The Handbook
The Handbook

Commonly believed to be Europe’s biggest gathering of backed-up Portaloos, Glastonbury has just been cancelled. Again.

The West Country mega-festival was due to celebrate in style this summer with Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar all headlining, while Diana Ross was billed as the Sunday afternoon ‘legend’. It was going to be the come-back that we were all waiting for. The ultimate celebration of the end of the virus. Until Michael and Emily Eavis took to Twitter yesterday.

Quite reasonably the uncertainty around the virus was too much for the mega-festival to bear, with acts planning their schedules and contracts due to be signed for everything from catering to Portaloos, a quick decision was clearly needed.

Glastonbury is a huge machine, the logistics of hosting a three-day event for 200,000 fans are awesomely complex, and adding in the requirement to keep them safe from a raging pandemic was obviously a bridge too far.

Disappointed fans will be given the opportunity to roll their £50 deposits over for another year, which is something at least, meaning they’ll have booked tickets in 2019 for a 2022 event!

Glastonbury is a huge machine, the logistics of hosting a three-day event for 200,000 fans are awesomely complex...

And, of course, it all has us wondering if this is the end of the 2021 festival season? After all, if the very jewell in Britain’s live entertainment crown, Glasto, can’t even make it work then surely others will follow suit.

And the hope is, no, not necessarily.

Other festivals haven’t immediately fallen into line, it’s notable that Download Festival has today announced that they are very much still planning to go ahead and will be updating festival-goers in March. Meanwhile Isle of Wight Festival boss John Giddings told NME Magazine that he was confident there’s enough time to get things in place for the summer, saying “I think you’d probably need for 50% of the audience to be vaccinated, and for 50% to be able to get a test in a very short period of time, like five-to-10 minutes… I don’t think that’s unrealistic. Isle Of Wight Festival is six months away, it’s not tomorrow. I just want to help accelerate the process.”

Ultimately the future of 2021’s festival season rests with the government’s and society’s efforts reverse the spread of Coronavirus. For their part, Boris and his team’s progress on vaccination has been encouraging and it is likely we’ll be in a good place by the summer.

And while a whale of an event like Glastonbury needs a very long run up, smaller festivals may be able to pivot more rapidly. Perhaps, then, we’ll see a raft of new festivals or a proliferation of smaller events, all of which could in fact lead to a richer and more diverse. festival scene.

The real question, of course, is that even with testing and vaccines, will people still want to congregate in huge, densely packed crowds again?

We can only hope…


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