Rock festivals fighting financial washout
By Marton Dunai
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Prodigy or Fatboy Slim are not enough to persuade Dorina Keresztes to fork out for a rock festival ticket this summer. She says she will find other ways to party.
"Lounging in a park drinking wine with friends is, you know, free," said the 22-year old student from Budapest.
Glastonbury in Britain may be a sell-out, but in the north and east of Europe from Denmark's Roskilde to Romania's B'esfest and Hungary's Sziget, the uncertainties of recession are making 2009 as a rock festival 'summer of love' a hard sell.
As some sponsors pull out, the discounts on offer look geared to publicity. Bring 45 people to Sziget -- usually Europe's third-largest event after Roskilde and Glastonbury -- and all can go half price, organizers say.
Other festivals are postponing planned price hikes, particularly in eastern Europe where the crisis has fallen on countries with already much slimmer economic cushions than in the West. Many have had to scale back.
As a purely discretionary pastime, festivals have to strike the right balance between price and value, says Christof Huber, general secretary of Yourope, an organization of Europe's summer festivals. "That could be difficult this year."
Hungary's unemployment rate is near 10 percent, its highest in at least 13 years, and economic growth indicators are at their weakest since the end of Communism. The country is dependent on a $25 billion IMF loan. Public sentiment is in an abyss.
Luring foreigners by highlighting eastern Europe's relative affordability is just about the best hope some festivals have. Continued...