Horst Festival moves to Vilvoorde for its next edition

Pictures by Jeroen Verrecht

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While we all believed Horst festival closed the doors behind them after 5 years with one last 3-day edition in September, little did we know they were carefully plotting their next move. Unfortunately, there will be no more raving at the beautiful castle in Holsbeek - but a brand new exciting location in Vilvoorde promises to offer a similar iconic and unique backdrop on September 13, 14 and 15. Other than a move to a more urban environment, Horst will greatly expand its artistic endeavours (most notably with the addition of 'The Lab', a series of camps for young creatives in different disciplines) while it maintains the refreshing formula of carefully selected avant garde music performers. We asked co-promoter Tim Borguet a few questions about what the near future of this special Belgian festival looks like.

So you’re back! How come we all thought the last edition was going to be the very last Horst ever?

The end is never the end. It’s always a new beginning. Horst never had the ambition to stop existing altogether. However, we felt that the five-year momentum at Horst Castle was a turning point for our new ambitions. The impact on its green surroundings only increased as the festival expanded. On top of that, we wanted to explore new horizons and integrate the insights we gained in a new story, placed in an urban setting. We felt very strongly about Horst becoming a movement rather than just a festival that takes place once a year. 

What motivated the move to Vilvoorde? What does the site look like?

The city of Vilvoorde recently purchased ASIAT, a former military site with a pair of iconic cooling towers in the backdrop - and part of the development project Vilvoorde-North. Eventually, it will grow into a city district with various facilities and public functions. The ambitions for the site are high and share a common ground with Horst’s mission to develop spaces and cities with a festival as catalyst. The site comprises 6 hectares of urban space with over 20 warehouses, all shaped in different sizes and arranged within a maze of corridors and both green and urban spaces. In fact, ASIAT is the ultimate, blank canvas for Horst. It reminds us of an long lost power structure, almost irrelevant in today's society. A space to be activated and infused with artistic, creative and urban initiatives.

That’s not the only thing that will change: the exhibition will be opened a lot sooner than the music festival, right?

Yes, the new exhibition program will kick off this summer and ends after the festival. In this way, we can activate the new urban district before the festivities take place. As of December, Evelyn Simons joined our team as in-house visual arts curator. Now we're able to fully unlock the transdisciplinary potential of our organization and our events. For this new chapter, we are expanding our activities to include more reflection, more debate, and more exchange. A strong focus goes to cross-disciplinary practices, hovering between autonomous artworks, community projects, stage design, scenography, and architecture.

And then there are the “Labs” for young creatives. Tell us exactly what those will look like…

The Lab is a platform for experiment, knowledge, co-creation, universal inspiration and network-building. It’s a setting where cutting-edge creatives, pioneers, and inspiring outcasts inspire the next generation of young creatives. This year, the first series of 4 Labs will open to over 70 international young thinkers from all backgrounds. All 4 Labs (The Music Lab, the Design Lab, the Art Lab, and the Architecture Lab) will all be held in July already.

Each Lab is led by an inspiring team of influential minds and welcomes a mix of young creatives to unlock new frontiers and unravel their own talents. Coaches and participants work together towards an ambitious outcome that relates to Horst and often infiltrates the exhibition or the festival. The Labs are for here for anyone with a passion for learning, sharing, and a desire to be involved in the evolution of artistic and creative industries. More info about this project and the registration will be out in early May.

That seems quite the hussle. What’s the reason you want to organize something like this?

Because we strongly believe that creativity is our new human capital in an ever-changing digitizing world. Creative cultures increase in economic value but still encounter many barriers. More specifically, young creatives face the paradox of experience: a gap in practical experience, placed between an academic degree and early professional practice. The Labs are a consistent effort to further inspire and stimulate creative entrepreneurship, which is key for the development of many promising young talents. 

As far as the actual music festival goes: can we expect the same trusted recipe again? (unique stage designs, intelligent artist bookings, a communal organization of the campsite, etc.)

Yes, all that and much more. With 3 days, 4 stages, 60 artists and over 15.000 visitors, Horst Festival will be bigger and more ambitious than ever. Musically, we will showcase a broad range of contemporary dance music: from techno to EBM to various strains of leftfield-oriented and experimental pop acts. The program features a consciously curated selection of emerging and established Belgian and international artists, producers, DJ's and performers who share adventure and flair as a common denominator. The festival momentum also counts as the final destination of Horst’s artistic itinerary. The symbiosis between thought-provoking critical artworks, urban experiments, inventive stage design, scenography, architecture and the collective experience of an immersive music festival, will hopefully refresh the overall perception of what a festival can be.