Smaller festivals aimed at local audiences might take place in 2021, former Sziget Festival owner and organizer Gerendai Károly told Forbes Hungary. When it comes to major events with an international audience, the ability to plan ahead is vital. With no possibility to predict what could happen until next summer, it’s too risky to even consider a major event with a budget like Sziget.
“In the case of these events, it’s important to know about the attendance and how much you can spend. Until now, it depended on the early ticket sales how much we can make this plannable,” Gerendai said. “This year, we can’t even start the early ticket sale, and it won’t be worth beginning until February or March because nobody knows anything about the summer.
The question is if it’s even worth having a go at an event with a budget of tens of billions under these conditions”. The event might be considered with a delay of early ticket sales until the spring and a smaller budget but even this way, the risk would be high.
Early ticket sales for 2021
Normally, the first early-bird ticket and pass sales for Sziget Festival begin in October. At this time of the year in 2019, the event already sold a third of its passes, while in March, when the public health situation led to the cancellation of the event, more than half of all the passes were sold.
This year, in turn, Sziget can’t even consider starting its early-bird ticket sales until the situation doesn’t become at least a bit more predictable. This, of course, hurts the event’s bottom line. Gerendai, who still retains a 15% ownership of the event, revealed that Sziget has already taken out a 4 million euro loan. He also told Forbes that he already pushed close to 1.4 million euros of his own funds into his businesses which have all felt the effects of the pandemic.
How other festivals are doing
The situation is not quite rosy in the rest of Europe either. Many events are in a situation similar to that of Sziget, with the future being pretty unpredictable. Some of them are, in turn, cautiously optimistic, like Romania’s Electric Castle and Untold.
Lisa Meyer, founder of Birmingham’s Supersonic festival, told the press that the event will return in phases next summer, featuring some in-person and virtual elements. Next year’s edition is planned to be a “transition” between this year’s virtual event and a return to normal in 2022 or 2023.
Madrid’s Mad Cool festival, in turn, has already announced its almost full lineup for 2021, with announcements starting as early as July. This way, the event’s organizer told the press, people will know what to expect and if they should hold on to their passes for next year.
Many events have already announced that they will implement health and security measures ranging from thermal scanners at the gates to their own track-and-trace systems and rapid on-site testing to minimize the risk of spreading the disease.
All things considered, we have a very interesting festival season ahead of us in 2021.