When In Bucharest

It’s not so much being in Bucharest and doing what the Romanians do but making sure that you listen to them, says B’estfest organiser Guido Janssens.

The Emagic Concerts chief said he would have been arrogant to try to start his festival by telling the local authorities, “This is the way we do things in Western Europe.” He preferred to listen and learn about the best way to produce an event in what was once part of the old Eastern bloc.

Now in its third year, which is an established festival by Romanian standards, Janssens feels it’s time to try to attract crowds from outside the country. He is mindful of how successful other mainland European festivals – most noticeably Spain’s Benicassim, Serbia’s Exit and Belgium’s Rock Werchter – have been in growing their British audiences.

To get B’estfest some coverage in the British papers, he’s appointed Nikki Wright from London-based Global Publicity, who has been instrumental in bringing Exit Festival to the attention of U.K. journalists. B’estfest has already drawn praise from NME.

Many of the world’s best known budget airlines now fly direct from London to Bucharest and Janssens believes his four-day event makes a good holiday destination. The national media made B’estfest “The Romanian Tourism Event of 2008.”

It’s also an affordable choice, as earlybird tickets are available for 110 lei ($35) until April 1, when the price goes up to 130 lei ($41).

The festival site doesn’t have a camping area but decent hotel accommodation is available for about £50, and B’estfest now has a “sleepover” scheme that enables visiting fans to make contact and stay with locals.

“Some people have spare rooms or know someone who has one,” Janssens explained, pointing out that visitors from Hungary and Bulgaria have already taken advantage of the “sleepover.” Fans link to their hosts via the festival Web site.

The first two festivals attracted between 15,000 and 16,000 per day; the site could hold 25,000. Janssens is confident of equaling or topping that in 2009, although he’s aware the current economic situation won’t make it easy.

This year’s B’estfest is at Bucharest Romexpo Grounds July 1-4 with a lineup including The Killers, Santana, Thievery Corporation, Iggy & the Stooges, Moby, Motorhead, Franz Ferdinand and The Ting Tings.

Manowar and Holyhell play B’estfest Aftershock, a heavy rock show bolted on to the festival, July 5.