Festival News

guilfest2GuilFest is back! Tony Scott, promoter of the original GuilFest, has secured  a licence from Guildford Borough Council  to stage a 20,000 capacity event in 2014. Scott’s previous company, Scotty Events Ltd, went bankrupt in 2012 after the Olympic Games and poor weather led to poor tickets ales and debts of over £300,000. After strong local support Scott’s new company, Trowfest Ltd, was granted a new licence, although he will have to provide a financial bond, evidence of its contribution to the local economy, and make commitments to support local music. Live Nation, who staged the 12,000 capacity Magic Summer Live in 2013 in Guildford, will not repeat that event.

hopfarmConfusion still surrounds the future of the Hop Farm Festival with two events still in the planning it seems. A festival at the Hop Farm’s original site in Paddock Wood co-promoted by the venue owners and UK Events has already announced Beach Boy Brian Wilson as a headliner  – but Vince Power, the original promoter whose Kent Festivals company collapsed in 2012 with debts of £4.8 million, still seems intent on promoting a ‘Hop Farm’ festival in the locality, although the local authority confirmed that no licence had been applied for as yet. The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, 4-6 Jul: James Blunt, Caro Emerald, Paul Carrack, Squeeze, The Feeling.

AEG Live are planning a series of UK Live one day events across the UK with acts including Jessie J, Jason Derulo and Rizzle Kicks. And a new 22,000 capacity music festival at Leicester City’s Welford Road rugby stadium is being planned by two local businessmen – Manoj Keshavji and Shane Whitfield.

Love Parade by Arne MuselerTen people have been charged under German law with negligent manslaughter in relation to the to the fatal stampede that occurred at Germany’s Love Parade festival in 2010 which left 21 people dead and over five hundred more injured. The Festival, which began in 1989 as a Berlin-based event, began travelling to different German cities each year in 2007, was taking place in Duisburg in 2010. The free event was always well attended, and though turnouts had fallen in the few years prior to 2010, it was estimated by investigators that almost half a million people had attended that year on the site of a former freight rail yard. The site’s capacity, however, was 250,000 and despite the large number of people attending, crowds entering were funnelled through a single underpass, which quickly became crowded on the Saturday morning of the event there was a surge in the crowd, which caused panic in the tunnel followed by a stampede. Six of the event’s organisers and four city workers have been charged with negligent manslaughter and bodily harm. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison each. All deny any wrongdoing. The event was permanently cancelled by organisers after the tragedy. Six people had proceedings against them dropped after the investigation by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for lack of evidence. The then mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland, was forced to step down after a 2012 city referendum, accused of having ignored warnings that the venue was too small. Organisers faced criticism at the time in media reports suggesting that officials and organisers did not heed warnings that there would be problems with such a massive crowd. Duisburg prosecutor Horst Bien told reporters: “Something happened on 24 July 2010 that should never have happened. We weren’t looking to see who was morally or politically responsible but instead focussed only on who was criminally liable”. Bien said the entrance was not big enough to handle the numbers of those attending and said those charged should have known that. An interim police report listed a catalogue of crowd management and planning mistakes. The grounds opened nearly two hours later than promised, leading to an initial blockage in the tunnel, and there were no loudspeakers to control the crowd, the report said. “Mistakes in planning were the main reason for the disaster,” Bien said adding thaT “an event where people wanted to party, dance and have fun, turned into a terrible tragedy” and “The victims, their relatives and the bereaved are still suffering today because of the traumatic events.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26152045 and photo by Arne Museler.

gomaThe city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been the scene of armed conflict between rebel and government forces for nearly two decades. But this weekend Goma put on a different face as crowds gathered at College Mwanga to celebrate a music festival with the optimistic slogan “playing for change, singing for peace”. Thousands of  Gomatraciens and visitors from other parts of the DRC and from Rwanda, Burundi and other countries attended the festival, which had been scheduled to take place in 2013 but was cancelled because of clashes between Congo’s army and M23 rebels. The Amani festival – Swahili for “peace” – went ahead this year after peace talks between the warring parties. Musicians and artists from all over the  region, including the outspoken Kinshasa rapper Lexxus Legal and the local musician Innocent Balume, performed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8ItuFT4f84

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