Having the most festivals per inhabitant in the world, Belgium’s festival scene is one of the best in the world. For such a small country, it organises the most genre varied big festivals, bringing the most famous artists in the world for the hundreds of thousands of participants to enjoy.
The fame has spread outside its tiny borders, Belgian festivals managing to attract large groups of international visitors. Their diversity ensures everyone can find at least one event they want to attend. “There is Graspop for the head bangers, Rock Werchter for the rockers, Tomorrowland for the dancers and Pukkelpop and Dour for the more experimental music lovers”, says Belga. The most famous artists in the world have played in Belgium, at least once. Only Metallica played for the 7th time at Rock Werchter this year.
And the best part about it is they are really affordable. Considering the impressive line-ups, the price of a festival ticket has a great value for money. Going to an individual concert for each of the artists, just the headliners, would set you back a lot more than the price of a ticket for the entire festival.
Besides diversity, the very well though out organisation is another detail that makes Belgian festivals so popular. Nothing is left to chance and organisers make sure participants always have a great time, not just by enjoying their favourite artists. There is always a large selection of food stands, so you do not have to worry about only eating fries for the entire weekend, there are plenty of sanitary facilities and, if it so happens that the weather is sunny, you can even find sunscreen dispensers.
The sponsors also play a big part in an event’s success and, as they attract so many visitors, Belgian festivals do not lack a fair share of sponsor funding. Brand intelligence company Auxipress conducted a survey that revealed 47% of attendees form a better opinion of a sponsor if they hand out goodies, while 49% have a positive opinion of a sponsor if what they hand out is also practical for the festival, such as gadgets or raincoats. The percentages are even greater among millennials, 62% and 63% for each measure respectively.
Belgian festivals are also a big promoter of sustainability, taking measures to ensure their impact on the environment is as little as possible. The Paradise City Festival has just been declared one of the greenest festivals in the world and all the others are following its model.
For most, if not all, large festivals, the organisers and transport operators in Belgium ensure visitors can easily reach the festival grounds by public transport. Special, free buses run from the closest train station to the event location and, to ensure the people who do not spend the night there can reach home, or their accommodation, additional night trains are introduced, going from the festival to the main cities in Belgium. Sometimes, train tickets (not the night ones) are also included in the festival ticket, to encourage participants to use public transport.
Water fountains are also present, so participants can fill their own water bottles. I imagine this brings quite a loss in sales, especially during summer, but it also hugely reduces plastic waste from buying water bottles. There are recycling bins everywhere and, to further encourage participants to properly dispose of their cups, free large drinks are offered to people who bring in 10-15 empty cups. For some, this is convincing enough to pick up empty cups from the ground, left behind by less attentive visitors, thus helping the cleaning teams along the way.