Which festivals will go ahead in 2021?

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The end to lockdown is in sight, but how normal a summer can we all look forward to?

If your normality is drinking warm cider in a muddy field and singing your heart out with thousands of others, it's suddenly looking a bit more positive.

Reading and Leeds Festival organisers have now said they're "very confident" the events will go ahead this August.

That and the government's plan to scrap limits on social contact in England by 21 June, if Covid is under control, is giving those working in the industry cautious hope.

But there's plenty to consider when it comes to the risks and the jobs of those who rely on festivals.

Scroll to the bottom for a list of what major UK festivals are saying.

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image captionCrowdsurfing seems a world away right now

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) says the "2021 festival season is by no means guaranteed at this point" and that "major festivals such as Reading and Leeds are not a barometer for the whole market."

They add: "There is still the chance of widespread cancellations if data around covid cases does not meet the Government's requirements and lockdown easing is delayed.

"It is still an enormous risk for any independent festival to commit costs and proceed up to June 14 without insurance.

"We therefore once again call on the Government to urgently intervene with a Government-backed insurance scheme and extend the VAT reduction to 5% beyond the end of March."

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"There are still lots of things the government need to do to make sure events can go ahead and hopefully they're gonna provide some backing for the insurance industry," James Scarlett who organises 2000 Trees in Gloucestershire tells BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, "but we're feeling good and we're gonna go ahead if it's possible."

"One week, 100 people, we're good to go," adds James as they're a smaller festival, but it's not that easy for everyone.

By now, Anna Wade would have probably already announced the headliners for Boomtown.

The festival near Winchester's still scheduled for early August - but nothing's definite.

"If we can't go ahead this year, it would be absolutely devastating," says Anna.

In a statement on their website it says: "The path to us 100% going ahead is still filled with some uncertainty, but we too have taken a whole heap of hope and optimism from the [government] announcement."

image copyrightBoomtown
image captionBoomtown 2021 is due to happen in the middle of August

It takes an army of people to pull off a big festival and Anna fears for all those involved, not just the organisers.

"A huge amount of highly skilled people would rely on festivals being a large part of their summer income."

People like Luke Hopkins, a set builder and carpenter who worked on Lions Den at Boomtown: "I don't feel it's solidified yet but the potential for things to open is very exciting indeed. I've spent the last year doing other pieces of work - stuff I'm not passionate about."

image copyrightLuke Hopkins
image captionLuke says he can't wait to be building festival sets again

"The majority of people who work in the production industry, especially festivals, we depend so much on our festival season to fund our lives. The news I couldn't go on was devastating - we've all had to find other jobs, a lot of us have been struggling."

"It's amazing Reading and Leeds are saying they're going ahead," adds Tom Campbell, who's a production manager and has worked with Yungblud and Thirty Seconds to Mars.

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image captionProduction manager Tom's worked with Yungblud in the past

"We're noticing other festivals pushing into September and autumn touring plans are starting to come into the emails, but covid isn't over yet."

Tom can't wait to be back doing the job he loves: "I miss the part where I drop the crowd lights out and 40, 50, 60 000 people lose their minds because they get to see their heroes."

image copyrightTom Campbell
image captionTom loves the adrenalin of dropping the crowd lights at gigs

Parklife and Creamfields have now also both announced they're planning to go ahead.

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But what about social distancing - the thing we've been doing for so long now - is it even possible at a festival?

"People singing and small spaces are perfect ways for the virus to spread," explains virologist Dr Naomi Forrester-Soto.

"The virus is transmitted as you breathe or as you talk or as you sing. The louder you are, the more air you expel from your lungs - and if you're infected, the more virus you expel from your lungs."

In other words, singing makes you more infectious.

Dr Forrester-Soto says it's wrong to think festivals will be safe just because they're outside.

"If you're all huddled together and singing loudly, there are still big risks."

She also says we shouldn't think everything will get back to normal now people are getting vaccinated.

"We still don't know how long the vaccine protects you for - or whether it stops you from passing it on to others. Until we do, all the social distancing rules have to remain," she says.

At a festival, it's simply not realistic to expect those rules to be followed all the time. And although there are ideas such as everyone having a test before they attend, making that happen is a huge logistical challenge.

That said, Tom Grennan, who's set to play at Reading and Leeds is hopeful: "If these lateral tests and quick tests get put on with tickets, I think people will have to queue up a bit longer, but I think if that means an unsocial distanced party then I think everybody's up for it."

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image captionThe festival season is still "by no means guaranteed" says the Association of Independent Festivals

Festivals - what we know right now

We'll keep updating this page when we hear anything.


Radio 1 Big Weekend - No news at this stage.


Download - Cancelled.

Glastonbury - Cancelled.


TRNSMT - Still optimistic of going ahead, more news expected early March.


Boomtown - No decision.

Creamfields - Going ahead.

Green Man - Organisers 'hopeful' it will go ahead.

Reading and Leeds - Going ahead.

Notting Hill Carnival- Preparing for every eventuality but no decision yet.


Parklife - Going ahead.

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