So much for saving the European Summer Festival Season. Tomorrowland just dropped the news we all feared but expected. Despite all of their efforts, Tomorrowland 2021 cannot move forward after the Mayors of Boom and Rumst denied the festival’s permits.
After the permit denial delivered a gut-punch to the legendary festival, we all knew the options were limited. This is a very sad turn of events after it appeared that Europe would see its Summer festivals take place this year. With this news dropping, now fears are increasing that a similar fate awaits other European festivals scheduled to take place. There are rumors swirling around ABGT450 in London, ASOT1000 in Utrecht, and Drumcode Malta.
Tomorrowland will be reaching out to ticket buyers individually with next steps. Thankfully we can feel confident that we will all reunite at Tomorrowland in 2022. The full statement is below. It includes a few interesting nuggets, including the fact that the 2021 editions would have been restricted to Europeans only and that the 2nd weekend would feature different closing times to accommodate the school children.
In recent months, hopes for a great summer grew steadily. As the coronavirus numbers went down, relaxations of the restrictions were gradually announced, the vaccination strategy reached cruising speed, the Digital Covid Certificate and the Covid Safety Ticket were introduced, with the summer holidays just around the corner.
Given the Federal and Flemish governments’ positive framework in April & May, creating the possibility to organise festivals from the 2nd half of August onwards, we were in the starting blocks to hold the 16th edition of Tomorrowland at De Schorre. Finally, after three cancelled festivals – Tomorrowland Winter 2020, Tomorrowland Belgium 2020, Tomorrowland Winter 2021 – we would be able to welcome the People of Tomorrow to Belgium again after two years, albeit under strict conditions and with a limited number of nationalities.
Until Thursday, June 17: the local authorities declined to issue a permit to hold the festival in 2021. The decision made by the mayors of Boom and Rumst came as a complete surprise. The Federal and Flemish governments had already given the green light and many crucial services, including the fire department, medical and emergency planning services, had also given a positive recommendation. The reasons cited were not insurmountable and could be solved in practice. The missing Ministerial Decree, officially allowing events with up to 75,000 visitors per day, has now been published in the meantime. A cooperation agreement has been reached, allowing private security to unburden the police concerning ID checks for the Covid Safety Ticket.
We did not take things lightly when applying for our permit and substantiating our case. In the past months we have contacted and talked extensively to authorities, experts in various disciplines, our own Covid team and all possible official bodies.
– We wanted to use the Covid Safety Ticket, allowing only visitors who have been fully vaccinated (+2 weeks). Only Belgians visiting for one day would have the possibility to enter with a negative PCR test.
– In 2021 we would only allow visitors from Europe, not from the entire world.
– This year, Tomorrowland would be less international and the freed-up international tickets would mostly be available to the many Belgians on the waiting list; as such, about 75% Belgians and 25% Europeans would be present and most of the Europeans would come from neighbouring countries.
– Tickets for visitors from countries where the numbers would worsen in the next two months, would still be cancelled.
– In the second weekend (September 3, 4, 5) we wanted to change the closing time on certain days, because of the start of the school year, and we also wanted to take some additional mobility measures.
– We were willing to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our festival-goers, artists, staff and neighbours.
– We have repeatedly indicated that we would always assess and anticipate the epidemiological situation, because a festival under safe conditions is our priority.
In spite of the detailed plans we have presented, the studies conducted by us and the massive support and recommendations we have received, we have no other option but to postpone the 16th edition of Tomorrowland until next year.
In the past week we again focused on a constructive dialogue, because we remain convinced that we can organise a safe Tomorrowland. All technical and organisational matters had been given the green light, in order to file a new application with the municipalities. However, particularly the absence of a balanced virological advice in keeping with our tight organisational framework is the reason why a new application is pointless at this stage.
Considering our longstanding cooperation with the municipalities, we do not want to engage in a legal battle and we do not want to appeal the mayors’ decision with the Council of State. We respect the mayors’ good governance, as well as our neighbours in the municipalities of Boom and Rumst.
It is gut-wrenching to cancel a festival for the fourth time and again disappoint all the passionate people who work on the festival day and night.
It is a huge financial blow for us as an organisation to lose our annual turnover almost entirely for the second year in a row, but also for the suppliers, freelancers, artists and associations involved who always contribute passionately to Tomorrowland.
Today, with a heavy heart, more than 50 million euros worth of orders with dozens of loyal Belgian suppliers were cancelled. In addition, this is another setback for the travel and hotel industries in Belgium; over a period of 2 weeks during the festival, more than 80% of the Brussels and Antwerp hotel capacities are used by visitors, artists and crews.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped us with advice and support in the past months.
We wish all organisers of festivals in Belgium & our neighbouring countries an awesome late summer season!
The Provincial Recreation Park De Schorre is a magical place. It is a park we want to continue investing in for the coming years and we want to show the world how beautiful Tomorrowland can be. We look to the future with a positive and open mindset and will bring The Reflection of Love to De Schorre in 2022.