As predicted, a number of UK festivals, among them Black Deer in Kent, have been forced call off their 2021 events at the last minute after yesterday’s government U-turn on lifting remaining coronavirus restrictions on 21 June.
Black Deer, which has a daily capacity of 10,000, was scheduled for 25–27 June, having already postponed by a week to be after the 21st, the final date for lifting all restrictions in England under the UK government’s now-abandoned roadmap. The Americana event, which debuted in 2018, would have featured a line-up that included Van Morrison, Robert Plan’s Saving Grace, Jake Bugg, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Imelda May, Band of Skulls and Foy Vance.
Trade body LIVE had warned that any delay to the 21 June reopening date would wipe an estimated 5,000 concerts, festivals and events from the calendar and cost the live music industry hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenues.
“We can’t quite put into words how we are feeling right now,” say Black Deer organisers on social media. “The delay by the government on the easing of restrictions means we’re unable to bring you Black Deer Festival 2021. It’s devastating news for all connected with Black Deer. But we’ll be back in 2022.”
— Black Deer Festival (@blackdeerfest) June 14, 2021
Elsewhere, several other smaller events have also thrown in the towel, with Glastonferry (5,000-cap.) in Warrington, Bingley Weekender (5,000-cap.) in West Yorkshire and Noisily (2,000-cap.) in Leicestershire among other festivals saying the four-week delay makes their 2021 events untenable.
A statement from Noisily, scheduled for 8–12 July, says: “It is with heavy heavy hearts that we write this message. Today’s announcement was the one that we dreaded – a delay to the release from Covid restrictions. The woods and fields in which Noisily takes place are a part of a working farm, meaning that there is no scope to delay until later in the summer, which means that Noisily 2021 cannot go ahead.”
“We can’t quite put into words how we are feeling right now”
“We know how gutting this is for you all,” organisers continue. “We needed that soul food of meeting in the woods once again, and after pouring our heart and soul into the event on a wing and a prayer, hoping against hope – to have all of that dashed again is beyond devastating.”
Other festivals under threat include popular Sheffield event Tramlines (30,000-cap.), which begins on 24 July, just five days after the new ‘freedom day’.
As the Sheffield Star reports, “that means it could legally still go ahead if the government sticks to the new date”; however, “any further postponement of lockdown easing would force its cancellation, with the existing limit on capacity for outdoor events standing at 4,000, leaving little time to react should that happen.”
Latitude (35,000-cap.), meanwhile, is still on at the time of writing, according to Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn.
In an update posted to the Latitude Twitter account, Benn asks ticketholders to give the company “a little more time” to digest yesterday’s announcement, saying that a decision on the festival should be made by the end of the week. However, the delay doesn’t mean “the end of our hopes for Latitude this year”, says Benn.
Latitude 2021, headlined by Wolf Alice, the Chemical Brothers and Bastille, takes place from 22 to 25 July.
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