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Isle of Wight festival moves to September as Download and Primavera cancel

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
·2-min read

Plans for the summer’s music season remain in flux, with Isle of Wight festival moving to a new September date, while metal festival Download and Barcelona’s Primavera Sound have cancelled their June 2021 events.

The Isle of Wight festival has been shifted to 16-19 September, with organisers stating: “We’re aiming to bring back as many of the artists as we can.” The festival was originally scheduled for 17-20 June and was due to be headlined by Lewis Capaldi, Lionel Richie, Duran Duran and more.

The cosmopolitan Primavera Sound, one of Europe’s most high-profile events, was set to host acts including Tame Impala, Bad Bunny and Tyler, the Creator, but the festival has been cancelled in what organisers called a “painful decision”.

Yesterday, Download festival – the UK’s biggest rock event, with 80,000 attendees – also cancelled, for the second year running. Organisers said they were heartbroken, and told ticket-holders they could carry their tickets over to the 2022 event.

Watch: Glasgow Festival to be held virtually

With the government setting a 12 June date for large-scale events to run as normal, festivals scheduled for later in the summer are more optimistic about their chances. Last week, Reading & Leeds festival boss Melvin Benn told the Guardian: “We’re enthusiastic, we’re excited, and we’re certain that it’s going to go ahead.” The festival is scheduled for the August bank holiday weekend.

Consumer confidence is also high, with Reading now sold out, and only limited one-day tickets remaining for Leeds; Ticketmaster reported a 600% surge in traffic to its website last week following the government’s announcement on restrictions being lifted in England.

On Friday, however, Reading councillor Graeme Hoskin told a meeting of the town’s Covid-19 Outbreak Engagement Board that the festival “is going to be a major item for our licensing department and various other national bodies to consider, but nothing has been agreed by the council”.

Commercial insurers are not providing insurance in the case of an event cancelling due to the pandemic, so festivals are hoping for an announcement of government-backed insurance, possibly in tomorrow’s budget, which would allow them to continue to commit to spending for this summer’s events.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has once again called for the government insurance scheme to be implemented, along with reduced VAT rates. “There is still the chance of widespread cancellations if data around Covid cases does not meet the government’s requirements and lockdown easing is delayed,” the AIF told the BBC this week. “It is still an enormous risk for any independent festival to commit costs and proceed.”

Watch: Coachella gets cancelled, again