Graspop Moves 300 Yards

Rock fans attending this year’s Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium  aren’t likely to have any problem finding the new site because it’s only 300 yards from the old one.

Festival promoter Peter Van Geel has wanted to make the move for some time, but there’s been local opposition because the new site has been slated for industrial development.

It’s next to an electricity supply station and a handful of factories are getting use of it. This means getting the permission of all the companies on the estate that share the site ownership.

Local mayor Kris Van Dijck has persuaded the power company, one of seven based in and around Dessel, the nuclear centre of Belgium, that allowing the festival to use the land would be a good move because it would help it expand and improve facilities.

Van Dijck also looks to have convinced the landowners that there’s next to no chance of a developer moving in to build more factory units on it in the current economic crisis.

The upside for Van Geel and his festival is that the land set aside for industrial development and the campsite make a 50-acre site and space for him to increase to 50,000 capacity in future years.

The old site, the Boeretang festival park, was also separated from the campsite by a public park and fans were continually streaming across it. As it’s all on one stretch of ground, the new Stenehei festival park saves that trek.

Graspop has been getting much closer to a 40,000-capacity sellout in recent years, largely because of Van Geel’s policy of booking “all the best rock bands that are out there,” and it’s still growing.

Last year’s gathering attracted 135,000 metal fans across three days.

Although Van Geel says “there’s no KISS or Iron Maiden around this year,” and Metallica is playing Rock Werchter for its Belgian festival, Graspop’s ticket sales are on a par with 2008 and may hit the 40,000 ceiling.

Acts on the June 26-28 bill include Motley Crue, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Korn, Nightwish, Heaven And Hell, Volbeat, Papa Roach, Blind Guardian, Anthrax, Soulfly and Lacuna Coil.