B’Estfest In Romania

The second staging of B’Estfest on a greenfield site on the edge of Lake Pasarea appears to have established it at as the region’s leading outdoor, while also giving the market a better grasp of what camping festivals are about.

Neither Romania nor neighbouring Bulgaria has any sort of festival tradition and neither has managed to create an event to rival the successful outdoors in other old Eastern Bloc countries, such as Sziget in Hungary, Heineken Open’er in Poland, Exit in Serbia, Pohoda in Slovakia and Rock For People in Czech Republic.

In Romania and Bulgaria, festivals have largely been more like a series of one-day concerts, without any camping facility or the various activities associated with outdoor events.

B’Estfest now has, among other things, an amusement park for all ages, film screenings, sports areas, playgrounds, relaxation, creative activities, art exhibitions, bazaars, workshops, terraces and all the trappings of a major outdoor.
At a little more than 20,000 per day, around 50 percent up on last year, the crowd figures suggest B’Estfest is at last getting the message through to the market.

“It’s a new thing for Romania but now the fans are getting used to it. Now we can almost sense their excitement as they arrive at the festival,” said Dragos Chiscoci from Emagic, which produces B’Estfest with Leon Ramakers, former head of Live Nation in The Netherlands.

In 2009, during the last of B’Estfest’s three years on Bucharest’s Romexpo site as a non-camping festival, Ramakers told Pollstar of the frustration involved in creating a festival market in a country where the audience is used to turning up just in time to see the headline act.

The new model for a Romanian festival looks at least loosely based on such Dutch Live Nation festivals, particularly a Campflight To Lowlands, including renaming the event as B’Estfest Summer Camp.

The acts on this year’s bill July 6-8 included Pulp, Garbage, Selah Sue, Milow, and Royksopp.

The other festivals that have so far taken place this year in Romania and Bulgaria haven’t attracted the same visitor numbers as B’Estfest, which has also been named in the Top 20 European Festivals lists published in The Times and The Guardian.

Claiming to have created a “true festival experience” and “laid the foundation of festival history in Bulgaria,” Elevation (June 23-24) pulled a reported 10,000 per day to its new site on the former military airbase at Dobroslavsti, about a dozen miles from the centre of Sofia.

It was more dance-oriented gathering than last year’s first staging of the festival last year, which was at the ski resort of Bansko and stopped after the first day because of stormy weather. The 2012 lineup had Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Cypress Hill, Erykah Badu, and Sean Paul.

Three weeks earlier, the debut of promoter Martin Stoyanov’s Loud Festival (June 2-3) attracted about 5,000 per day to a site at the Bulgarian capital’s main airport for a heavy rock bill that included Slayer, W.A.S.P., Lacuna Coil, Behemoth, and Annihilator.

Since then, D&D East Entertainment’s Rock The City metal bash at the Bucharest Romexpo site June 29 to July 1 with sponsorship from Tuborg, had a bill that included Machine Head, Evanescence and Guns N’ Roses.

It hasn’t been possible to get the attendance figures from the festival, but local newspaper reports say there were 1,500 on the first day, around 5,000 on the second and then 10,000 or so for the last day with GNR.

The U.S. rock act looks to have gone some way to rescuing Balkan Entertainment’s Sofia Rocks, which was at the Vasil Levski National Stadium July 7-8, but came nowhere near to filling the 50,000-capacity venue.

The crowd was less then 20,000 on the first day, when Godsmack had to pull out because of illness. Ticketholders were allowed to bring a guest on that day as it was too late to replace the act.

GNR with a supporting lineup including Kaiser Chiefs, Within Temptation, and Trivium played the second day, when Iggy & The Stooges pulled out because Iggy injured his foot.