Hultsfred Threw In The Towel

The company behind Sweden’s bankrupt Hultsfred Festival had to throw in the towel two days before what would have been its 25th anniversary because ticket sales were 8,000 short of the break-even mark.

Rockparty chairman Tony Bohlin told Pollstar that going ahead with the event could have put the company in court for continuing to trade while insolvent.

“We had sold 5,000 tickets but we needed to do 13,000,” he said, explaining how this year’s special milestone event was forced to run on a much-reduced budget.

The July 7-9 lineup would have included Scissor Sisters, Deftones, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Ting Tings, Killswitch Engage and top Swedish acts including The Hives, Kent and The Ark.

Most of the $3.5 million cash boost Hultsfred received from the local authority in December was used to settle accumulated debt built up over previous years. In 2006 poor ticket sales led to the festival dropping more than $1 million and last year another poor attendance and the increasing strength of the dollar meant it took a similar hit.

The 32,000-capacity event has been one of the country’s most prestigious outdoors, but competing for top talent has drained its finances.

Although this year’s break-even point meant selling 13,000 tickets, previous Hultsfreds were worked on a budget that needed a crowd of 22,000.

Last year Rockparty slashed the full-time staff to five (it once employed 25) and the number of full-time summer seasonal workers was cut from 50 to fewer than 25.

They’re now all out of their jobs. If they’re owed any money, it’s in the hands of the official receiver at Glimstedt, one of Sweden’s large commercial law firms.

Fans who bought tickets were offered the chance to exchange them for tickets for Sweden’s Rock Weekend in Söderhamn, which ran July 8-10, or wait for news of what Glimstedt is able to do about refunds.

Bohlin expects the receiver will have Rockparty wound up by the end of September. He believes another factor in Hultsfred’s demise is the increased competition from younger festivals like Peace & Love, Way Out West and Popaganda, which are all near big cities and more readily accessible.

Hultsfred’s disappearance from the European festival calendar will be mourned among agents and other festival promoters.
“It’s a great sadness that Hultsfred doesn’t exist anymore. They are one of our founding members,” said Christopher Huber of Yourope, the European festivals’ association. “It was always a brand which stood for quality and creativity. I think that Hultsfred suffered a lot because it could never really recover from when it first started to struggle.”