders “will be contacted personally.”