A few days ago we travelled to the Netherlands to experience first-hand one of the best-rated and most well-known festivals in the world, Awakenings Summer Festival. After having celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, we were looking forward to experiencing this new edition of the enchanting festival grounds in Hilvarenbeek. Now it’s time to share our impressions with you all.
“Sunday marked the most heartbreaking day in the past twenty-six years of organising Awakenings. For the past year we poured our heart and soul into creating the most unforgettable edition of Awakenings Summer Festival," we read in a statement on the website explaining in detail what happened. Regardless of the discomfort this decision caused to attendees who travelled from Australia, the United States or Mexico to live the Awakenings experience, the festival cancelled its third day of the programme. It was a challenging decision based on the available weather and safety information at that time.

Of course, these decisions are unpleasant both for people who travel from far away wanting to see their favourite artists on stage and for the festival’s team members, who’ve been working non-stop for more than a year to make these three days something unique and unrepeatable. But, as they say in the statement, the decision to cancel the event was a collective agreement among the Hilvarenbeek municipality, Beekse Bergen, Awakenings, and Health and Safety Authorities.

“That the weather subsequently changed is a testament to the unpredictability of such conditions. It also indicates how painful the decision was,” they add while standing fully behind that decision after learning about the impact the hail, lightning and storm had around that area. “We extend our gratitude to all those who have reached out, offering messages of support and understanding. It devastates us to read and see the negative comments about this decision. We know you're hurt, we know you're upset. We are too.” We don’t have much more to say about a decision that has to do with the responsibility of guaranteeing the safety of the audience and the staff members, which we fully support.
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With that being said, Awakenings Summer Festival 2023 has been an epic edition. For those who were enjoying the festival for the first time, and for those who have not missed any of its past editions, this weekend has been a moment of maximum pleasure in which we’ve had the chance to listen to some of the best DJs in the world, be mesmerised by the amazing stages, and feel an energy that is difficult to put into words.

Neither the +30ºC temperatures nor the buses without air conditioning to get to the festival stopped the more than 100,000 daily visitors. They flew in from more than one hundred different countries and had been waiting for months to see perform the more than 130 artists confirmed in this year’s lineup. For more than thirty of them, this was their Awakenings Festival debut, something they will cherish forever and in which they could feel the warmth of the audience.

We can't fail to mention Deborah de Luca's fantastic set, defined by powerful energy from start to finish. The success of the Italian doesn’t stop growing, and after having experienced her live set we understand why. Just as spectacular was the performance of Mind Against. But if there is someone who was our great find of this edition of Awakenings, it was Shinedoe. We have rarely seen artists enjoy their work as much as she does, radiating spectacular energy resulting in a vibe we can't wait to feel again.
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Of course, the cancellation of the Sunday program was a pity, which made it impossible for such important names including Amelie Lens, Honey Dijon, or Anfisa Letyago to go on stage. But the successful organisation as well as its incredible offer distributed in nine areas at the festival and one at the campsite in which more than fifteen thousand people stayed, made Friday and Saturday two days of perfection.

Besides their two outdoor V & W main stages, the intimate rave stage in the midst of the forest, and the semi-outdoor stage where they imitated the iconic Gashouder with its distinguishing framework, this year the organisation incorporated a new addition: Area L; The LAB. We must also highlight the on-site radio studio of the Dutch radio programme The Beat, which focuses on underground electronic music. And those who needed to take a break and reconnect with themselves in-between sets could enjoy an interesting wellness programme including yoga sessions, a cocoa ceremony, sound healing, or an ice bath experience for the more adventurous.

The connection with other artistic disciplines has been one of the greatest strengths of the festival since its first edition more than twenty-five years ago. In this latest call, this creative synergy has taken the form of fountain projections by Beeldjutters or light sculptures by Studio Groenewald, among other formats. Environmental responsibility and the continuous search for innovations in the area of sustainability have also been present in this latest edition through a deposit recycle system or the development of materials whose goal is to create as little waste as possible. Even the tokens have been melted after the show and used to produce new ones!

Last but not least, for all of you who are still waiting to receive refunds after the cancellation on Sunday, or have questions and have not yet received an answer, this was the statement that Awakenings issued a few days ago: “Just how we poured our heart and soul into the organisation of Awakenings Summer Festival, we are fully committed to resolving the issue of refunds for our weekend and Sunday visitors. In the upcoming period, we will get in contact with all of you about a refund plan.”
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