Werchter Sets New Benchmarks

Widely regarded as one of the top festivals in Europe and probably anywhere else on the planet, Belgium’s Rock Werchter smashed its own records and will probably go down as one of the best of the event’s 38-year history.

It’s hardly surprising that Werchter gets its highest praise from the acts themselves, as they’ve previously voted it “artists’ favourite” European festival. This year Live Nation promoter Herman Schueremans’ famous outdoor set new benchmarks for the numbers of acts it presented and the size of the crowd they attracted.

“You run an awesome festival,” said a tweet from U.S. rock act Garbage, while UK rockers Kasabian described it as “a fucking amazing gig.”

Brit dance act Chase & Status was also big on the superlatives in another tweet that said, “No contest – best backstage, best catering and best vibe – always a pleasure.”

The festival welcomed 139,000 unique visitors June 28 to July 1, with 85,000 on site at any given time. About 67,000 bought four-day tickets, which sold out three months in advance, while each day’s ration of 18,000 one-day tickets was gone with more than a month to spare.

Although that breaks the festival’s attendance record because the capacity has been upped by around 3,000 per day, visitors had even more space because another 2.2-hectare field has been added to the site.

It’s also allowed space for a third stage known as The Barn, an indoor venue on an outdoor site, which also proved a huge success with the Werchter crowd.

Schueremans, who has always tried to cap the festival’s carbon footprint by encouraging people not to drive to the site, was delighted that Flemish transport company De Lijn brought in 115,000 of them.

“We cannot change the world but hopefully we can improve the environment for people coming to Werchter,” Schueremans told Pollstar. “In this economic climate we must do everything we can to improve the value of our festivals.”

More than 62,500 people stayed at the campsite, which is 7,500 per night more than last year.

Asked if this was his best ever Rock Werchter, Schueremans said it was so hard to say, “but I’m certainly delighted with the feedback that came from the crowd.”

The event also hammered home its reputation as an international gathering. About 20 percent of the crowd was from The Netherlands and there were also strong contingents from the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Australia, Switzerland and Italy.

There were also 437 visitors from Iceland, which amounts to about 0.15 percent of the North Atlantic island’s total population.

All of them would have felt at home at some point as the weather was hot, cloudy and very humid, with a snow shower thrown in for those who’d come from colder climates.

The other acts keeping Rock Werchter at the top of the pile included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, The Cure, Snow Patrol, Mumford & Sons, Skrillex, Blink-182, Deadmau5, Jack White, Lana Del Rey, Elbow, Rise Against, dEUS, Florence & The Machine and Cypress Hill.