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Tomorrowland Looks to Expand to Three Weekends to Recover Pandemic Losses

After a series of pandemic-related cancellations, Belgian dance mega-festival Tomorrowland is looking to recoup its losses by expanding to three weekends in 2022.

The event has submitted the request to the province of Antwerp and the cities of Boom and Rumst, Tomorrowland representative Debby Wilmsen tells Billboard, and is awaiting approval. Antwerp has jurisdiction over the city of Boom, where the festival is held in the park De Schorre, and Rumst, the nearby city where the festival camping area, called DreamVille, is located.

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Wilmsen notes that it’s currently unclear how long it might take for the municipalities to evaluate this request. “We hope soon,” she says.

The pandemic has dealt a series of blows to Tomorrowland, which typically hosts roughly 400,000 attendees over two weekends each summer. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Tomorrowland has been forced to cancel six festivals — four total weekends in Belgium (in 2019 and 2020) and a pair of Tomorrowland’s winter events in France.

Wilmsen says that organizers never intended to expand to three weekends, but are doing so in an attempt to recoup 5 million euros ($5.8 million) in lost revenue the company experienced in 2021 and an additional 20 million euros ($23 million) in anticipated losses. Expanding to three weekends would help cover these losses and also benefit vendors, hotel properties and other entities who typically profit from the event, which draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to the country.

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The festival is only planning to apply for a third weekend permit in 2022, Wilmsen notes, making this trinity of Tomorrowlands — if approved — a one-time-only event. This third weekend of the festival would take place July 15-17, 2022, just ahead of the already confirmed July 22-24 and July 29-31 dates.

This development comes after the June cancellation of Tomorrowland 2021, which had been scheduled for Aug. 27-29 and Sept. 3-5. This cancellation came after local officials in Boom and Rumst denied the festival a permit to hold the two-weekend event, citing concerns over the coronavirus delta variant and how the festival would enforce protocols for its hundreds of thousands attendees. If the festival had taken place, it would have been open to only Europeans.

While Tomorrowland initially stated intentions to fight this permit denial — given that the Belgian government began allowing events with up to 75,000 visitors a day to take place starting on Aug. 13 — organizers ultimately pulled the plug, citing an intention to stay on good terms with government entities. Tomorrowland organizers noted that this 2021 cancellation forced them to cancel orders with dozens of Belgian suppliers totaling 50 million euros ($60 million.)

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Tomorrowland’s annual winter festival is currently schedule to take place in the French Alps from March 19-26, 2022 with a lineup including Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin Solveig, Paul Kalkbrenner and more.

In July, Serbia’s EXIT became the first major European festival to return since the pandemic began 18 months ago. In late August, mass festivals also resumed in the U.K., with roughly 270,000 people attending Creamfields and the Reading and Leeds festivals, which all took place during the weekend of August 27-29.

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