Tomorrowland Declares 2021 Festival Officially Canceled
Tomorrowland raised the white flag on its two-weekend dance music event, saying it will not take place in 2021 after local authorities denied a permit.
Tomorrowland 2021 is no more.
Organizers of the massive dance festival in Boom, Belgium, said Wednesday that they have raised the white flag once and for all after local officials last week denied the festival a permit to hold the two-weekend event, which typically draws up to 75,000 visitors a day over its six days.
“In spite of the detailed plans we have presented, the studies conducted by us and the massive support and recommendations we have received, we have no other option but to postpone the 16th edition of Tomorrowland until next year,” the festival company said in a statement.
Tomorrowland said it reached a breaking point after the mayors of Boom and Rumst — the adjacent cities where the festival takes place — refused to issue a permit on June 17, citing concern about rising cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the complexity of logistics to ensure health and safety checks for the crowd of 400,000 on Aug. 27-29 and Sept. 3-5. The festival cited the absence of “balanced virological advice” for making a new application “pointless at this stage.”
Organizers said they decided to stand down even though the federal and Flemish governments in Belgium had “given the green light” and had published a decree allowing events with up to 75,000 visitors a day to take place starting on Aug. 13.
“Considering our longstanding cooperation with the municipalities, we do not want to engage in a legal battle, and we do not want to appeal the mayors’ decision with the Council of State,” the festival company said.
The decision to cancel the event adds another dance music festival casualty to the COVID-19 pandemic. EDC Las Vegas and Ultra Music Festival Miami have already bowed out of their normal slots, with EDC rescheduling to October and Ultra to March of 2022. Burning Man and Electric Forest have also decided to focus on 2022.
Tomorrowland said it canceled orders on Wednesday with dozens of Belgian suppliers totaling 50 million euros ($60 million), and also cited the blow to tourism in Belgium, where over the two weeks of the festival more than 80% of Brussels and Antwerp hotels are typically occupied by people attending or working at the dance music event.
Tomorrowland’s live summer event is the fourth festival the company has canceled since the start of the pandemic, including two winter festivals and last year’s main summer event. “It is gut-wrenching to cancel a festival for the fourth time,” organizers said. The company will host its second annual pay-per-view virtual livestream event, Tomorrowland: Around the World, on July 16 and 17, featuring headliners Alan Walker, Fedde Le Grand and Kölsch.
If the summer event had gone forward, it would have been a considerably different experience this year. Tomorrowland revealed Wednesday that the 2021 edition would have been open only to Europeans, with about 75% of tickets expected to be sold to Belgians and the rest to Europeans from neighboring countries.
The festival also planned to use “Covid Safety Tickets,” which would limit attendees to those who had been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before, and to only allow Belgians visiting for one day to be able to enter the festival grounds with a negative PCR test (rather than proof of vaccination).
Still on the books for this summer are EXIT Festival’s 20th anniversary event in Serbia on July 8-11 and the four-day Creamfields in the U.K. scheduled for Aug. 27-29. Creamfields is currently outside the window of a one-month extended lockdown in the U.K. — imposed on June 14 after a spike in Delta variant cases — which will delay the return of large live events. Creamfields features a lineup featuring Deadmau5, Above & Beyond and Tiësto.