Oerol Festival on Terschelling reflects with contentment on the 42nd edition

Festivalhart het Strand tijdens zonder ondergang, Oerol 2023
© Marleen Annema

The festival’s more compact setup, the sharpness and relaxation of the program, on location, on the streets, and in the new Festival Hub, De Deining, were embraced by the audience. With nearly 50,000 visitors, Oerol is back at the level of 2019. The occupancy rate of over 93% for paid performances has only occurred once before in the history of Oerol.

CEO Siart Smit: “The complexity and diversity are evident in the performances, talks, and storytelling, street theater, and music program. The audience appreciates the expressive power of our program; there are many stories that resonate, taking people into the worlds of the creators. We look back with satisfaction on this edition. We have implemented some changes that have worked out well, and of course, I am pleased with the figures.”

Many performances revolve around three themes that were organically determined because both the creators and the Oerol organization wanted to tell these stories. Stories about the island’s roots, about climate and sustainability, and about plurality and accessibility. Sabine Pater, Oerol’s new artistic director: “I am very pleased with all the positive feedback from the audience, with the success of the new Festival Hub, and with the depth of the festival. Our multidisciplinary programming offers the freedom to make your own choices, allowing everyone to experience the festival in their own way.”

The audience embraces depth and relaxation.

In the context of sustainability, Oerol developed the ecological compass, a living document shared with makers, suppliers, and staff since this edition. It contains guidelines to make considerations and choices from ecological perspectives and a duty of care for the world. Anne van Dooren, head of production, says: “We are extremely proud that this year we did not use traditional generators at any theater location, thanks to the use of various battery packs, solar panels, and fixed power points. With 45 different locations spread across the entire island, that was quite a puzzle but essential if you want to organize a festival in a Natura 2000 area in 2023. And we have realized a large new festival hub for tens of thousands of visitors with two stages, various bars and caterers, using the fixed power grid. This is the first time in Oerol’s history, but still quite unique in the festival landscape.”

Siart Smit adds: “We will continue to develop ourselves in the coming years and explore how we can move from sustainability to climate justice. How do we increase space for innovation and experimentation? And how do we involve the public in the urgent issues at hand?”

Oerol Festival 2024 will take place from Friday, June 7th to Sunday, June 16th.