350+ Dutch festivals join protest: "We will not be silenced"


August 16, 2021

More than 350 organisations from the Dutch event industry are backing a protest march against the government’s ‘arbitrary’ restrictions which have effectively wiped out the festival season.

Last Friday (13 August), the cabinet announced that the current restrictions preventing multi-day festivals with overnight stays will remain in force until 19 September – despite the promise they could take place again when everyone has been offered the vaccine.

The protest, dubbed ‘Unmute Us‘, has drawn support from some of the Netherlands’ biggest and best-known festivals such as DGTL, A State of Trance Festival, Amsterdam Open Air, Awakenings, Best Kept Secret, Defqon, Dekmantel Festival, Down The Rabbit Hole, Lowlands, Mysteryland and Paaspop.

While many of the aforementioned festivals have been cancelled as a result of government restrictions, other large events outside of the live music industry have been permitted to take place with hundreds of thousands of attendees.

“Elsewhere in society there is room for full football stadiums and overcrowded fairgrounds, but safely organised events are not given any space. And that has been the case since the start of the pandemic, more than a year and a half ago,” reads a statement on the ‘Unmute Us’ website.

“It is measured with two measures, with the message that Formula 1 in Zandvoort (operating at two-thirds of its normal capacity, with 105,000 visitors per day) can continue as an exception for the time being. It shows a total undermining and misjudgment of everyone who cares about culture and nightlife.”


The organisations involved point out that it was the government itself, along with Fieldlab, that conducted months of scientific research and pilot events to determine whether festivals could be organised safely.

It was ultimately revealed that, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, the risk of Covid-19 infection at concerts and festivals is about the same as being at home.

“The studies and results are a painful reminder that at this point not corona, but politics is the cause of a festival-free summer and uncertain future,” the ‘Unmute Us’ manifesto continues.

As well as event organisers, it is hoped that the campaign will galvanise young festivalgoers who have ‘been delivered empty promises by the government and kept on mute’.

“With ‘Unmute Us’ we make a fist. We are sending out a clear signal to The Hague: it can no longer be done like this, we will not be silenced. The sector asks for a clear plan for the future, with measurable agreements, but also for recognition of the emotional state of the many visitors and makers who do not feel heard. We want to be able to meet again, laugh and dance again. Above all, we want to be able to look ahead again.”

The ‘Unmute Us’ protest march will take place on Saturday 21 August in various Dutch cities.

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