United Kingdom

Isle of Wight Festival is moved back to September after June proved too early

The Isle of Wight Festival has been moved back by three months to September so it can still take place this year, after the planned end of coronavirus rules in June.

The music festival had been due to take place from June 17 to 20 - but this would have been just before the Government hopes to lift restrictions on June 21.

Now, organisers say they are 'thrilled to be able to welcome everyone to the island' on September 16 to 19, and want to 'bring back as many of the artists as we can'.

Adult tickets cost £185 for the weekend, and its £170 for students, £165 for children aged 13 to 17, just £5 for children aged six to 12 and free for those five and under. 

The announcement comes one day after the cancellation of Download Festival, which had been scheduled for Donington Park in Leicestershire on June 4 and 6.

The only major festival in England due to take place after June 21 which has not yet been confirmed as going ahead or not is BST Hyde Park, scheduled for July 9 to 11.

The Isle of Wight Festival has been moved from June until September so it can still take place

Other festivals have also rescheduled until late summer or early autumn, such as Parklife in Manchester which moved its 2021 edition from June to September.

But Glastonbury - due to have been on June 23 to 27 – was cancelled for a second year in a row in January after organisers said they tried to 'move heaven and earth'.

Others such as Reading, Leeds and Creamfields, all on the August bank holiday weekend, have seen a boost in ticket sales since confirming they will go ahead.

However doubts were raised over Reading and Leeds today after councillors warned 'nothing is agreed' - with the decision yet to be approved by licensing bosses.

Wireless on July 2 to 4 in London and Latitude from July 22 to 25 in Suffolk are both expected to go ahead, while Camp Bestival is still scheduled for July 29 to August 1.

Music fans watch Pennywise at Download Festival in June 2016. It has been cancelled this year 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his lockdown exit strategy on Monday of last week

It's still unclear whether BST Hyde Park, pictured in July 2017, will take place in London in July

An Isle of Wight Festival spokesman said today: 'The Isle of Wight Festival is a summer staple and two years without being together on the island is too long. 

What is the current status on UK music festivals this summer? 

'That's why we're so excited to announce that we're moving the festival to September 16 to 19, 2021. We're thrilled to be able to welcome everyone to the island in September. 

'We're aiming to bring back as many of the artists as we can but whatever happens, rest assured, you'll enjoy a stellar line-up over the festival weekend. It will be the perfect place to see out the summer in spectacular fashion. The Isle of Wight Festival is always guaranteed to provide unforgettable moments. 

'It's standing arm in arm with fellow festivalgoers in Seaclose Park. It's watching the sun go down over the Main Stage, cheering as the fireworks light up the sky.  It's revelling in over 50 years of musical history and discovering incredible new artists. It's experiencing the inherently magical island atmosphere. It's making friends for life and memories to last a lifetime.'

Tickets are on sale now, with all passes for the June festival remaining valid – but people also able to request a refund from their ticket provider if they wish.

Last week, Reading and Leeds organisers declared the three-day event, which is due to be headlined by Liam Gallagher and Stormzy, would take place after the Prime Minister's statement on Monday.

Festival Republic director Melvin Benn said at the time: 'We're enthusiastic, we're excited, and we're certain that it's going to go ahead.'

He added that crowds attending the events are likely to be asked to show an NHS app carrying a Covid-19 vaccine or be tested so they can carry a Covid-free status. 

He said he was confident in projections that everyone will have received a first jab by June 21 and a second by August 9, three weeks in advance of Reading and Leeds. 

How Reading and Leeds could operate at 13% and 23% capacity with social distancing 

Reading could operate at 13 per cent of capacity while Leeds would be at 23 per cent if the festivals followed social distancing guidelines, a study found.

Geospatial analysis company Esri UK looked at how many people could hypothetically attend the festivals if they had to space out.

It found 13,970 festival-goers could fit within Reading's festival site compared to its 105,000 capacity, while at Leeds, 17,120 could attend instead of 75,000, or 23 per cent of the normal volume.

Reading could operate at 13 per cent of capacity - 13,970 instead of 105,000 - if all attendees following social distancing rules

The company also determined that if Glastonbury had gone ahead, only 5 per cent (4,967) of the Pyramid Stage's estimated 100,000 capacity would have been possible under the same social distancing formula.

The method used placed a single person inside a two-metre diameter circle, following the usual two-metre social distancing guidelines.

But this was with an additional two metres of space between each circle, allowing some space for people to move around, to represent a hypothetical estimation of festival capacity.

Leeds Festival could operate at 23 per cent of capacity- 17,120 fans instead of 75,000

Sam Bark, cartographer at Esri UK, said: 'We wanted to examine how many people could hypothetically fit within a festival site ahead of the summer festival season.

'Spatial analysis can help give event organisers an indication of capacity for any type of event, either outdoors or indoors.

'Obviously, the figures come with some caveats, as most festival goers are in groups of more than one and people don't remain stationary, but the criteria can be easily adjusted.

'For example, the size of bubbles can be increased, or additional space could be added between each bubble, which would reduce capacity further.'

Up to 100,000 tickets sold out within hours of going on sale last Wednesday following the announcement.

However, Reading Borough Council has urged caution, with a spokesman saying: 'Reading Festival is a major highlight of the cultural calendar in Reading and, like everyone, the Council would love to see it return this summer.

'The Council notes Festival Republic's announcement last week that it would like to push ahead with this year's festival, but the Government has been clear its roadmap is dependent on many aspects. 

'For large events like the festival, the Government plans to pilot testing approaches from April. The outcome of that work, alongside event information submitted by Festival Republic and national guidance, will help the Council and Public Health colleagues make a decision on whether the festival can go ahead safely this summer.'

It comes after local councillor Graeme Hoskin said last Friday: 'What's become apparent from comments on social media and people contacting the council is that some people are under the impression that the council has approved Reading Festival taking place this summer.'

Speaking at Reading's Covid-19 Outbreak Engagement Board meeting, he added: 'That is not the case. Reading has not, and nor has anyone else, agreed anything.'

Mr Hoskin told how Reading Borough Council said a decision would have to be approved by its licensing department and other national bodies.

Meanwhile in Leeds, where its sister festival is held, council chiefs were also cautious, with a spokesman saying: 'The safety of our residents and visitors will always be our priority and, while we are optimistic about Leeds Festival making a return in 2021, we have yet to see whether the government's criteria to allow this type of event will be met.

'We urge people to continue following all the rules and guidelines so that we have the best possible chance of less restrictions by summer.'

Festival bosses, who will have raked in millions selling weekend tickets at more than £200 a head, have been approached for comment. 

It is not yet clear whether they would look to postpone the event or refund customers if it the council stops it from going ahead.

Organisers have also said recently insurance for the event was 'impossible to buy', but are believed to be hopeful of a package in tomorrow's Budget.

After the tickets sold out last Thursday, Reading Festival organisers said in a statement: 'After the year we had, it was always going to happen.

'We never lost faith, and today we're excited to say that - thanks to everyone who managed to purchase a ticket - Reading Festival 2021 is now officially SOLD OUT. It's going to be a summer to remember, and we can't wait to welcome you back into the fields.'

Britain's biggest rock and heavy metal festival Download was cancelled yesterday for the second consecutive year after organisers said it would be 'impossible' to hold.

The event, which is held at Donington Park in Leicestershire, was due to take place in June with headliners Kiss, Biffy Clyro and System Of A Down.

But organisers said it had become clear they could not go ahead after the Prime Minister said Covid-19 rules would not be removed until after it is due to take place.

However, Download will return from June 10 to 12 in 2022 with veteran heavy metal band Iron Maiden replacing System Of A Down as headliners at the same site.

The Government hopes to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact by June 21 at the earliest, which would mean larger events including festivals could go ahead.

Download did not say why it had chosen to cancel instead of reschedule its 2021 dates, but organisers will put tickets on sale this Friday for the 2022 event. 

Reading Festival, pictured in 2016, may not go ahead this summer despite tickets selling out

Liam Gallagher (left) and Stormzy (right) are among the stars on the bill for Reading and Leeds

The Reading and Leeds festival is set to take place at Little John's Farm in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds. Pictured: A tweet last week revealing that it would go ahead

The line-up for this year includes Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone and Lewis Capaldi

A Download spokesman said yesterday: 'Following the announcement of the Government's road map and despite the extraordinary efforts the NHS have put in to roll out the vaccine, we can sadly now confirm that Download Festival will no longer be taking place this year, but we have exciting news for 2022.

'We never gave up hope of bringing the festival back to Donington this June and had been working so hard behind the scenes to make that happen, but, sadly, we now know it's not possible. We're heartbroken for everyone in the Download family, from artists to suppliers and of course our passionate Download fans.'

Confirming the festival would return in 2022, the statement continued: 'We'd like to take this opportunity to thank the NHS for their extraordinary efforts in rolling out the vaccine, as well as thanking all of you for your patience and for keeping the spirit of Download alive until we can be together again.'

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) warned yesterday that independent festivals could be forced to cancel if they do not receive government-backed insurance and VAT intervention by the end of March.

More than 20million Britons have now received their first dose of Covid vaccines, and about 800,000 people have been given both injections

Events require Covid-19 related cancellation insurance in case the roadmap is delayed, it said.

AIF chief executive Paul Reed said: 'The Prime Minister has set out a road map and a 'no earlier than' date for festivals, and audiences have responded, demonstrating a huge appetite to be back in the fields this summer.

'But we need government interventions on insurance and VAT before the end of this month when festivals will need to decide whether they can commit to serious amounts of upfront capital.

'Now that we have a 'no earlier than' date, insurance is the last remaining barrier to planning.'

The UK festival circuit has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with its 2020 season effectively wiped out.

Festivals added £1.76billion in gross value to the economy in 2019, with almost one in three Britons watching Glastonbury on TV. 

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