“I’m personally very thankful for the star performers who stepped in last minute,” Dusan Kovacevic, EXIT founder and CEO, said in a statement. “They are our heroes and our friends forever.”
Organizers said 180,000 people — about 45,000 a day — attended the festival, which wrapped up on July 11. More than half the attendees came from outside of Serbia, hailing from 70 other countries, said organizers, who also noted that tickets sold out within a week of the festival.
The festival was hardly a sure thing. Serbia has had a complicated experience confronting the pandemic. Last summer, with virus cases spiking, widespread protests broke out in the country, including in Belgrade and Novi Sad. They soon morphed into a wider movement against President Aleksandar Vučić for his handling of the pandemic. Protesters expressed displeasure with government decisions to hold a general election, restart large sport events and reopen nightclubs too early, which they believe led to the need for a second lockdown.
This year Serbia has pushed aggressively to vaccinate its population and avoid further infection waves. Just shy of 40% of the Serbian population is fully vaccinated. As of this week, 7,077 people in Serbia had died from COVID-19 and the country has one of the lowest death rates in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins University.