Several Belgian politicians are reportedly working on solutions to overturn the decision


Update 18/06/2021: Tomorrowland have shared a statement with DJ Mag clarifying the circumstances surrounding the local government’s decision to not allow the festival to go ahead this year. Read it below. 

Tomorrowland 2021 has been cancelled by Belgian officials.

Just weeks after Tomorrowland’s organisers told Billboard they were feeling “very positive” about its 2021 real world events, the mayors of Boom and Rumst — where Tomorrowland is held annually — have placed a ban on this year’s event happening amid concerns over rising coronavirus cases internationally.

In a press conference in Belgium on Thursday (17th) officials told reporters that while they regretted the decision to force the ban on Tomorrowland, they would need to follow “current law”, and after considering the dangers of the recent COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak, they had decided that Tomorrowland was too great a risk to public health and safety.

Speaking yesterday, Jeroen Baert (N-VA), mayor van Boom, said: “We are concerned about the health situation. We bear a great moral responsibility. I would find it difficult if there were victims due to a local corona outbreak. That is why we cannot approve this application now. The experts have been very clear to us, we can’t ignore that.”

Tomorrowland’s 2020 instalments were cancelled due to the pandemic, and 2021’s edition had already been moved to later in the year to try and avoid postponement. Speaking with VRT news, Tomorrowland spokesperson Debby Wilmsen said: “We have just been informed that the mayors of Boom and Rumst will announce a ban on Tomorrowland 2021. That hits like a sledgehammer, very hard and unexpected.

“We haven’t had a festival for two years, which is very hard both financially and emotionally for our entire team,” she continued. “We were so keen on this, and it all looked positive. After 15 years of intensive cooperation with the municipalities of Boom and Rumst, this feels very wry. We find this very unfortunate after the many constructive preparations and discussions. We do not know what is happening to us for a while.”

Following the announcement, The Brussels Times reports that several politicians are working on solutions to overturn the decision, including Flemish Minister for Home Affairs, Bart Somers, who is set to meet with Tomorrowland organisers to discuss the cancellation. In a press release, Somers said: “This sector has suffered heavily from the corona crisis and we have supported them with financial means to get through it, but from 13th August onwards it should be possible again to organise larger festivals. If Pukkelpop can go ahead, I am convinced Tomorrowland can too.” Belgian festival Pukkelpop is currently scheduled to take place from the 19th – 22nd August in Hasselt, with organiser Chokri Mahassine telling Studio Brussel the event was aiming for “full capacity” at “66,000 people a day.”

The festival’s digital offering, Tomorrowland: Around the World, will run on 16th and 17th July 2021, and the event just unveiled its third annual Top 1000 tracks list, decided by global vote.

Update 18/06/2021: Tomorrowland have shared a statement with DJ Mag clarifying the circumstances surrounding the local government’s decision to not allow the festival to go ahead this year. Read it below. 

“Earlier this month, Belgium’s national government announced that large-scale festivals can take place from the second half of August. Yesterday, the local government (Boom & Rumst) has decided that the 16th edition of Tomorrowland cannot take place in 2021.

We are very surprised and puzzled by these contradictory messages from our authorities. In the next few days we will explore all possible options and try to obtain some clarity for our visitors and suppliers. 

The grounds cited for the decision are that the Ministerial Decree regarding maximum capacity (75,000 persons) has not been published. For the time being, according to the mayors, only events up to 400 people can legally be allowed.

However, we have understood from the federal government that both arguments would be resolved very quickly with the publication of the Ministerial Decree and the possibility for the ID check to be carried out by private security, as the latter is a general point of attention for the control of the Digital Green Certificate in Belgium. 

Finally, reference is made to a local explanation from the GEMS public health advisory group regarding the advice it has made to the Federal government for the summer plan. The federal government has clearly said that festivals can take place after August 13, provided that extra measures are strictly respected, which we intend to follow at all times.

As Tomorrowland, we first and foremost want to organise a safe festival and we have stated several times that we will always continue to evaluate and anticipate the epidemiological situation.

No Tomorrowland for the second year in a row would in any case be a huge disaster for our company, but also for the more than 1500 suppliers involved, many freelancers and our thousands of employees. We are still 100% prepared to organise everything as professionally as possible if the epidemiological situation allows, and to celebrate a great end of the summer together with our visitors.

After 15 years of intensive cooperation, this feels very grim and we find it very unfortunate after the many constructive preparations and conversations and federal commitments that it has come to this point, where we struggle to comprehend what just happened to us and still have to let it sink in a bit. Creating and organising Tomorrowland is our life, and an undertaking on which hundreds of people work every day with great passion for a whole year, day in day out. 

We keep looking positively towards the future and strongly believe that music will unite us again.”