After a tumultuous week for Tomorrowland, the organizers of the world-famous music festival have been forced to abandon its 2021 edition due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
“It is with heavy heart that our organization must announce that the 16th edition of Tomorrowland Belgium cannot take place in 2021,” reads a statement shared on the festival’s Instagram. “The entire team fought till the end and did everything in its powers to write a new chapter in the history of Tomorrowland.”
“Our dream was to welcome the People of Tomorrow, who we’ve been missing for too long, to celebrate life to the fullest,” the post continues. “But unfortunately, the local government has not given the permit to organize Tomorrowland.”
The news arrives after Belgian officials forcefully rejected a permit to host the massive music festival, which annually attracts around 400,000 people to the city of Boom. At a press conference, the mayors of Boom and Rumst cited “risks to public safety and health” as the reasoning for the permit refusal.
Tomorrowland organizers called the decision “a sledgehammer blow” at the time. Considering the fact that Tomorrowland—one of the world’s most popular electronic dance music festivals—had already been postponed due to the impact of COVID-19, spokesperson Debby Wilmsen said another cancellation would be a “huge disaster.”
Despite considerable backlash, Mayors Jeroen Baert and Jurgen Callaerts ultimately doubled down on their decision. “We understand of course all the higher or economic interests at stake and especially the eagerness with which everyone wants a festival summer back, but the full responsibility to ensure public peace, safety and health rests with us as mayors,” they said in a joint statement. “In view of the current circumstances known to us, we cannot reconsider our decision and our position regarding the license applied for.”
It is not yet clear when ticket-holders will receive information about refunds and rollovers.