LONDON — Britain’s Glastonbury pageant, one of many world’s most distinguished pop music occasions, was canceled on Thursday for a second year in a row due to the coronavirus — sparking concern that giant music festivals in Europe won’t go forward this summer season.
“In spite of our efforts to move Heaven & Earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the Festival happen,” Michael and Emily Eavis, the pageant’s organizers, stated in a joint statement on Thursday. “We are so sorry to let you all down.”
Glastonbury is Britain’s largest pop occasion, held every June on the Eavis’s farm in Pilton, southwest England. About 210,000 individuals had been meant to attend this yr, tenting on the web site for a number of days (the farm’s cows are moved off web site for the occasion).
The announcement got here as coronavirus deaths had been hovering in England, which is in its third nationwide lockdown. Some 1,820 daily deaths had been introduced on Wednesday. On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters it was “too early” to say when lockdown restrictions can be eased in England.
For weeks, Glastonbury’s organizers had been warning that the pageant was susceptible to cancellation due to uncertainties across the pandemic, with insurers unwilling to offer cowl. In December, Emily Eavis did a string of interviews with British information organizations during which she requested the federal government to create its personal insurance coverage scheme to cowl prices if a final minute cancellation turned crucial.
“What we definitely can’t afford to risk is getting too far into the process of next year, only for it to be snatched away from us,” she told the BBC.
Oliver Dowden, Britain’s tradition minister, stated in a tweet on Thursday that Glastonbury’s determination was comprehensible as bringing followers collectively “in just a few months looks very difficult to make safe.” The authorities was “looking at problems around getting insurance,” he added.
This month, Austria launched an insurance coverage scheme to cowl occasions that can not be rescheduled, together with music festivals. Germany’s finance ministry recently said it has plans to start out protecting cultural occasions, however Britain only has a similar scheme for film and TV shoots regardless of strain from politicians and musicians.
The determination to cancel Glastonbury once more has triggered concern throughout Europe, the place music festivals have an nearly legendary standing. British politicians typically prefer to be seen at Glastonbury, an indication of its significance within the cultural calendar.
“It’s sent a very bad signal,” Olivier Garnier, a spokesman for Hellfest, one among France’s largest occasions, stated in a phone interview. Hellfest hosts about 60,000 heavy metallic followers every year and its 2021 iteration, scheduled for June, is already bought out.
On Monday, Hellfest sent a three-page letter to Roselyne Bachelot, France’s tradition minister, asking for certainty on whether or not the occasion can happen, and suggesting that the pageant might take a look at attendees for the virus upon arrival.
On Tuesday, Bachelot dismissed the concept that testing can be sufficient to permit festivals to happen. “It’s fanciful!’,” she told a French parliamentary committee, including that festivals had been an apparent potential web site of transmission with individuals singing, ingesting and dancing collectively.
The image just isn’t totally downbeat throughout the continent. In Denmark, festivals are making ready to go forward, stated Esben Marcher of Dansk Live, a physique that represents pageant organizers, in a phone interview.
“Of course Glastonbury’s news is a big signal to the rest of Europe,” he stated, “but my sense is that building its site is a much larger and longer process than for others.” Glastonbury takes months to arrange its fields to stage the occasion, Marcher stated. Danish occasions might be arrange in just a few weeks.
In December, Roskilde, Denmark’s largest pageant scheduled for June, announced rapper Kendrick Lamar as a headliner. Signe Lopdrup, Roskilde’s chief government, stated in an e-mail that she was “cautiously optimistic” about it going forward.
Marcher stated he’d had “good discussions” with Denmark’s tradition ministry about “how festivals can proceed” and hoped for an insurance coverage scheme much like these in different nations.
Festival organizers are additionally pushing for the creation of a digital passport that will enable individuals to attend occasions if they’ve been vaccinated, have Covid-19 antibodies or have examined detrimental for the virus inside 72 hours of an occasion, he added. But Marcher stated politicians had been reluctant to debate that proposal at a time when Denmark is experiencing a surge in coronavirus instances. “No one wants to talk about how to open up society, when we’re still closing it down,” he added.
Several different main European festivals, together with Primavera Sound, held in Barcelona, stated in emails they didn’t need to touch upon Glastonbury’s transfer.
On Thursday, the organizers of Belgium’s Dour festival, scheduled to be headlined in July by ASAP Rocky, stated in an e-mail they had been shocked by Glastonbury, however “stay confident” about their pageant.
Even if some European festivals do go forward this yr, and get authorities help, it’s too late for Glastonbury. The pageant should take “an enforced fallow year,” the Eavis’s stated of their assertion. The primary sounds on their farm this June should come from the cows.
Constant Méheut contributed reporting.