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Horst Festival 2023: an inclusive and engaged experience

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Julie Peustjens

Julie's sharp, offbeat humour is the first thing we might mention. But behind it lies a great deal of professionalism and determination. For several years, she was a digital project manager at Dogstudio and laniche. Today, she co-manages the media kingkong with ease. Like a great chef, Julie writes content with a spicy pen of her own, to the delight of hungry readers.

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The 2023 Horst Festival was held on May 5-7 at the Asiat Park in Vilvoorde. A genuine celebration of art, electronic music and inclusivity. The organisers succeeded in creating a one-of-a-kind multidisciplinary event, spotlighting progressive values whilst simultaneously providing a quality musical and artistic experience. Let us tell you a little bit more about it…

Fully committed to environmental issues, the Horst Festival firstly offers a deposit-return system for all drinks, cans included. This initiative enables festival-goers to adopt responsible behaviour as regards waste – and we totally love that! At Horst, there is no rubbish littering the ground. That an event of such a scale is finally coming to grips with the problem of sustainability should serve as an example to many others.


No waste is produced either as regards food and drink tickets. Each festival-goer has on their bracelet a QR code which can be recharged by means of a terminal or a banking application. A simple and effective approach which also allows avoiding standing in queues or worrying about payment methods (and thus potentially losing them). A fluid and modern experience which deserves to be wholeheartedly welcomed.

Inclusion at the heart of the festival

What really made the difference when we attended the Horst Festival was the sense of inclusivity which prevailed on-site. The event is committed to creating a safe and welcoming space for all, irrespective of gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or identity. It was uplifting to see this openness of spirit (which on the face of it seemed to be quite natural and unaffected) where everyone felt accepted and respected – if it could be like that everywhere, all the time, it would be wonderful!


To guarantee this sense of inclusivity, the festival put together a ‘Care Collective,’ consisting of trained people to whom one could turn at any time if we did not feel comfortable – they were everywhere on the site in large numbers. It was comforting to know that there were these people on-site to help and support us if needed. This well thought-out system is witness to a genuine commitment to the safety and the well-being of festival-goers.

As far as the artistic aspect of the festival is concerned, we adored the eclectic mix which the artworks formed throughout the festival site and on the music stages, all of them designed by talented architects. These elements created a unique atmosphere, blending aestheticism and underground. The art installations added a fascinating visual dimension to the musical experience. – We in particular enjoyed the video work by the Sicilian artist Elisa Giardina Papa and the Moroccan artist Meriem Bennani, which explore forms of dissident and disobedient citizenship.

In short, the Horst festival ticks all of the boxes as regards what we expect from a festival in 2023. It sums up, over its 3 days, what we would wish was applied in our society on a daily basis. Go on, just be patient a little longer…

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