Festivals 2021: Which ones are still going ahead?on March 17, 2021 at 1:51 am

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Glastonbury has had to cancel, Reading & Leeds is going ahead. What about the rest?

Fans at a festival

Last year, Covid-19 wiped out the UK’s summer festival season. Only a handful of shows were able to take place, and most of them were in car parks or socially-distanced green field sites.

This year, organisers are a little more optimistic.

With the vaccination programme under way and mass testing available, several events have put tickets on sale, confident that fans will be allowed to mosh, pogo and stage-dive with the risk of injury, rather than disease, their main concern.

Unfortunately, events scheduled early in the season – most notably Glastonbury – have already had to cancel, citing the lack of insurance if their festival had had to be pulled at short notice.

Others have moved to safer dates later in the summer, with a noticeable bottleneck over August bank holiday weekend.

To help you plan ahead, here’s what the UK’s biggest festivals have announced, with all information correct at the time of writing on 16 March, 2021.

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  • When: 27-29 August
  • Where: Victoria Park, London
  • Who: Jamie xx, Kano, Slowthai, Arlo Parks, Bicep

Organisers have moved the event from its usual slot in May to August bank holiday weekend, giving it a greater chance of proceeding unimpeded. “We can’t wait to welcome back live music in the UK and be back dancing with you all later this summer,” say organisers.

  • When: 27-29 August
  • Where: Kingham, Oxfordshire
  • Who: Chic, Sigala, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Zara Larsson

Held at Blur star Alex James’s farm in the Cotswolds, the Big Feastival will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the usual mix of music, food, comedy and kids’ entertainment. “We’re all in need of a serious celebration this year so we’re pulling out all the stops to ensure this is our best line-up yet,” said James. “Roll on August!”

  • When: 11-15 August
  • Where: Catton Park, Derbyshire
  • Who: Judas Priest, Kreator, Devin Townsend, Skindred

The long-running heavy metal festival has added an extra day to its line-up due to the postponement of last year’s event.

However, the festival had to revamp its line-up earlier this month, explaining that “due to the ongoing issues and restrictions surrounding Covid-19, a number of overseas bands are no longer able to be at Catton Park with us this Summer”. That included former headliners Mercyful Fate, who have been replaced on the bill by Kreator.

  • When: 11-15 August
  • Where: Newquay, Cornwall
  • Who: TBC

It’s been a rough two years for Boardmasters. They were forced to cancel their 2019 event due to severe storms, before Covid-19 wiped out their plans for 2020. Tickets from 2019 will still be valid for this year’s festival, which takes place on a cliff-top location overlooking Watergate Bay and Fistral Beach.

No headliners have been announced yet, but organisers say they’re “working hard behind the scenes” to make sure everything runs smoothly. “Don’t worry, if things change and we can’t go ahead you’ll be able to either keep your ticket for next year or get a refund,” they added in a statement.

  • When: 11-15 August
  • Where: Matterley Estate, Hampshire
  • Who: TBC

A five-day immersive musical and theatrical event, Boomtown has branded its 2021 comeback “The Gathering”, as a celebration of the return of social contact.

“Gatherings are a deep part of human connection and celebration and have been so for millennia, but in these current real-world times, they were also one of the first things to be outlawed. When we come together this will be The Gathering we’ve all been needing for so long…” they said in a statement.

Unusually, the festival is keeping its 2021 line-up under wraps secret until just before the gates open.

The Pixies
  • When: 9-11 July
  • Where: Hyde Park, London
  • Who: Pearl Jam, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, Pixies (pictured)

BST is one of the first festivals on the calendar this summer, with three shows planned for the second weekend in July. Unusually, Pearl Jam are headlining twice, on Friday and Saturday night, with Duran Duran bringing some 80s pop nostalgia to the Sunday show.

The event is normally held over two weekends – but the team couldn’t confirm whether more dates were due to be announced.

  • When: 29 July-1 August
  • Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset
  • Who: Fatboy Slim, Kelis, Groove Armada, Becky Hill, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mr Tumble

The family-friendly festival announced its return immediately after the government revealed its four-step plan for emerging from lockdown in February.

“There is literally nothing [my wife] Josie and I like more in life than standing in a field surrounded by family and friends, dressed in daft outfits dancing to amazing bands and DJs and Mr Tumble,” organiser Rob Da Bank told the BBC. “That’s exactly what we plan to be doing at Camp Bestival.”

  • When: 26-29 August
  • Where: Daresbury, Cheshire
  • Who: Deadmau5, Carl Cox, Eric Prydz, Tiesto, Bicep, Martin Garrix, Chase & Status

The UK’s biggest dance music festival sold out in record time when tickets went on sale in February. Organisers are promising fans “the party of the summer” after a year locked indoors.

Originally due to take place on the first weekend of June, Download pulled the plug on 1 March, after it became clear the UK wouldn’t emerge from lockdown until later in the summer.

Dates have been announced for 2022, with KISS (who were due to headline in 2020 and 2021) back at the top of the bill. They’ll be joined by Biffy Clyro and Iron Maiden at Donington Castle next June. Tickets for this year’s event can be carried over to 2022.

  • When: 2-5 September
  • Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Wiltshire
  • Who: Pixies, Bright Eyes, Little Simz, Big Thief, Perfume Genius

“We were ready for one hell of a party in 2020 so we did our best to keep most of the original line-up,” said organisers of End Of The Road, who are welcoming back almost 100 artists who were due to play last year’s festival. “It has been a strange year and we’d like to extend the biggest thank-you to everybody who’s bought a ticket and stood with us through these tough times.”

Tickets have now sold out, but resales will be available via Twickets.

Stormzy plays Glastonbury 2019

The sheer size of Glastonbury – which features more than 100 stages, thousands of performers and nearly 200,000 fans – meant they had to make a decision on their viability early.

The bad news broke in January: “In spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year,” said Michael and Emily Eavis. “We are so sorry to let you all down.”

Emily previously told the BBC she was looking into the possibility of filming performances at Worthy Farm if the festival couldn’t go ahead. “We really want to get busy with planning some gigs – even if they’re to be streamed.”

Brighton’s Great Escape normally takes place in May, making its 2021 edition impossible. The event, which focuses on up-and-coming talent, had previously announced its first 50 (of more than 400) acts, including BBC Sound Of 2021 winner Pa Salieu, and rising star Arlo Parks. However, the line-up has since disappeared from the festival’s official website.

Instead, the event will move online, with live-streamed concerts and music industry debates taking place on 13-14 May. The event will return in full on 11 May 2022.

  • When: 19-22 August
  • Where: Brecon Beacons, Wales
  • Who: TBC

Green Man boasts one of the most spectacular backdrops of all the UK’s festivals – nestled at the foot of the mountains in Wales’ Brecon Beacons National Park.

Organisers say they are “very confident” this year’s event can go ahead, although the Welsh government’s plan for emerging from lockdown is more cautious than the English equivalent. Information about tickets and the line-up “will be landing in the next couple of months”.

  • When: 16-19 September
  • Where: Seaclose Park, Newport
  • Who: Lionel Richie, Snow Patrol, Duran Duran (all TBC)

Originally scheduled for June, the Isle of Wight festival has been pushed back by three months. No acts have been announced yet, but organisers said they were “aiming to bring back as many of the artists as we can” from the 2020 line-up. That means the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Duran Duran, The Chemical Brothers and Lionel Richie could be making the trip to Dinosaur Island.

  • When: 29 July-1 August
  • Where: Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria
  • Who: TBC

One of the UK’s most picturesque festivals, Kendal Calling will celebrate its 15th anniversary this summer – but plans are still firmly under wraps.

Writing on the site’s Facebook page, organisers said they were “lucky that our on-site preparations don’t begin for some time, unlike some of our much bigger friends in the festival world”, meaning they could be more nimble in reacting to Covid-19 restrictions. A line-up is due to be announced in the coming months.

First Aid Kit
  • When: 22-25 July
  • Where: Henham Park, Suffolk
  • Who: Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, Snow Patrol, First Aid Kit (pictured)

Latitude hasn’t been given the definitive green light yet, unlike Reading & Leeds – which is also operated by Festival Republic. But organisers say planning for the boutique, pop-leaning event is “well under way”, with headliners booked and tickets on sale.

Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn says he is “super confident” events in the early summer will go ahead – and Latitude’s smaller scale makes it a good prospect.

Focusing on dance, hip-hop and R&B, London’s Lovebox festival was set to expand in 2020 with a new stage, and headline performances by Disclosure; Khalid; Robyn; and Tyler, The Creator.

The festival’s website still has a banner reading “see you in 2021” but there’s no more information on whether the event will come back this year.

  • When: 2-4 July
  • Where: Glynde Place, East Sussex
  • Who: TLC, The Isley Brothers, Sister Sledge

The team at the Love Supreme Jazz Festival say they are “continuing to plan” for the event, while “reviewing the latest guidance”. Ten acts have been announced for the line-up so far, with more due soon.

They’ve also confirmed that ticket holders will be eligible for a refund or transfer if the event is rescheduled, or if they test positive for Covid and are forced to isolate.

  • When: 3-5 September
  • Where: Victoria Park, Warrington
  • Who: James, Sam Fender, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott

Warrington’s Neighbourhood Weekender attracted some controversy when Ian Brown pulled out of a headline slot, claiming the event was demanding Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of entry.

The event neither confirmed nor denied the claim, simply saying they would “comply with the conditions outlined by the government” when the event takes place in September (having been moved from its original date in May).

Brown was swiftly replaced by Mancunian indie band James. Fans who cannot make the rescheduled dates can apply for a refund.

Notting Hill Carnival 2019

image copyrightPA Media

Last year, the Notting Hill Carnival was cancelled for the first time in its history. Organisers are hoping it can be resurrected for its 55th anniversary in 2021, but they are proceeding with caution for the time being.

“We will continue to plan for business as usual, and for every possible eventuality,” they said in a statement last month. “However, due to the uncertainty we are all facing as a nation, our board will not be making a decision until closer to the summer.”

  • When: 11-12 September
  • Where: Heaton Park, Manchester
  • Who: TBC

Another festival that’s shifted from June to September to minimise the chance of cancellation, Parklife says it is confident it’ll be able to host 80,000 fans at Heaton Park this autumn.

“We’re not considering operating with social distancing – I personally don’t like these socially distanced events,” organiser Sacha Lord told the NME. “I think to go to a proper gig or a proper rave you need to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a hot sweaty environment. You cannot create that atmosphere at a socially distanced event.”

The event’s line-up is due to be announced on 23 March.

  • When: 27- 29 August
  • Where: Little John’s Farm, Reading; Bramham Park, Leeds
  • Who: Stormzy, Post Malone, Liam Gallagher, Queens Of The Stone Age

“The acts are desperate to play, the kids are desperate to come,” Reading & Leeds organiser Melvin Benn told BBC News last month.

The dual-site festival is due to take place on August bank holiday, by which stage most adults will have had their first Covid-19 vaccination, and many will have had their second shot. Benn said that, on that front, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “got it right”.

“I applaud him for that, and I am going to hold his feet to the fire on it. And I think there’s going to be 200,000 young people holding his feet to the fire on that position as well.”

Keren and Sara

image copyrightGetty Images

  • When: Throughout August
  • Where: Scone Palace, Perth; Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield; Temple Island Meadows, Henley-On-Thames
  • Who: Jimmy Somerville, Wet Wet Wet, Billy Ocean, Soul II Soul, Bananarama (pictured)

After cancelling in 2020, Rewind said it had started “planning with confidence” for 2021 after the UK government revealed its four-step process for emerging from lockdown (the Perth leg of the festival will have to adhere to the Scottish government’s separate lockdown plans).

Organisers of the 80s throwback festival even joked they’d formed their own SAGE committee – comprised of Sad Aged Gits from the Eighties.

  • When: 27-29 August
  • Where: Solway Coast, Cumbria
  • Who: Maximo Park, Razorlight, Basement Jaxx, Echo & The Bunnymen

One of about 25 music festivals to receive funds from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fun, Solfest will return to the Cumbrian coastline over August bank holiday weekend “with no social distancing measures in place”.

“We are also fortunate enough to have an additional nine weeks after the official end of social distancing measures to survive any short lockdown extensions,” said organisers in a statement. If the worst comes to the worst, tickets will carry over to next year.

  • When: 24 July
  • Where: Wollaton Park, Nottingham
  • Who: Richard Ashcroft, Supergrass, Rick Astley

“It’s been a long time coming but we can promise you it’ll be worth the wait,” said Splendour, when on 6 March they announced their return.

Other acts playing the one-day, family-friendly festival include The Vamps, Belinda Carlisle and Becky Hill.

  • When: 22-25 July
  • Where: Standon, Hertfordshire
  • Who: Bastille, Hot Chip, Primal Scream

Celebrating its 16th year, the independent, family-friendly festival announced its line-up on 4 March. As it’s taking place relatively quickly after the lifting of lockdown restrictions, organisers reassured ticket holders they were taking adequate precautions.

“We remain ready to act flexibly and quickly to any changes to the proposed easing of lockdown over the next few months and to implement any necessary safety measures at the time of the event in July,” said a statement on their website.

  • When: 3-5 September
  • Where: Norfolk Showground, Norwich
  • Who: Loyle Carner, Sean Paul, Becky Hill, Fredo

Coming at the tail end of festival season, Norfolk’s “bass and pop” festival looks more hopeful than most – and has already sold out. “Here’s to a summer together,” organisers declared last month.

  • When: 23-25 July
  • Where: Hillsborough Park, Sheffield
  • Who: TBC

Taking place less than a mile from Sheffield’s city centre, Tramlines has transcended its roots as a free event to become one of the biggest festivals in the north east.

Organisers have been cautiously optimistic about the 2021 event, telling fans: “There may be bumps in the road ahead, but fear not, we’re doing absolutely everything we can to throw Sheffield that much needed party.” Tickets are on sale now, and a line-up is expected imminently.

Ian Brown

image copyrightPA Media

  • When: 9-11 July
  • Where: Glasgow Green, Glasgow
  • Who: Courteeners, Sam Fender, Blossoms, Ian Brown (pictured)

With a line-up announced and tickets on sale, Scotland’s TRNSMT festival says its “optimistic” this year’s event can go ahead. More information is expected this month.

In the meantime, festival boss Geoff Ellis has called on the Scottish government to provide a roadmap for reviving live events, saying some promoters are worried the country is aiming for a “zero Covid” scenario before lifting restrictions on large public gatherings.

Speaking to the Scotsman this week, he said calling off Scottish festivals while they go ahead in England would be like “trying to hold a giant wave back with a sieve”.

  • When: 23-25 July
  • Where: Hill Farm, Oxfordshire
  • Who: TBC

“The Godfather of the small festival scene,” Oxford’s Truck festival is expecting to go ahead, but has yet to announce its line-up.

“We’ll be working with the local authorities and following all the latest guidance, but rest assured if we aren’t able to go ahead, all ticket holders will be able to rollover to Truck Festival 2022 or given the opportunity to claim a refund,” said organisers in a statement.

  • When: 2-4 July
  • Where: Finsbury Park, London
  • Who: TBC

Wireless, which started out as a nuts-and-bolts indie rock festival in 2005 has, in recent years, transformed into the UK’s biggest showcase for hip-hop and grime. The line-up for 2020’s cancelled event included A$AP Rocky, Skepta, Da Baby, AJ Tracey and D-Block Europe.

Its heavy reliance on international acts may prove problematic so soon after the easing of coronavirus restrictions. At the time of writing, organisers had no information beyond their proposed dates for 2021.

  • When: 22-25 July
  • Where: Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire
  • Who: TBC

The world music festival announced this week that it had put tickets on sale. Organisers say that despite “inevitable changes” in line with government policy, they will “make it happen this year”.

“What is in no doubt is that Womad 2021 will be, as always, a glorious celebration of the global community, its music, arts, culture, and food,” they added.

The UK artists will be announced on 12 April, and organisers hope to announce their international line-up around 17 May.

In the meantime, the festival is streaming concerts with the likes of Erland Cooper and Jasdeep Singh on its website and Facebook page.

  • When: 30 July-1 August
  • Where: Pikehall, Derbyshire
  • Who: TBC

Organisers of the 15,000-capacity festival say they’re “hopeful” it will go ahead this summer, promising some “exciting news soon”, including this year’s line-up.

Noting that the advice on Covid-19 was “constantly changing”, they reassured fans that “even if we were told for definite that we cannot go ahead, all tickets are refund- and rollover-guaranteed.

All information was correct at the time of writing. Advice on public gatherings and Covid-related safety guidelines may change, and could affect the prospects of many events.

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