European Music Festivals Are Increasing Their Security After Germany Attacks

The director of one Belgian festival says, “Compare it to airport check ins.”
July 28, 2016, 8:11pm
Lake Festival. Photo via website.

A string of deadly attacks across Germany, including the July 24 suicide bombing outside an Ansbach music festival that killed one person and injured at least ten, has resulted in heightened security measures both in the country and throughout Europe.

Thomas Jensen, founder of Germany's metal festival Wacken Open Air, told Billboard during an interview that his event, scheduled for August 4-6, will no longer allow backpacks or bags of any kind on festival grounds. Alex Skolnick, whose band Testment is scheduled to perform at Wacken, said the festival atmosphere puts him at ease despite recent events such as the Le Bataclan and Pulse nightclub shootings. "Entry is so regulated and there are watchers everywhere who'd observe the first sign of anything out of the ordinary… the possibility of that kind of an attack feels like a freak occurrence."

Read More: We Asked America's Top Club Security Expert How Venues Can Prepare for Active Shooter Situations

Other countries have also followed suit. Austrian publication The Local writes (via ORF) that dance music gathering Lake Festival has also banned large backpacks and purses. Organizers will also be implementing additional safety measures including bomb-sniffing dogs and searches, and have stationed 50 extra people at the entrance alongside 400 security personnel and multiple police, lifeguards, and firemen. Organizers expect hundreds of thousands of people to attend the festival, which starts today (July 28) and goes until Saturday with performances from headliners Alesso, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, and more.

Yo Van Saet, Festival Director of Belgian's Rock Werchter, told Billboard that because Belgium is currently on high alert, large-scale events such as hers require an increased police presence, in addition to utilization of drug-sniffing dogs. So far, no bags have been banned at Rock Werchter, but there will also be 50 special gates for metal detection. "Compare it to airport check-ins," he said.

Chokri Mahassine, a promoter for fellow Belgian festival Pukkelpop, says that their security team has also ramped up its efforts ahead of the August 17-20 event, but declined to elaborate on them for "safety reasons."