Dour Festival has gone on sale three weeks earlier this year because thousands of people – mostly local Belgians – waited too long to buy a ticket in 2007.
Festival marketing manager Sophie Chevalier estimates the four-day event turned away 15,000 at the door, after many of the tickets went early to credit card buyers from abroad.
"We kept putting out the message that tickets were going fast, but it was as if many of the local people didn’t seem to believe us – it was surreal," Chevalier explained, after the 35,000-capacity event had sold out more than a week in advance.
"Then, after we had sold out, local people were phoning up and saying that they always turn up on the day and buy the ticket when they arrive," she said. "It was as if they thought that they’d still be able to do that, even though we had said that we’d sold out."
In the last few years the 20-year-old event has started to draw more people from outside Belgium.
"About a third come from the French-speaking part of Belgium, another third from the Flemish-speaking part, and the rest are coming mainly from France, Holland, the U.K. – although we’re now also noticing a few more from Germany, Italy and Spain."
Chevalier said the festival won’t be increasing in size and will be sticking with the policy of booking many small to mid-size bands, rather than "expensive headliners that seem to be playing everywhere else as well."
This year’s Dour, July 17-20, will have 200 bands playing across six stages.
The festival bookers are still in negotiation for a lot of bands, but Gogol Bordello, The Raveonettes, The Enemy, Goldfrapp and The (International) Noise Conspiracy are among those already confirmed.