Organisers of Serbia’s Exit Festival are “thrilled” to announce that the event will go ahead in August.
The 2020 edition of the festival, which marks its 20th anniversary, was confirmed earlier this week (May 21). Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabić recommended it be postponed from its original July dates to August instead of being cancelled “because we expect the situation in the whole of August to be totally under control by then” [via IQ].
It could be one of just a few European festivals given the green-light this year as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Germany’s Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg is set for September 16-19 with a “pandemic-adapted” focus, while Estonia’s Tallinn Music Week will run August 26-30 thanks to the country easing restrictions. A large number of festivals have been cancelled or postponed.
Exit Festival will, however, “probably not” run at full 55,000-capacity, 40-stage format, organisers told IQ.
“The festival in its full format will probably not return until 2021,” Exit co-founder Dušan Kovačević said, “but we are delighted to hear that the health situation is becoming increasingly better and that we’ll be able to mark the 20th anniversary of Exit this summer with a meaningful and safe event.”
Organisers added that they are prepared to reduce the capacity of the event and take other precautionary measures recommended by health officials. IQ reports further that there’s rumours the capacity will be half of the festival’s usual size.
“The health and safety of the audience and everyone involved at the festival is our top priority,” Kovačević added. “Between fear and optimism we always choose the latter and we’re thrilled that we will have opportunity to be together with our fans and favourite artists this summer.”
Co-founder Ivan Milivojev said that the decision is “very important” for festival and event fans across the globe.
“Even in different formats and smaller capacities, if possible and safe, events could bring back much needed relief from the hardship we have all been through.”
The news stands in contrast with other European festivals, including ones in the UK.
Isle Of Wight Festival boss and music agent John Giddings told NME said that his decision to cancel their event last month was “tragic but a no-brainer” when the gravity of COVID-19 situation emerged.
Asked if he thought that festivals might be possible with social distancing in place, Giddings replied: “No, I think it’s ludicrous. Once you give someone a couple of drinks, they’ll start having the best time with all these people. With social distancing you can only fit 15 people on a double decker bus, how is that economically viable? It’s the same for festivals.
“We pay a million pounds in policing and security for the Isle Of Wight Festival already. How would it be possible to enforce people standing two metres apart? I just can’t see it.”
The UK has recorded upwards of 36,000 deaths from coronavirus at the time of writing. Serbia has counted less than 300.