Blowing In The Wind

There have been so many instances of freak weather and strong winds that festivals need to be doubly sure they use the safest possible structures and that they have good contingency plans in place, according to Nick Hobbs of Istanbul-based Charmenko.

Hobbs, whose company acts as a consultant and books international talent for more than two dozen European festivals, says he’s no crowd safety expert and is only stating the obvious when saying the sharp rise in weather-caused accidents means there’s no room for complacency.

So far the current festival season has led to the death of one music fan and injuries to several others when the wind lifted a tent that fell on the crowd at Slovenia’s Pohoda Festival.

Kings Of Leon pulled its July 19 headline slot at Spain’s Benicassim Festival after high winds whipped through the festival site and camping area. Greece’s Rockwave Festival lost two days due to violent storms, and high winds meant video screens at Italia Wave Festival had to be taken down.

“I’m not a production manager nor an expert on crowd safety so of course my comments are not meant to sideline advice from people who are more expert than me,” Hobbs explained. “At some point, something really nasty will happen, and it might happen anywhere to any festival.”

He said global warming appears to mean more storms, and a lot of stage and tent designs don’t seem to be up to a sufficient specification for extreme weather.

At a certain level of wind, Hobbs doesn’t believe any temporary coverings on Earth are completely safe.