Beer, Waffles And Funny Accents

It’s still all beer and waffles but there are more people with funny accents is how Dour Festival marketing manager Sophie Chevalier describes the changes that have come as the 20-year-old event has suddenly blossomed toward becoming a major European outdoor.

Although selling out its new 36,000 per day capacity a week in advance – a festival record – leaves it a long way short of Denmark’s Roskilde, Germany’s Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park and Belgium’s own Rock Werchter in terms of size, its claims of being a truly "European" festival are backed by the fact that more than a third of the tickets are bought abroad.

More than 32,000 of the audience – nearly 90 percent of it – stayed at the festival campsite, which had to be opened a day before schedule because 23,000 of them turned up early.

The festival has always attracted foreign visitors but the numbers have accelerated so much in the last two or three years that its marketing department decided on a re-branding strategy.

Instead of being "The Belgian Alternative Music Event," Dour got itself a new slogan that proclaims it as "The European Alternative Music Event."

The new setup on the site, which is just outside the village of Dour and midway between Brussels and the northern French town of Lille, has allowed for expansion without the event becoming crowded but – after this year’s success – the organisers may have to look at changing the configuration to cope with even further growth.

The acts entertaining the European festival crowd at this year’s event (July 12-15) included Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Wilco, Wu-Tang Clan, Beenie Man, The Rapture, Goose, Bright Eyes, Gabriel Rios, Two Gallants, Sizzla and Wheat.