Can festivals go ahead? UK summer music events still going ahead amid likely delay to 21 June restrictions

Several major festivals have been cancelled this year due to ongoing uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Ongoing lockdown restrictions has forced all kinds of plans to be put on hold this year, from weddings and holidays, to sporting and music events.

Large-scale festivals are among the events that have been hit hard by lockdown measures, with limits on social gatherings making it difficult for organisers to press ahead.

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Glastonbury Festival is just one of the events to have fallen victim to restrictions, with organisers Michael and Emily Eavis announcing earlier this year that it would not be going ahead for the second year running.

Boomtown Fair music festival has been postponed until August 2022 (Photo: Shutterstock)

The pair said they tried to “move heaven and earth” to make an in-person event a reality this year, but the uncertainty around restrictions made it impossible.

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Organisers of the Boomtown Fair music festival also announced that this summer’s event would not be going ahead back in April, with the cancellation blamed on uncertainty around the pandemic and the lack of a government-backed insurance scheme.

The festival was due to take place in August, at which point it is hoped that all coronavirus restrictions in England will be lifted, but organisers said they were not been given a clear indication of what size events would be able to take place, or what safety requirements would be needed to allow the event to go ahead.

However, the UK government’s plan to lift limits on social contact entirely from 21 June has seen many organisers decide to go ahead with festivals this year, with various events still due to take place.

Can festivals go ahead?

Under current guidance, organised events in England can take place indoors with 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lowest.

For outdoor events, 4,000 people or 50 per cent of a site or venue’s capacity can attend, again whichever is lowest.

The government has also made a special provision for large, outdoor seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed around the venue, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower. This provision can be used by venues with a seated capacity of 16,000 or above.

For events with mixed seating and standing areas, including music, elite sporting events and non-elite/professional spectator events, the capacity cap will be calculated as 25 per cent of seated capacity, irrespective of any standing capacity.

All spectators admitted under this provision must be seated and should not access the venue’s standing capacity to view the event.

Where crowds cannot be seated at a large outdoor venue for the duration of the event, or the seated capacity does not exceed 16,000, the cap of 50 per cent of the site’s capacity up to a maximum of 4,000 people will apply.

By 21 June, the government plans to remove all legal limits on social contact, meaning large-scale events like festivals should be able to go ahead unimpeded. However, the lifting of restrictions in England is now expected to be delayed by one month until 19 July.

Similarly, a full easing of restrictions is not expected to take place in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland until late June at the earliest, but again, this will be dependent on various factors, with the devolved governments to decide if it is safe to do so.

Are any festivals still going ahead?

Both Reading and Leeds Festival are still expected to go ahead this summer, over the bank holiday weekend from 27 to 29 August.

The Isle of Wight Festival is also still taking place from 16 to 19 September, as well as Slam Dunk Festival on 4 and 5 September.

Other events still expected to take place this summer include:

Download Festival, 4 to 6 June, Donington Park, Leicestershire. Test event with limited capacity of 10,000.

Deer Shed Festival, 20 July to 1 August, Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire

Latitude, 22 to 25 July, Henham Park, Suffolk

Nozstock: The Hidden Valley, 22 to 25 July, Rowden Paddocks, Herefordshire

Truck Festival, 23 to 25 July, Hill Farm, Oxfordshire

Kendal Calling, 29 July to 1 August, Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria

Proms, 30 July to 11 September, The Royal Albert Hall, BBC Radio 3, BBC TV and online

Bloodstock, 11 to 15 August, Catton Park, Derbyshire

Creamfields, 26 to 29 August, Daresbury

Rewind Festival, throughout August, Scone Palace, Perth; Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield; Temple Island Meadows, Henley-On-Thames

Solfest, 27 to 29 August, Cumbria

Victorious Festival, 27 to 29 August, Southsea

Neighbourhood Weekender, 3 to 5 September, Victoria Park, Warrington

Wireless Festival, 10 to 12 September, London

TRNSMT Festival, 10 to 12 September, Glasgow

Parklife Festival, 11 to 12 September, Manchester

Isle of Wight Festival, 16 to 19 September, Newport

Sound City, 1 to 3 October, Liverpool