Around 75,000 people attended various festivals in Belgium this weekend, which took place without restrictions such as social distancing and wearing face masks.
All events required attendees to show a Covid Safe Ticket as proof of vaccination, a recent recovery from the coronavirus or a negative test. For many festival-goers, it was the first time they experienced a large-scale gathering similar to those organised before the crisis hit.
“We noticed a lot of gratitude from our festival-goers. There is obviously a great deal of relief for all those who have been waiting for this,” said Bernard De Riemacker, spokesperson for the Alcatraz festival in Kortrijk.
The 13th edition of the metal festival attracted some 31,000 festival-goers, all of whom knew what the rules were to enter the festival terrain, according to De Riemacker.
“We also noticed that the majority of festival-goers were fully vaccinated. In total, we only had to carry out a thousand tests. Of these, only three people tested positive,” he said.
More than 25,000 people flocked to Perk in Flanders to attend the sixth edition of the three-day Paradise City festival, an underground and electro music event on the grounds of Ribaucourt Castle.
The festival welcomed around 7,500 festival-goers on Friday, 10,000 on Saturday (which was sold out), and 8,000 on Sunday, according to the organisers.
Meanwhile, around 1,200 antigen tests were carried out in the “Test Village” set up at the entrance on Friday. Six people tested positive ahead of the event, and were not allowed to enter the festival, nor were the people accompanying them, who were considered contact cases.
“No one from the campsite tested positive even though they partied for three days. The campsite was full with 2,500 people. More than 60% of them were double vaccinated. On Sunday we had to retest all the people on the campsite who had not been vaccinated,” said Gilles De Decker, co-founder of the Paradise City festival.
“They were tested negative on Friday and they were tested negative again on Sunday,” he added.
Meanwhile, the last Wecandance festival weekend took place in Zeebrugge. The festival was allowed to welcome a total of 17,000 attendees as it was spread across seven days over three weekends.
The first festival day at the end of July was cancelled due to heavy storms, however, this weekend the festival was able to take place in the sun.
In Mons, Wallonia, the Covid-safe edition of the Ronquières Festival welcomed around 40,000 festival-goers on Saturday and Sunday.
The stages located at the foot of the Sloping Lock of Ronquières hosted the Italian band Mäneskin, Romeo Elvis, Pomme, and Woodkid.
“We welcomed 20,000 festival-goers on Saturday and about 18,000 on Sunday,” said Gino Innocente, organiser of the Ronquières Festival.
“We felt a real desire on the part of our public to return to the atmosphere of before the health crisis. We felt that there was a light at the end of the tunnel,” Innocente added.
Targeted festival vaccination
As more events are expected to take place in the coming weeks, the city of Antwerp has announced it will be organising two extra vaccination opportunities this week specifically targeting over-18s to get vaccinated with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
This means that they can attend two festivals in early September, as they will be fully vaccinated for two weeks by then.
By doing so, the city, where three in four people over the age of 18 are now fully vaccinated, hopes to further increase the number of vaccinated people.