The Groningen liberation festival has sold only around 10,000 of the 60,000 tickets available, reported city blog Sikkom. This is the first time ever that the festival is not free, but will have an entrance fee of 5 euros.
According to festival director Ebel Jan Dijk, organizers made the difficult decision to charge spectators because operational costs have increased enormously and it’s not possible to utilize the current free entrance model anymore.
Dijk also declared that the paid Groningen Liberation festival is a pilot and is going to be watched closely by other May 5th festivals in the Netherlands.
The decision has been met with widespread criticism, on social media and by both the municipal and provincial councils. Groningen politicians from PvdA officially questioned the entrance fee to the festival in the past few weeks, declaring that freedom should not have a price tag, “especially not now”.
On Wednesday 20th, the band WATERLEAF launched a petition to make the festival free again. As of Monday 25th, the petition has gained 2,120 signatures, reflecting the strong feelings of citizens on the matter.
The online petition is officially directed at the municipality of Groningen and states: “In 2022, Groningen will have the only liberation festival in the Netherlands for which admission is charged. Entrance to celebrate freedom. This has to stop. Freedom is important right now to celebrate freely for everyone.”
At this moment, ticket sales are still on. Even if the festival manages to sell all remaining tickets, 60,000 visitors will be much less than in previous years. The last edition saw almost 100,000 people attending.