Music festivals, especially those in Europe, face a security crisis.
In the wake of deadly terrorist attacks that have left Europeans in a state of distress and governments struggling to reinforce security measures for the protection of their citizens, organizers of the popular Wacken Open Air rock festival, the largest heavy metal festival in the world, have announced that they will not allow backpacks nor any other kinds of bags in the festival that will run from August 4 to 6. Coming on the heels of Sunday’s suicide bombing attack, where a Syrian bomber injured 15 people in Ansbach, Germany, but thankfully caused no other fatalities, founder Thomas Jensen said:
“We update our security plan constantly, counting in recent events such as bad weather or the security situation in Germany. Because of that our staff knows what to do and is well prepared. Due to the recent events we decided that backpacks and all kind of bags are no longer allowed on the festival grounds.”
The Wacken Open Air festival was first launched in 1990 as a small event for local German fans. This event has grown into a music festival which takes place in the small village of Wacken in Schleswig-Holstein in norther Germany. Over the past several years, this event has held big-name bands and artists like Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, and Twisted Sister.
Wacken Open Air founders expect roughly 80,000 visitors this year. Speaking to international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) about ensuring security at the event, Thomas Jensen added:
“Our fans are the most important thing to consider. They’re seen by everybody – the authorities, the police and medical services – as our guests, and there is a strong emotional connection. What we want the most is for them to get here safely and enjoy a great, safe festival.”
Safety and communication are the key word used by Jensen. Jensen also talked about the Nice, Paris attack, which will certainly be fresh in the minds of all Wacken Open Air visitors. On July 14th, a terrorist in Nice, France, got behind the wheel of a lorry and plowed through a crowd of people, killing at least 84 people who had just finished watching the Bastille Day fireworks.
Wacken Open Air Festival image by Darren Foreman, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).