Grasnapolsky : The Last Festival Before, And The First After Covid

By Kirsten Lenaghan and Jan Douwe Krist

February 18, 2022. By chance, Grasnapolsky became the last music festival to be held in the Netherlands before the reality of the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Now, two years later, the festival in Scheemda (around 30 kilometers east of Groningen) will also be the first music festival held with almost no restrictions.

When Grasnapolsky took place between the 6th and 8th of March 2020, nobody realized it would be the last festival of its kind for a long time. At this point, there were only a few confirmed Covid-19 cases in The Netherlands. For Grasnapolsky, all this meant was the need for some extra hand-washing facilities. “It was just a big party,” recalls Maurice van Trijffel, whose “hunger for new and exciting acts” has led him to Grasnapolsky 4 times before.

When starting to plan for 2022, organizers were ready to work with whatever restrictions might be in place, so that the festival could go ahead. They were prepared for limited visitor numbers, seated shows only, and social distancing “but the Gods were merciful,” wrote director Mariska Berrevoets in a press release. Instead, they “could throw all of that out of the window, and go on all out”. For now, the only coronavirus-related restriction is that all attendees must show a negative test on entry—the so-called 1G-policy.

To really make the festival come full circle, organizers managed to get Dutch band Goldband to headline again. When they played the closing act in 2020, the electropop group with a background in plastering (seriously) was still a niche group. Two years later they have become a nationally renowned and acclaimed band. Grasnapolsky will likely be the start of their long-awaited live tour.

Musicians are not the only ones for who the return of festivals is extra special. Groningen-based photographer Jan Lenting, who specializes in capturing live music events, is also looking forward to the festival’s return. Over the past two years, he has mainly had to work on seated events, “It’s simply not the same,” he says.

In particular, Lenting is looking forward to seeing Smudged, a Rotterdam-based act he first saw via live stream. He thinks that people will quickly get used to seeing acts live again and hopes that this year’s Grasnapolsky will be “everything it used to be”.  

Lenting and van Trijffel also both see discovering new acts as the main charm of the festival. Van Trijffel: “It’s a make-do festival with a young organization and exciting acts. It’s not as huge as some other festivals. For now, I don’t even really care about specific bands, I just want to be at a festival again.”

Tickets for Grasnapolsky are still available on the festival website.

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