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Happytown - the aim is in the name

ATMO start-up to conquer Hamburg Metropolitan Region with its own festival

When people hear the name Glückstadt, herring comes to mind – this seaside town looks back on a centuries-old tradition of catching herring and whales. But, if Jonathan Hendess and Henrik Wiedwald have their way, Glückstadt will in future come to represent the extraordinary Happytown festival in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The modern culture festival is being held from July 5-7, 2019 for the second time in Glückstadt. The first festival in 2018 lived up to its name in full. All the generations were represented among the festivalgoers numbering between 3,500 and 5,000 in fine weather on the former docks on the Elbe.

A combination of artistic, cultural and sporting events

“The dockyard site provided us with inspiration,” said Wiedwald, 20, adding, “We realized the potential from the very first moment, seeing in our mind’s eye not only the stage and food trucks, but everything that would go to make up this festival’s special mix.” The two co-founders of ATMOwanted not only to set up yet another cool party, but to create an event linking up art, culture, sport, knowledge transfer and cuisine, “which had not been there in this form to date”. ATMO sees itself as a creative platform that offers young talent from a wide range of creative fields the opportunity to present themselves in projects.

Visitors become part of the artworks

“This approach is particularly clear in Happytown,” Wiedwald said. The festival’s aim is to establish a temporary location for as many cultural events as possible to create a colourful backdrop for festivalgoers. “The visitors become part of the artworks by means of art-in-progress, sometimes consciously – think body art – and sometimes unawares. This means that the festival changes by the hour,” Wiedwald explained. One artwork that will certainly be changing constantly is the graffiti wall, a 75-metre wall that will be given over to spray-painting. The Skate Area also invites visitors to let their hair down. A Skate Contest is to be held on the skating park in the festival grounds.

En route to a CO2-neutral festival

Along with the varied mix of events, sustainability is a major aspect of the Happytown concept. “All drinks and food containers will be returnable. We will do away with diesel generators and rely 100 per cent on power from renewable resources in Glückstadt’s municipal power station,” Wiedwald noted. The 2020 festival will aim to be entirely carbon-neutral. The Sunday will largely be given over to exchanging knowledge with poetry slams, lectures, speakers and workshops on themes like sustainability, innovation, society and culture.

Taking the party boat to Happytown

As part of the sustainability theme, the Happytown organizers have come up with alternative ways of getting to the festival which targets only the residents of Glückstadt happy, but people throughout the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. That means 5.3 million potential visitors to the festival. “We are currently working on 15,000 to 20,000, with some coming by rail or by ship,” Wiedwald expected. The festival is bigger this year: spread out over three days on three stages instead of just ten hours and one stage last year. “One of them is a party boat operating as festival shuttle bringing Hamburg residents to us from the jetties and then being turned into a stage at the dock where it ties up,” he said.

Free admission – “Festival for Everyman”

One thing that is not changing is the free admission. “This is after all a festival for everyone. Charging admission is not the point.” Various funding sources put the festival on a sound financial basis – from subsidies from various foundations through to sponsorships and crowd-funding to income from sales of drinks. 

Source and additional information:

Melissa KnausMay 3, 2019
nachhaltigkeit festival