Global Festival Cool Down Continues—60 Dutch Festivals Canceled This Year Alone

Dutch music festivals shut down data 2023
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Dutch music festivals shut down data 2023
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Photo Credit: Stijn Hanegraaf

The global festival cool down trend is continuing, with new data from the Netherlands suggesting more than 60 Dutch music festivals were canceled this year.

The data suggests festivals with 3,000 attendees or more have been canceled, which is a record when you exclude pandemic years. Music festival cancellations are often followed by replacement music festival announcements, but so far this year only 30 new music festivals have been announced, a loss of 30 festivals as reported by Algemeen Dagblad, a Dutch newspaper.

“The market is under even more pressure,” Lex Kruijver, an event researcher who works with Respons Evenementen, a Dutch event marketing consultant. “The time of the great growth of festivals is over. It has become a fight and survive market.”

That sentiment echoes reports from both Australia and Ireland, where music festival shutdowns have hit hard. Bluefest director Peter Noble called the current live music festival climate an “extinction event” after attendees for his annual Bluefest dropped to nearly half of expected attendance. “Bluefest this year got over 60,000 attendees. What did we get in the great days? We averaged about 85,000. In 2022 we got 102,000,” he told a group at the Variety Live Business Breakfast in Sydney.

Music festivals have struggled to keep pace with inflation after the pandemic. Material shortages have led to high prices, while many festival organizers have complained about regulations—especially in the Netherlands. Festivals like Loveland, Mystic Garden, and Dockyard have spoken out against Amsterdam’s plans to change up how it assigns event space in 2025. These festivals will find out this year if they will be granted space on the calendar for next year—which they say is unworkable when it comes to planning huge events.

Sometimes, cancellation is the only path forward for festival organizers. “For events with ticket sales, the costs and also the permit requirements are reasons to reconsider whether you want to continue,” Willem Westermann of the Association of Event Makers told AD. The rise in ticket prices for multi-day festivals has led to a drop in the number of attendees—which creates a feedback loop of needing to raise prices to account for the lack of people.