Submitted by Peter Astedt
We have recognized the biggest showcase festivals over the years. Right now, the biggest one is SXSW in Austin Texas. In Europe, there has been a lot of movement. For thirty years until the start of the twenty-first century, Midem in France has been the biggest one, listed sometimes in the world as well as Europe. Then the past fifteen years it has changed the market fast and now Midem is not happening anymore before from what I hear on temporary hold. Instead, the race to become Europe’s biggest one has been raised by three competitors, Germany’s Reeperbahn, UK:s The Great Escape, and Spain’s Primavera Pro.
Now it seems to have a new winner in that department. I would claim that Reeperbahn is the biggest after the COVID years. If you are looking from the outside, it has been the goal for the festival, first to become the most important meeting point for German-speaking countries. Then to become the biggest hub for northern Europe then go on to be the biggest in the whole of Europe.
Reeperbahn Festival happens every Autumn in the red light district of Hamburg’s Reeperbahn where the festival got its name. The area is also famous for where The Beatles did their dog years to become the best pop band in the world and has a big variety of clubs and hangouts. The spot is not just a redlight district it’s a massive tourist attraction as well.
This year Reeperbahn was not the biggest in the festival’s history. The year before COVID was a massive year. The talk on the street was that it sold fewer tickets this year. Still, it was more people than at any of the other festivals, they still can say, everybody was here. At the same time, the festival had expanded in a positive way. Many of the problems with full clubs and lines had been addressed and you could see how new parts of the area are coming to use. This year we found it easy to navigate to see as many acts as possible. Easier than ever to jump between full mingles that were not so full that you couldn’t get in, instead that perfect feeling when you just mingle in a full room and then just continue to the next party and do it all again.
You could also hang around at the delegate hotel and grab people coming by. This year you got a feeling that you meet everybody, at the same time when I look at the social media stats, I found a lot of people who were there that I didn’t bump into indicating that the festival is so much bigger than you think.
As usual, on big festivals, the panels are a major part of the event. People are too busy to have one-to-one meetings and receptions and the panels are usually forgotten. This problem we have seen at all big festivals when you reach a certain point it’s more about the personal meetings. The lineup of the festival was great this year. A good selection of artists that are on their way up.
Has Reeperbahn has reached its goal to become the biggest festival in Europe? Yes, right now they are. Now you have to keep this professional position but also deliver. This year they definitely did deliver a great feeling and the biggest networking opportunities and from what we saw they have all the capacity to develop and establish themselves as the biggest showcase festival in the world. Next year will be very interesting to see how they go from the top position in the race of the biggest showcase festival in the world.