That’s it folks, the Coronavirus pandemic has officially killed the summer! While our thoughts are with those who are ill, the families of those who have already been lost to COVID-19 and the millions impacted by the global economic disruption of the outbreak, fingers were firmly crossed that the world and it’s music event calendar would be back on track as soon as possible and certainly by June’s Glastonbury Festival. But events such as Glastonbury take months and even years to prepare for, with site-preparation requiring thousands of people from all over coming together at Worthy Farm to get it ready for 200,000 people to descend by the tail-end of June.
But today, mere days after the extended list of acts to play this summer’s 50th anniversary edition were announced, Michael and Emily Eavis have officially communicated that this summer’s event has been cancelled.
They write: “We very much hope that the situation in the UK will have improved enormously by the end of June. But even if it has, we are no longer able to spend the next three months with thousands of crew here on the farm, helping us with the enormous job of building the infrastructure and attractions needed to welcome more than 200,000 people to a temporary city in these fields.”
The list of acts announced included headliners Paul McCartney, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift and Diana Ross. The host of newly announced acts included Blossoms, Dua Lipa, Crowded House, Kacey Musgraves, Haim, Pet Shop Boys, Manic Street Preachers, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Editors, London Grammar and Thom Yorke amongst others – boasting a gender-balanced line-up for the first time, the first major music festival to do so.
The festival has announced that the 135,000 who were successful in securing tickets by paying a £50 deposit during the coach and general ticket sales earlier this year will have the option to either receive a refund or leave their deposit to secure a ticket for the 2021 edition of the festival – an option I’m sure many will gladly take.
“The cancellation of this year’s Festival will no doubt come as a terrible blow to our incredible crew and volunteers who work so hard to make this event happen. There will also inevitably be severe financial implications as a result of this cancellation – not just for us, but also the Festival’s charity partners, suppliers, traders, local landowners and our community” the statement continues.
This news comes after festivals in North America such as SXSW and Coachella along with Europe’s Eurovision Song Contest have been either cancelled or “postponed” and gig venues announce closures at least until the end of March. With global travel restrictions already affecting artists’ travel and others self-isolating, it’s a bleak time for the music industry as a whole including those businesses that rely upon music events to sustain themselves.
When the peak of COVID-19 passes and restrictions begin to lift, we will have to see where things lie in terms of venues and their suppliers still able to function as well as artists’ touring schedules given some are now delaying scheduled album releases until a touring campaign can be re-planned with some certainty.
In the meantime, the BBC has announced plans to broadcast “a celebration of Glastonbury” now that the festival’s cancellation is official. Controller of Pop Music at The Beeb Lorna Clarke says: “We, along with the Eavis family, are saddened that understandably, the Glastonbury Festival can’t take place. We are already looking forward to next year’s festival at Worthy Farm and will now look at providing our audiences with a celebration of Glastonbury in June”.
And as venues close their doors, a host of artists have been announcing live streams of gigs or “self-isolation” shows, with the likes of Yungblud, U2’s Bono, Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard and Coldplay’s Chris Martin streaming to people’s homes for self-isolators to remain close to live music, even in these strange and uncertain times.
Check out the latest line-up poster for this year’s scrapped festival: