This summer, UK music festivals can still potentially go ahead in line with the planned easing of restrictions on 21 June. Many festivals have already announced that they will not be going ahead, due to concerns over the practicalities of running such events safely. Other festivals have announced their determination to continue, in hopes that the success of the vaccine programme will help to keep hospital admissions—and general transmission rates—at a sustainably low level.
While many organisers are remaining optimistic, there are ongoing uncertainties that threaten to affect those events yet to be cancelled. One of the biggest issues is insurance, as organisers fear that they will not be able to cover potential financial losses in the case of later cancellations. There are calls on the government to back insurance proposals or offer an alternative—the Association of Independent Festivals fears that, without government support, many more UK festivals may be at risk of cancellation.
Regardless, many festivals are still showing determination to go ahead.
Boardmasters organisers hope that their seaside showcase can take place as planned, and have announced Foals, Gorillaz, and Jorja Smith as headliners. It will take place on 11-15 August.
Fatboy Slim and Groove Armada are billed to play at Dorset’s beloved family event, which has been eager to return since the government formalised its roadmap out of lockdown. It is scheduled to take place from 29 July-1 August.
On 26-29 August, the Cheshire festival hopes to offer its usual weekend of electronic dance music to a sold out audience. Amongst the typically loaded line-up are Martin Garrix, deadmau5, and Eric Prydz.
End Of The Road
In early September, End Of The Road is welcoming back a large portion of the line-up from its cancelled 2020 show. Attendees will be treated to sets from the likes of Hot Chip, King Krule, and Little Simz.
Green Man Festival
The Brecon Beacons-based festival recently sold out its remaining share of tickets, as it stays hopeful that it will return on 19-22 August. It is yet to release its line-up and organisers await a decision from the Welsh government as to whether such events will be allowed.
Reading & Leeds Festival
This August favourite is all set to go ahead from 27-29 August, with Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, and Queen of the Stone Age all headlining. With its later date, the organisers have every hope that both the Berkshire and West Yorkshire sites will be able to host the famous festival.
The indie festival has sold out its allocation, and plans to take place on 23-25 July. A beloved presence in the small festival scene, its 2021 weekend will be headlined by Bombay Bicycle Club, The Kooks, and Royal Blood.
Y Not Festival
Another small indie favourite, Y Not Festival, is scheduled to take place on 30 July-1 August. With headline sets from Stereophonics, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Blossoms, the organisers hope to deliver on one of their biggest line-ups.
Postponed and Rescheduled
All Points East
The popular London festival will return to Victoria Park on 27-30 August. It has been moved much later than its usual May scheduling in an attempt to secure the safe and successful delivery of the 3-day event. Jamie xx, London Grammar, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Foals all headline across the weekend.
Parklife shifted its June slot to a September outing, hoping to get ahead of the restrictions and avoid the disappointment of cancellation. Dave, Four Tet, and Megan Thee Stallion are all set to play at the Manchester festival. With its later date of 11-12 September, organisers are confident of Parklife’s chances.
Likewise, Wireless has been moved to 10-12 September, and as a result has moved from Finsbury Park to Crystal Palace Park. It will be headlined by Skepta, Migos, and Future, as it yet again promises to become a celebration of hip-hop and grime.
Many more festivals plan to go ahead this summer in some capacity, including but not limited to: Victorious Festival, TRNSMT Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Womad, Tramlines and Latitude.
Not Going Ahead
Originally planned for 11-15 August, Boomtown organisers officially cancelled the event in April. They cited lack of insurance as the main drive behind their regretful cancellation—they also hoped that the government would provide support for festivals looking to be covered by insurance this summer. Boomtown will return in August 2022.
Michael and Emily Eavis set the pace with an early decision to call off this beloved event. In January, they conceded that a festival of Glastonbury’s size would struggle to function safely in the midst of the pandemic. They are both looking forward to 2022, but are also hosting a live-stream event from Worthy Farm in May. Coldplay, Kano, and Wolf Alice are among the acts that are scheduled to play.
All organisers will be awaiting further announcements from the government to confirm the safe procedure of their events. If the vaccination programme continues in this manner, the summer may well usher in a euphoric return for live music in the UK.
Words by Ben Faulkner