Marcel Mingers is a festival don; he has been promoting them all his life, and has come up with plenty of wild ideas that have become a reality. His most famous one right now is Extrema Festival, which happens in both Belgium and The Netherlands. But this year will also see the first ever Mandala, a festival designed by Marcel’s young daughter in a rough drawing. She dreamt of a place in the wild for nice people to party, and her father made it happen.
Share the story with friends, colleagues & see how they react. And then I create, till I feel that it comes from the heart...He is also behind Solar Festival, which brings together creatives from all over the world and finds wonderful stage design, art and plenty of installations as well as world class musical offerings all coming together. We caught up with the man to talk about all this, how the game has changed and what he thinks makes a good festival.
How did you get into dance music and festival promotion, did you ever DJ or work club nights first?
In 1992 I organized my first festival ‘The Ultimate Mega Party’. It was one of the first house parties there was one house club but that was it. When I was 19 I first came in touch with house music. I saw that 1200 people got mesmerized. People went crazy, felt free, relaxed and one. It was sexy and extravagant. When I was looking at the crowed I realised that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
How do you go about starting a new festival, what are the first steps and hardest things to get in place?
Of course you have to make a marketing and budget plan. Share the story with friends, colleagues and see how they react. And then I create, till I feel that it comes from the heart.
Are the Dutch government and councils and stuff helpful and open to you doing these events or is it a battle?
We have a good relationship with the government. We need to deliver plans on time and stay on top off the communication.
I think we need to go back to no nonsense, feet in the sand, a drink, quality music & not too big...What’s the difference between all three of your events, Extrema, Solar and Mandala? Do you have all bases covered now?
Actually we organize 8 events this year; some indoor, a small one for Kings Day in the Netherlands and DIT (Do It Together) festival; every event has its own speerpunt.
Is it harder to stand out in 2016 now that there are so many festivals? Is there a breaking point, do you think, will some collapse and fail as there are just too many?
I think we need to go back to no nonsense, feet in the sand, a drink, quality music and not too big. People want to make contact, feel normal and happy. So we don’t want to go over the top and be bigger.
Give us some tips for anyone coming to Extrema in 2016 - what are you most excited about?
Of course Carl Cox is coming and bringing his friends. But I’m proud of the whole line-up! Did you see the lineup? Well you should, Danny Tenaglia, Flux Pavilion, Matthias Tanzmann, Loco Dice, Route 94… etc.
2 times a year we bring out the Extrema Magazine. One when the whole line-up is released & one after the family with beautiful pictures & stories...How different was it putting on a festival 20 years ago without the internet - did you have to do things by fax and post?
Laughs, I’m so used to do everything with my computer that I barely can remember how it was to fax things. But then we made Extrema Magazine. And the funny thing is we are doing that again, offline promotion is still an important thing! And I think it is taking its return.
2 times a year we bring out the Extrema Magazine. One when the whole line-up is released and one after the family with beautiful pictures and stories but also a sneak preview of the new season.
What are your top tips for festival survival? Are you someone who goes to lots yourself or do you prefers to be the man behind the scenes?
When I’m at my own festivals I will check everything, from the sanitary, backstage, food, trash cans. We have a really good team at the festivals. Later in the evening I take the time to have a drink, make a dance and talk to the visitors. I really like to hear what they think and feel how they experience the festival.
What’s your craziest story from putting on festivals over all these years?
In 1997 at the 2nd festival for Extrema Outdoor; in total there were 4500 people and the money poured in. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I was in shock. But one of my best memories I have was my time at Ibiza. It was the summer of 1998. I was on a mission and became the first organizer from Holland that got my regular evening for a party at Pacha. I worked day and night, networking, handing out flyers and putting on posters but that got me the spot at the most illustrious club.
Mandala Festival - 3-6 June 2016 - Netherlands
Extrema Outdoor Festival - 9th July 2016 - Netherlands
Solar Weekend Festival - 4-7 August 2016 - Netherlands