Travel chaos tarnishes party for festival-goers at Lollapalooza in Berlin

Travel chaos tarnishes party for festival-goers at Lollapalooza in Berlin
Crowds of people at Berlin's Hoppegarten subway station. Photo: DPA.
Crowds of thousands of people were left angry at the end of Lollapalooza, a major music festival on the outskirts of Berlin, after transport logjam led to many of them waiting several hours before they could return home.

On the way home from Lollapalooza on the eastern outskirts of Berlin on Saturday and early in the morning on Sunday, 30 festival-goers suffered from circulatory problems, with some collapsing. There were tight crowds and public transport delays at the popular music festival.

Lollapalooza organizer Tommy Nick said people who needed attention had been given water and glucose by paramedics. Police reported that there were no serious injuries or life-threatening situations.

The event team of the two-day music festival on Sunday expressed regret on Twitter over the incident. They praised festivalgoers for remaining calm, yet apologized for “how long it took for many of you to get back.”

Át the end of the festival’s first day, around 3,000 people had been waiting in or in front of the Hoppegarten subway station at 1:00am, according to a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson. The platform was crowded for hours, extending what would normally take about one hour to reach central Berlin to up to four hours.

Emergency services also had trouble locating people who needed help due to the crowds. Some people were even asking the police for water.

As irritation amongst the large group of people grew, some visitors decided to takes buses instead due to the long lineups at the nearest subway station. But the shuttle buses were also completely full and delayed.

Festivalgoers took to social media to complain about disturbing scenes in the crowd, long waiting times on public transport and blocked exits at the festival.

Some festival exits remained closed to prevent overcrowding, leaving many visitors questioning why they weren’t allowed out.

On her way to the second day of Lollapalooza, one women in the subway described her experience the night before as “really unpleasant.”

“Imagine you were claustrophobic, you'd go crazy,” she said.

But Nick rejected accusations that departure for visitors was badly organized. Trains were arranged to arrive every 10 minutes instead of the normally scheduled 20 minutes and longer trains were used, he said.  

According to DPA though, at one point people had to wait almost an hour before the next S-Bahn train to Berlin arrived.

Circulatory problems or weaknesses are not unusual at events of this kind, Nick argued. This often happens at festivals because “people have been on their feet all day and may be a bit dehydrated,” he said.

Chaos during departure isn’t the only thing that overshadowed the first day of the festival.

Visitors arriving on Saturday were also inconvenienced by traffic and planning problems, for which Lollapalooza’s event team also apologized.

85,000 people were expected to attend the American indie, pop, rock, hip hop and electronic festival in Berlin this year.  

In 2016, there were 70,000 attendees at the sold out Lollapalooza Berlin festival. Last year’s edition took place at a location closer to central Berlin in Treptower Park.

The first edition of Lollapalooza Berlin in 2015 also took place in another location in central Berlin.

There were no reports of tight crowds and chaos departing either of the Lollapalooza instalments in the capital city last year and the previous year.