Organisers of the Westman Islands bank holiday festival are instituting added security measures this year, including the parsing out of ferry tickets and providing gender-divided sleeping bag space.
The festival, Verslunarmannahelgi (most often translated as “merchant’s weekend” or “bank holiday” in English) is held over the first weekend in August. While people will celebrate around the country, the most popular destination for the holiday has been the Westman Islands, which holds a festival every year. Turnout is usually very high, however, so this year, Vísir reports, the festival organising committee will be buying a portion of the tickets for the ferry from the mainland to the islands, to be parsed out later.
Festival director Páll Scheving Ingvarsson said that the decision was made due to the fact that ferry tickets sell out so quickly that those on their way to the festival are often unfairly blocked from attending by others. By parsing out the tickets, he said, the hope is that overcrowding on the ferry will not be an issue and everyone wanting to attend will be able to. He would not disclose how many of the possible ferry tickets the committee bought, but said they were purchased at face value, and will be sold as such.
Other precautions festival organisers are taking this year is providing “camping” space within a basketball arena, with sleeping bag areas divided by gender. When asked if this measure was taken in response to heated criticism last year that organisers dealt poorly with rapes occurring at the festival, Páll replied that this was “not exactly a response. We prefer to look at it as a means of ensuring better security.”
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