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Festival season in the Netherlands

Santiago Zuluaga
Santiago Zuluaga is Colombian born, Aruban raised Economics student. Santiago is an active member of the Asset Economics blog committee and a student ambassador at Tilburg University. He has various interests in the topics of Globalization, technological advancement and Economics.

The time has been changed, days are longer, the sun is brighter and the temperature is on the rise. Spring is here and with summer just around the corner, people’s moods and behavior take more and more a positive turn. Even our consuming behavior changes as the weather allows and sometimes demands an occasional ice cream or an outdoor barbecue with a freezing beer. An industry that is technically cyclical to the movement of the seasons is the festival industry. It is no surprise that more festivals are organized around this period. However, the numbers in the Netherlands are astonishing as this is a rapidly growing industry that pulls more and more people both on a national and international level every year.

Between the spring and summer time, Europe rapidly becomes a crazy partying, beer drinking, all-nighter continent. Many major festivals take place in Europe such as the Hungarian Sziget, Tomorrowland in Belgium and Bestival in the U.K to name a few. It is a tough business, competition is high and while the Netherlands is home of many popular events, these are still not of the same magnitude as other countries. This picture, however, has been changing as the number of visitors and the number of festivals have been increasing quite impressively in the last years. In 2016, Dutch festival attracted around 23.3 million visitors to their events. This is the same as saying that 1.4 times the entire population of the Netherlands took part in some kind of festival. Though not all festivals are music festivals -as there are theater festivals, art festivals and other type of festival- music festival did pull the majority of visitors accounting roughly 60% of them. Since the amount of visitors has been increasing rapidly, organizers have had the need to expand the amount of festivals. Last year 837 festivals were organized in the Netherlands with an average price of 24 euros per entry. It is interesting to see that throughout the whole Netherlands, the number of festivals in different provinces does not differ that much. Though we can see that most of the festivals do take place in in the center provinces of the Netherlands where most of the popular cities are.
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Sponsoring is also a very important part in the festival industry. In 2016, total sponsoring amounted 74.3 million euros of which roughly 60% was given by some branch of the Dutch government (national, regional or local). However, sponsoring has become more difficult as it is reported in an interview by NU.nl with a representative of the Organization of the Netherlands of Poppodia and Festivals (VNPF). In the interview, it is said that many companies are more reluctant nowadays to give money away for just some sort of advertisement. Furthermore, expensive artists and increasing competition have squeezed the industry in the last years quite much.

Still, the festival industry is blooming together with the spring with increasing number of visitors every year but also increasing competition among festivals. The result, organizers are pushing new unique ideas to create the most unique and enjoyable festivals in order to keep up. This, for us as young people and university students, is only good news since we will all share a good reason to assist to as many festivals as possible as soon as exams are gone and this academic year is over.

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