Foreign Investment Helps Outdoor Market

It’s a long way from being the most buoyant outdoor market in the old Eastern Bloc, but there’s evidence that foreign investment is helping the Romanian festival business.

Recent figures published by the 3-year-old B’Estfest, built on Belgian and Dutch expertise and money, claims the 70,000 that attended this year’s five-dayer in Bucharest made it the country’s biggest festival.

It’s 10,000 more than Felsziget Festival has ever pulled. During 2007, when it was a five-day event, its 60,000 crowd averaged 12,000 per day, therefore making B’Estfest’s 2009 average of 14,000 per day also a record. Felsziget is run by the same company as Hungary’s Sziget Festival.

B’estfest is run by Belgian-born promoter Guido Janssens, head of the local Emag!c Entertainment, with some of the financial investment coming from Dutch promoter Leon Ramakers.

This year the maths got a little more complicated, as Felsziget July 23-26, which claims to last three-and-a-half days, pulled 58,000. Even when divided by four, the 14,500 per day it averaged just shaded what B’Esfest did each day on the capital city’s RomExpo site.

Both events are doing similar business, and whichever is ahead seems to depend on how the numbers are crunched.

Last year the Felsziget site at Târgu Mureÿ was hit by heavy rain that turned it into a mudbath and cut the crowd to 40,000.

“The mud and the rain affected the crowd and the atmosphere,” said Felsziget international booker Dan Panaitescu, while the festival Web site reported that some who bought tickets in advance hadn’t bothered to show.

It was the first Felsziget since Sziget Cultural Management Ltd., which also runs Hungary’s Balaton Sound and Volt festivals, sold out to national media giant Econet in a deal that’s potentially worth $30 million over five years. Econet had just made the first payment of about $8 million.

This year the sun shone on the central Romanian city. The international acts at what’s now called Coke Live Peninsula Felsziget included Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Freestylers, Primal Scream, and top Dutch DJ Tiësto.

The B’Estfest lineup included The Killers, Moby, Franz Ferdinand, Santana, Motorhead, White Lies, Klaxons and The Ting Tings.