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Top German Festivals Canceled Again, Throwing Europe’s Summer Into Doubt

LONDON — Promoters have called off six of Germany’s biggest music festivals for a second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dealing another blow to Europe’s efforts to restart live music this summer.

CTS Eventim and its promoter network Eventim Live announced Wednesday (March 10) that they were postponing Rock am Ring, scheduled for June 11-13 at the Nürburgring racetrack in Nürburg, and its concurrent sister event Rock im Park, which takes place near Nuremberg, until June 2022.

The two outdoor festivals have a combined capacity of more than 150,000 people and rank among Germany’s most popular summer music events. Artists booked to play this year included Volbeat, Green Day and System of a Down. The promoter has not confirmed if those acts will perform at the rescheduled 2022 editions.

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Eventim Live, in a statement, cited “ongoing uncertainty about infection rates and mutations” for the cancellations.

The promoter also announced the postponement to 2022 of four other German festivals and one in Switzerland: Hurricane (due to feature Twenty One Pilots and The Killers), Deichbrand (Steve Aoki, Capital Bra), SonneMondSterne (Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers), Southside (Kings of Leon, Rise Against), and Greenfield Festival (Volbeat, Korn) in Switzerland.

All the events had been scheduled to take place between June and August and have capacities of between 60,000 and 80,000 people. Ticket holders will be given the opportunity to transfer their tickets to attend next year’s events, organizers said.

“2021 was actually meant to be the summer of reunions, and festival organizers have invested a great deal of time and energy in sanitary and infection control concepts to make that possible,” Frithjof Pils, managing director of Eventim Live, said in a press release.

The ongoing health crisis in Germany and Switzerland meant promoters “have had to accept with a heavy heart that festivals of this magnitude are not yet feasible at present,” he said.

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The festival cancellations will deeply concern live executives, artists and crews desperate to see a return to touring and full-capacity concerts in Europe. Already this year, promoters have called off a number of tentpole 2021 events in Europe, including Glastonbury in the U.K., Hellfest in France and Primavera Sound in Spain.

There are, however, a large number of European festivals hoping to take place this summer, most notably in the U.K. where 22.8 million people — more than one-third of the population — have so far received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose. It’s the third-highest vaccination rate of any country in the world.

Live events free of restrictions are due to return starting June 21, according to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. The shows include the dual site Reading and Leeds festivals, All Points East, Latitude, and Creamfields — which counts David Guetta, deadmau5, Eric Prydz and Tiësto among its line-up and sold out in record time in February.

The picture in other major touring markets in Europe, such as Germany and France, is more uncertain due to delays in administering vaccinations and new coronavirus mutations that are leading to a spike in infections. As of March 5, around 4.7 million people in Germany — 5.7% of the population — had received at least one vaccination dose, according to the Robert Koch Institut.

“The delay in the vaccination rollout and the new virus mutants really kicked us in the buttocks,” reads a statement on the Hurricane festival website.

“We regret these cancellations very much,” said Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim. “But precedence must, of course, be given to safeguarding and protecting the health of fans, performers, festival teams and partners.”