The heroines behind Düsseldorf's summer festivals


The heroines behind Düsseldorf's summer festivals

How Düsseldorf festival makers have reinvented the summer

Manuel Kalb works as a social media expert for various Düsseldorf music festivals. He also shoots remarkable video documentaries. The film "Düsseldorf - Tokyo" about the Düsseldorf band Love Machine recently premiered at the sold-out Metropol cinema. For his latest short documentary, he has now accompanied Düsseldorf festival makers* as they saved the summer in 2021 - driven by their passion for music. Among them: the asphalt Festival on the lake stage in front of the K21, the New Fall Festival in the Museumsquartier Ehrenhof or the Chance Festival at the racecourse Grafenberg.

Manuel, what kind of festival summer was it in Düsseldorf?

Last summer, culture makers had to create new possibilities for a shared and direct cultural experience with creative and innovative concepts. Locations born out of necessity such as the asphalt Festival's lake stage or the Summer Edition of the New Fall Festival in the Ehrenhof, but also smaller events by Stadtklang, Ritus or GoldMucke. Now this summer, some venues were already established, many were new additions, and the city also added corresponding open-air offerings with the "Kultursommer" program, for example at the Stadtstrand on Tonhallenufer or in the Vier-Linden-Biergarten in Südpark. I thought it was great how many concerts and even new festivals were put on despite all the uncertainties. At the end of the summer, there was almost an oversupply of open-air events. And when the music was right, there was also an exuberant mood everywhere, because it partly felt like 2019 again. 

The festival organizers in your documentary seem combative and optimistic, even though they are going through the worst time of their professional lives. Did this summer give them back their faith?

As a culture maker, the struggle for existence is unfortunately always part of the job, but the last 1.5 years were really extreme. The constant uncertainty was very grueling, energy and money reserves as good as exhausted. Therefore, this summer has certainly awakened the hope in many that it can soon go on again properly. Hopefully everyone will still be at the start next year, because many concerts with audience and distance restrictions were certainly not very lucrative. It will also be exciting when all events can take place normally again and all bands make up for their postponed and planned shows. It will certainly be a loud summer in 2022.

"Great places like the racecourse and the Court of Honor can't be found everywhere"

Is that a typical Düsseldorf attitude?

Düsseldorf's rather manageable festival landscape is certainly like the rest of the industry. But what impresses me is how Düsseldorf's creative artists keep discovering new venues and filling them with life. Atmospheric open-air venues on the banks of the Rhine are not exclusive to Düsseldorf, but great places like the racecourse in Grafenberg Forest or the Ehrenhof in the Museumsquartier can't be found everywhere. And the many cooperations of medium-sized and smaller event organizers are to be emphasized here, there is already a friendly togetherness.

What was the most beautiful moment you experienced in front of or backstage this summer?

My highlight was the new Chance Festival. My first festival this summer without seating restrictions, with party in front of the stage and family on the picnic blanket. For a long time, the Open Source Festival took place at the same location on the racecourse, which was already a cool summer festival for Düsseldorf.    

If I want to visit a Düsseldorf open-air festival in 2022, which one does it have to be?

Definitely to the summer festival of "Ritus - Underground Shows".

Manuel Kalb, social media expert and filmmaker

Images: Manuel Kalb
Portrait photo: Photo Schiko

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