Christian Hjorth – The crowd at Roskilde.
If the lifting of restrictions holds through summer, Denmark’s biggest festival will finally welcome visitors in person again.
A few European countries recently followed the UK in lifting all coronavirus restrictions on social gatherings, including capacity restrictions, the need to wear face masks and COVID pass requirements.
Denmark led the way, when making the announcement effective Feb. 1, followed by Finland, which announced that all restrictions would be lifted through February. Then came Sweden, which announced it would follow the example of its Nordic neighbors come Feb. 9.
The reasoning of all governments is the same: the Omicron variant of coronavirus may be more contagious, but also far less severe in its course than previous iterations of the virus. Pollstar reached out to promoters in the different regions, who mostly confirmed the good news.
Rikke Øxner, executive director of Denmark’s Aarhus Festival, said, “It’s true that all restrictions are now lifted in Denmark. I think you will have to show corona pass in the airport, though, and there are still a complex set of travel restrictions internationally.
Martin Dam Kristensen – Scene from Aarhus Festuge 2019.
The event went down in 2021 under some restrictions. Director Rikke Øxner hopes there’ll be none at all this year.
“If it stays like this – fingers crossed – it will mean that we can do the Aarhus Festuge completely without restrictions. Only issues might be traveling from abroad as we are still depending on the international travel restrictions so we may end up not having that many artists from outside of Europe but we still hope that will settle soon.”
After being forced to cancel in 2020, Aarhus Festival did take place in 2021 with some but no major restrictions in place, but looking into a summer without any COVID worries at all “would be amazing,” Øxner said.
Anders Wahren, program director of Roskilde, confirmed: “Everything is open and back to normal, although with 40,000 to 50,000 daily cases (that we know of).
“We are closer to the UK take on things now, where it is up to each promoter to choose if they want to check a COVID passport, but I think most will stop checking – maybe they will stay extra safe for the first month and then disregard it, but that is just my guess from a few posts and discussions I have seen.”
ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/AFP via Getty Images – Erykah Badu at Flow Festival 2019.
Promoters just added Florence + The Machine to this year’s lineup.
He emphasized, “not all venues are fully open yet, and we have yet to see international touring pick back up of course. So in part the reopening is more theoretical than practical.”
Scrolling through the website of one of Copenhagen’s prime venues, Vega, and there are still many “aflyst” (canceled) and “udskudt” (postponed) stickers attached to a lot of shows.
One of the biggest lineups of the summer awaits visitors of Flow Festival, returning to the Finnish capital of Helsinki, Aug. 12-14. Florence + The Machine recently joined previously announced Gorillaz, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Michael Kiwanuka, Princess Nokia, BRITs Rising Star winner Holly Humberstone and more.
Flow’s Vilja Grotenfelt told Pollstar, “We are optimistic about the summer, and like the other Nordic festivals, we believe that we are able to produce our events in full capacity. Flow Festival’s production is moving ahead normally, and the lineup is looking fantastic.
“Flow Festival is a relatively small boutique city festival where health and security are carefully considered. But we are closely monitoring the situation and naturally following the Finnish authorities’ instructions while we move towards the summer.’
Tommy Lindholm/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images – Swedish artist Grant performing at the free eight-day Malmöfestivalen in Malmö.
Sweden announced it would follow the lead of its Nordic neighbors and lift all coronavirus restrictions by Feb. 9.
David Östberg, project manager at Malmöfestivalen, confirmed that Sweden was headed in the same direction: “Yesterday, the government announced that as from the 9th of February all restrictions will be lifted. It’s of course great news for many industries and people.
“Regarding events, all restrictions will be lifted next week, so that means no vaccine-passes or limits for attendance capacity. Let’s hope the situation stays in this direction so we can get back so something what we would call ‘normal’,” Östberg explained.
In Spain, restrictions are lifting as well, albeit at a slower pace. The country’s government had imposed a requirement to wear masks outdoors, which has been lifted now. Aside from that, the situation differs between Spain’s autonomous regions.
Authorities in Aragon and Basque Country, as well as in the Canary Islands, lifted some restrictions on social gatherings. While the Basque Country dropped the COVID pass requirements, Aragon, in addition, scrapped capacity restrictions. Catalonia also scrapped the COVID pass requirement a week ago.
Pollstar was waiting for an exact breakdown from region to region at press time.