This is an absolutely devastating year for festivals. It was when the cancellation for SXSW and postponement of Coachella came through that I really started to stand up and take notice of this virus, and began to realise the full impact it was having on the world.
That was over a week ago now, and wow, what a week it’s been.
I’ve not spoken to my friends so much since school times. That part of it has been great – the video calls and Whatsapp messages to share stories and support.
But that’s the only good thing.
This is all so, so shit. But it looks like it’s our lives for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE 15th MAY 2020: Festivals are being cancelled left, right and centre for the summer. I wouldn’t sign up to any until earliest October – Iceland Airwaves in November anyone?
Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given us this magic figure of ’12 weeks’, but I’m not sure where he’s got that from, or whether to believe it, or even, what’s actually meant to happen in 12 weeks.
Even at 12 weeks it’s a blummin long time.
I’ve chosen to pretty much self isolate, only going out for food and walks on the coast. I don’t really need to be out there, so I might as well stay in and stop the spread. Would be a good time to get some work done, if I could concentrate for more than five minutes.
State of the festivals in 2020
Twelve weeks at this crucial stage of the festival year is devastating for the industry. I had this idea at the end of 2019 that I was going to go to 20 festivals in 2020. Well, that’s not gonna happen.
I’ve been to one so far: the Portsmouth Games Festival at the start of February.
Last weekend I was meant to be going to RestFest at Arundel Castle. I’d been looking forward to the wellness festival for months, it seemed to come at the perfect time for me. I wanted to learn how to ‘flourish’ and join the yoga sessions and to work on my positive attitude too. I met the founder, Naomi, at a business group I’m part of in Southsea. She was so excited and spent her year putting it all together with a small team.
I was devastated for her when, the day before, she just had to call it off.
“The health and wellness of our guests and team are of paramount importance to us but moreover it’s the decision we have made with absolute love and integrity for the RESTFEST community.” – Naomi, RestFest
Just like most of the festivals in March, April, May and June around the world.
Fancy doing a festival quiz?
50 questions, 50 answers – do it with friends, or by yourself!
The big festival responses
Despite Glasto announcing its line up, six days later it had to cancel. There was just no way they could set the festival up with the current pandemic. I didn’t have a ticket for this year, but I felt so bad for them, and the people who did.
Honestly, getting a Glasto ticket is a mission.
We had about 15 of us on the case back in October – spreadsheets and all – and no one succeeded. This was its big 50th anniversary year, and they’d been working on putting the festival together for months already.
As for the USA, I’ve already mentioned Coachella, SXSW and now the New Orleans Jazz Festival has been cancelled too. Also, E3, a huge gaming festival in JUNE. Cancelling an indoors festival in June seemed ludicrous when they announced it, but now, with a week’s more living done, and more deaths and cases, I get it.
Our early summer festivals are definitely off the cards.
Why can’t they go ahead?
The problem isn’t just the festival, it’s the setting up. I presume they don’t want to spend another penny on something that might not happen. As we’ve learned over the last few weeks, a lot of businesses and companies are running on relatively small margins, and this pandemic has come along and is set to ruin them.
Festival organisers don’t want to invest any more hard cash unless they’re a sure bet.
I wanted to put a list together of the festivals that are still hoping to go ahead this year, although of course, check their websites for updates. Who knows what state the festival world (and the actual world) will be in a few weeks time?
Festivals cancelled for 2020
This just covers the festivals I’ve been to, or have a special interest in. There are SO many festivals around the world, I couldn’t possibly keep up!
Las Fallas, Spain – postponed
SXSW, USA – cancelled
Coachella, USA – postponed till October
New Orleans Jazz Festival, USA – postponed
Hogs for the Cause Festival, USA – cancelled
French Quarter Festival, USA – postponed till October
Seville Feria, Spain – postponed till September
Cannes Film Festival, France – postponed
VIVID Sydney, Australia – cancelled
Hay Literature Festival, England – cancelled
Eurovision Song Contest – cancelled
Glastonbury, England – cancelled
The Teenage Cancer Trust Festival has also cancelled, and the O2 has shut down temporarily.
The only British festivals still planning on going ahead in March to June are the Isle of Wight Festival and Parklife Festival in Manchester. To be honest though, I really don’t see how they can. I’d expect an announcement on these very soon, and I definitely wouldn’t buy tickets if I were you.
UPDATE 27/03 –
Download, Isle of Wight Festival and All Points East have all been cancelled too.
NEXT BRITISH FESTIVAL STILL RUNNING is LATITUDE FESTIVAL
Festivals still happening in 2020
Primavera, Spain – This Barcelona festival is still scheduled for the 3rd to the 7th June. Again, can’t see it happening.
My brother and sister-in-law live in Barcelona and right now, they’re not even allowed out of their flat, unless it’s to get groceries or walk one of the doggies. I wouldn’t buy tickets or transport for this festival either.
Gawd I hope we’re all back on for July, it seems an age away. You can see on the EXIT Festival website, that this Serbian festival has firmly said it’s going ahead. I really hope it does and that we’re back to some sense of normality by then.
If you’re planning on going to a festival in 2020, then these are the ones I’d plan for… (still wouldn’t buy a ticket until nearer the time though).
Latitude, England – British Summer Time Festival, England – Lovebox Festival, England – Henley Festival, England – Field Day, England – Bilbao BBK, Spain – Dour Festival, Belgium – Dawson City Music Festival, Canada – Knysna Oyster Festival, South Africa – Warriorfest, England – Atlas Festival, England
UPDATE 30 APRIL – BoomTown and Sziget are CANCELLED TOO
I think it’s fair to say there aren’t going to be ANY summer festivals in 2020. I’m getting email after email about cancelled festivals, and I just can’t picture anyone wanting to stand so close in a field, in relatively unsanitary conditions.
Sziget Festival, Hungary – Victorious, England – Wilderness, England – Edinburgh Fringe, Scotland – Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Scotland – The Gin Festival, England – Neverworld, England – MS Dockville, Germany – A Summer’s Tale Festival, Germany – Tomatina, Spain – Rock en Seine, France – Reading Festival, England – Leeds Festival, England – Notting Hill Carnival, England – 90s Festival, England – Burning Man, USA
I don’t want to write ‘cancelled’ 20 times, but they pretty much all are.
Although, Victorious Festival on August Bank Holiday Weekend is still hoping to go ahead.
Oktoberfest, Germany – cancelled
Lake of Stars Festival, Malawi – postponed
Voorkamer Festival, South Africa
Latest cultural cancellations
I’ll try to update this post as much as possible but you can check up to date film, music, classical, stage, books, art & design and games cancellations on the Guardian’s list of major cancellations. I can’t possibly keep up with all the festival cancellations for 2020, but this post was just to highlight the problems within the festival industry.
With no new films, no new music, no emerging artists given a platform at festivals, and no new stories being published, this is a very strange time in the history books.
Imagine when it’s over though.
Our favourite artists have been holed up making new music, our festival creators alone with their new ideas to make their festivals even better, new film ideas, new books, new stories and a chance for all the creatives to sit back and reassess.
The world of culture will come back stronger, but when, I have no idea.
Let’s hope this leaves our lives as quickly as it arrived.
When this is over the whole world will enjoy a serious FIESTA!