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Hungary postpones VOLT and Balaton Sound for 2022

Hungary postpones VOLT and Balaton Sound for 2022

Pandemic restrictions, health concerns, and logistical problems have put a spanner in the wheels of the popular festivals

VOLT and Balaton Sound, two of Hungary’s most popular rural festivals, have been postponed for 2022 due to the unflagging coronavirus pandemic, index.hu learned from festival organizers.  Following the government’s State of Emergency decree in 2020, which banned large gatherings during the first wave of the pandemic, organizers extended the validity of tickets of cancelled 2020 events to 2021. 

Too early - too late 

“We were preparing to finally meet again in Sopron this year. The Telekom VOLT Festival is the earliest event in our portfolio, as we planned to open the gates in June this year. Today, this date has become so close that we have been forced to postpone it,” said Norbert Lobenwein, founder of VOLT.  

He explained that the raging third wave of the pandemic makes it impossible to safely hold a big festival in early summer, as there is simply no time left to carry out a promotional campaign, organize the sale of tickets and put large-scale precautionary measures in place. Lobenwein added that the pandemic uncertainty had impacted tour schedules of international stars and a 2021 VOLT lineup had not even been announced.   

Balaton Sound, according to festival director Zoltán Fülöp, has become one of the most important electronic music festivals and a serious tourist attraction, representing tens of thousands of domestic and foreign guests every year. However, he cast doubt on international tourism traffic resuming to such an extent across Europe by the middle of the summer, adding that the safety and health of the domestic audience is of paramount concern.  

Announcing the postponement for 2022, festival organizers revealed that they tried unsuccessfully to fix alternative dates for both events towards the end of summer. They were also engaged in talks with authorities to allow vaccinated people to attend. But given the lagging vaccine rollout and that young people, who usually flock to such festivals, are at the very end of the vaccination priority list, chances of most festival goers to get inoculated by June are next to none.

Local opposition

The mayor of the key festival location Zamárdi, on the south bank of Lake Balaton, Gyula Csákovics, confided recently to 24.hu that the municipality wants to “move out” the festivals in the long haul. The reason is opposition from the local population, which is fed up with the noise and pollution of such big gatherings and unsure of the economic benefits they bring.

Therefore, the municipality did not sign the five-year contract of Sziget Ltd. and discontinued the Be My Lake festival in Zamárdi. The mayor said that the one-year-long agreements are a sort of a gesture to organizers so that they would have time to find new locations. There is also a consensus among Zamárdi residents that at least a portion of festival goers must present a vaccination certificate.

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