Clockenflap, Hong Kong’s largest annual music festival, which was due to be held Nov. 22-24, has been cancelled. The decision, announced on Friday, follows an increase in violence and disruption in the city emerging from the ongoing political struggle.
“Due to the escalation of the crisis this week, and therefore the uncertainty this creates for the coming weeks, Clockenflap 2019 will be cancelled,” organizers said in a statement posted online and circulated via social media. “Until this week we were fully committed to delivering the festival. Unfortunately the situation has now made this impossible.”
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Clockenflap was established 14 years ago and has grown to become one of the largest contemporary music events in Asia. Bands due to have played this year include: Mumford and Sons, Halsey, Lil Pump, Bombay Bicycle Club, David Boring and Kevin Kaho Tsui. More than 50 local acts were also set to perform.
The decision to call off Clockenflap is the highest-profile cancellation of an entertainment and leisure event in Hong Kong, but not the first. On Thursday, the CineAsia film industry conference and trade show due to have been held in the second week of December, was also cancelled. The Asia Video Summit, a three-day conference previously called CASBAA, was cancelled by trade body the Asia Video Industry Association, which then shifted the event to Singapore earlier this month instead.
Previously, the Hong Kong Tennis Open which should have taken place in Victoria Park in October, was postponed. Victoria Park has instead become a meeting point for protesters and the starting point for multiple — legal and illegal — pro-democracy marches.
The civic protests that seek to halt the growing influence and authoritarianism flowing from Beijing have now entered their 22nd week. While the first three months saw only sporadic outbreaks of violence, the past two months have turned much nastier.
In the past week, the disruption has moved onto university campuses and across the city’s transport infrastructure. All schools have been closed since Thursday. The same day, police fired 1,200 tear gas rounds as they attempted to storm one university campus, which they said had been turned into a bomb factory.
Anti-government protesters blocked two of the three tunnels connecting Hong Kong Island to the Kowloon peninsula, closed roads in New Territories and laid obstacles in the roads of the Central commercial, financial and leisure district.
One event that has braved the troubles this week has been the first edition of the Festival de Cannes Film Week in Hong Kong. Already fully committed, the mini-festival kicked off on Tuesday night at the spectacular K11 Musea in the recently constructed Victoria Dockside area, with industry figures Johnnie To and Ann Hui in attendance. While screenings and events have been ongoing, the opening night’s red carpet parade was cancelled.
“We wanted to continue with the event and to show solidarity with the industry here,” Cannes’ managing director Thierry Fremaux told Variety. “But we also felt it right not to do the red carpet, and be seen celebrating at a time when so many people are distressed. It would been the wrong feeling, and have sent the wrong signal.”