Festival season ‘still possible despite the cancellation of Glastonbury’

Tom Horton, PA
·2-min read

A festival season is “still possible” this year despite the cancellation of Glastonbury, according to the chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals.

Paul Reed told BBC Breakfast that if the Government ensures organisers of music events can access insurance there is hope that smaller festivals can still go ahead.

On Thursday, Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis announced that the festival has been cancelled for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic.

99% of Glastonbury tents taken home
(Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Reed said: “I will say about Glastonbury that it is a different beast to most festivals and most likely ran out of time due to the size and complexity of the event.

“For most festivals the cut-off point is more likely the end of March.”

He said we are at a “serious point in the pandemic and festivals only want to return when it is safe to do so”.

Watch: Glastonbury canceled for second year running

“This is devastating news about Glastonbury, not least for the amount of staff and freelancers and companies involved in delivering the event, but a festival season is still possible for this year if Government act now on insurance.”

He added that festivals are currently struggling to get insurance for coronavirus-related cancellations.

“We do need Government to intervene in this issue,” he said.

Glastonbury Festival 2015 – Day 1
(Ben Birchall/PA)

A Government spokeswoman said: “We are in regular dialogue with public health experts to agree a realistic return date for festivals and other large events.

“Once we are confident we have this, we will be working with organisers to unlock the barriers they face to restarting – including challenges getting insurance.

“Yesterday’s decision by the festival organisers reflects the sad fact that the public health outlook did not make it likely 200,000 people could be together without social distancing measures in just a few months’ time.

“We are continuing to help festivals with the £1.5 billion Culture Recovery Fund, with many already receiving this support.”

A statement from Glastonbury said organisers had moved “heaven and earth” to try to put the event on this year.

The festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset was sold out for 2021 because so few people have asked for a refund from last year, when headliners Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar were all due to perform.

Watch: Pandemic woes for artists that rely on outdoor festivals