By Sian Hopkins | Comment Editor
As soon as Boris Johnson revealed his proposed road map of lifting lockdown restrictions in England, many festivals took to social media to announce their hopes to go ahead this summer, opening up ticket sales for summer 2021.
Monday’s announcement triggered a 600% rise in traffic to Ticketmaster according to the managing director of the site’s UK wing, Andrew Parsons, and there was no sign of it declining.
Within minutes some of the biggest UK festivals like Reading and Leeds, Boomtown and Love Saves the Day had sold out. The Huffingtonpost commented that “There are around 975 festivals in the UK, and last summer, almost all were cancelled due to the pandemic,” so Monday’s announcement had given a lot of hope to many avid festival goers. As soon as the announcement came through representatives for Reading and Leeds festival on Twitter sent out a tweet Reading: “LET’S GO” confirming their hope to go ahead this summer. Boomtown also released a handful more tickets for those who hadn’t bought them the year before and rolled over, stating: “Of course there are still bumps in the road ahead but rest assured we’re doing absolutely everything we can to make sure our incredible community can dance together again this August,” acknowledging the chance that the UK may not be exactly where it needs to be in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic by August but Johnson’s announcement suggests some hope.
There are questions however, about whether this excitement is all premature? Although so many of us have been restricted or put our life on hold surrounding the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, there is quite a jump from what feels like now till June, to go from not even being able to hug our friends to being sat on their shoulders singing in a crowd of thousands. With all the warnings of false negative and positive tests and any age dying from COVID-19 will we be able to take the risk by the time festival season comes around?
Whilst the UK Government has predicted that all adults will have had the first vaccine by July 2021 it begs the questions as to how this might affect the age range that attend British music festivals this year. Whilst most people are over 18 attending music festivals every year there are also a handful of young people and even more so this year with the social restrictions brought about by lockdown that may not have had access to the vaccine.
This will be a problem for any who have bought their tickets but not had their vaccine in time, as two of the leading music directors of top festivals believe, Musicians and their fans need to be told by the government that they must be vaccinated in order to attend music festivals this summer. With the inability to know whether the pandemic’s effects will have regressed in time for festival season, many festivals are not confirming their dates in case they find themselves in the same situation as last year.
This is a bigger issue for festivals and their directors than last year, because if they cannot gain insurance from the government it could bring about a huge dent in the music industry, many being unable to continue by 2022. Without the assurance of a national vaccine entry standard, festival organisers who still hope to win government insurance cover for cancellations may not be able to access recovery grants without the proper Government insurance.
Whilst the UK Government’s announcement created a bit of light at the end of the tunnel there is still a lot of paperwork to get through to make festival season possible this summer.