It’s safe to say that the proposed go-ahead of many festivals for the 2021 season is a source of excitement for many. However, is this merely another hope to be dashed with the coming of the summer months?


It has been clear that many festival-goers have been waiting for this moment for over a year now. With the cancellation of almost all in 2020, the announcements of the release of tickets from many of the UK’s top festivals (including Wireless, due to be held in London’s Crystal Palace Park) brought joy to many. 


Despite this excitement, it is proving to be the case that the promise of a covid-free festival season is highly unlikely, and, even if this proves to be the case, will the logistics of planning a festival during a pandemic even be possible?


The first problem lies in timing. The government will not announce the lifting of the social contact ban until June 14 at the earliest, with this (hopefully) coming into fruition from June 21. For many festivals like BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, which is usually held in May, this has meant they have had to cancel. Even if the dates are theoretically possible, festival prep begins much earlier than the weeks before. It takes months to set up stages and venues, and so without knowledge of whether the festivals will be allowed to go ahead, it would be financially impossible to set up a whole event without knowing whether it will become a reality. There is no real insurance policy either, and so companies would lose out on a significant amount of money if they set up and were then unable to run, meaning the risks of deciding to go ahead with setting up are significant. 


Furthering the financial concerns, the people relying on income from staffing the festivals are facing confusion as to the summer and their job prospects. Most often festival staff do not get paid until after the event, meaning the speculation as to whether they will go ahead is leaving their financial situations in the balance. They are unable to commit to other work, yet are unsure as to whether their potential summer employment will go ahead.


Additionally, despite how tickets are selling out, there are still questions as to what the events will look like. If COVID is still a huge concern, will some sort of COVID certification come into play? If mass testing is employed, will it be enough to combat the spread? Will some form of social distancing have to be implemented? These questions are plaguing the minds of both those working and hoping to attend the festivals, and so turn out may be lower than desired, but it has not yet seemed to have a large scale impact on the purchase of tickets. 


It is clear that whilst there are plenty of barriers to overcome, those who are running festivals are determined for them to go ahead. Attendees are excited, and for now, we can remain optimistic about the potential of a festival season for 2021.