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Half Of UK Festivals Cancelled This Year

Matt Crisp July 9, 2021

It has been reported that up to 51 per cent of music festivals in the UK have been cancelled this year due to the ongoing certainty with the coronavirus, and the increase in cases of the Delta variant.

Music Week reports that the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) conducted a study of its membership, revealing that just over half who hadn’t already cancelled were still actively planning to press ahead with their events this year, while 22 per cent remain unsure.

The results of the survey were released as the government postponed the final stage of lifting COVID-19 restrictions, which was intended to allow large-scale events to take place with safety measures in place.

It had been expected that the government would release the early results from its Events Research Programme (ERP) pilot events ahead of the final lifting of restrictions, to allow festival organisers enough time to prepare their events.

However, the results have not been released, which has led to high profile figures including Andrew Lloyd Webber to issue threats of legal action if they were not shared soon.

The UK government has been accused ‘pushing live music off a cliff-edge’ and endangering the future of the industry by failing to publish the results, though it was confirmed on 24 June that test event data will be published ‘shortly’.

AIF’s survey also showed that 78 per cent of respondents who were still planning to go ahead with events said they would cancel or they were unsure about proceeding without any government-backed COVID-19 cancellation insurance in place.

However, at this stage, many said they were trying to hold out as long as they can for the government to make an announcement on the issue.

AIF members have spent an average of £451,500 in festival planning for 2021 to date, with costs ranging from £5,000 to £4 million. Organisers have spent, on average, 25 per cent of their overall costs. The survey covered festivals taking place from 23 July to 26 September with capacities ranging from 5,000-70,000.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “This is a milestone that nobody wanted to reach but, unfortunately, it has seemed inevitable for some time now thanks to the Government’s inaction and refusal to give organisers any kind of safety net that would allow them to continue to invest in their businesses and the supply chain with confidence.

“Make no mistake – these cancellations were entirely avoidable, and government must now change its position of reviewing insurance at step 4, as it will be far too late for most UK festivals. At this point, every day counts. If Government has any confidence in July 19 as a terminus date, they will back this now.”

He added that the association echos the urgent calls from the live music industry for full transparency and for the government to publish the ERP report to help inform event organisers so they can plan for the safe reopening of festivals this summer.

Many music fans will be keeping their fingers crossed, while some may now be waiting for next summer instead, and the full return of the UK’s big festivals. If you’re looking for coach hire to Glastonbury, get in touch and book now.