A 10,000 capacity COVID pilot festival will take place in the UK next month as part of the government’s Events Research Programme.
Last week, it was reported that Melvin Benn, MD of Festival Republic — the giant behind major gatherings including Leeds and Reading, Latitude and Electric Daisy Carnival in the UK — had announced plans to host a camping festival trial, and organisers have now confirmed the plan will go ahead at Donington Park from 18th to 20th June 2021, and “moshing is allowed”.
Passes go on sale Tuesday 1st June for Download ticketholders, with the celebrated rock and metal festival hosting the event. General sale then begins on 3rd June, and Friday 28th May will see the lineup announced.
We’re hyped to announce #DownloadPilot. A camping festival pilot in Donington Park, that’s part of the government’s Event Research Programme.
— Download Festival (@DownloadFest) May 26, 2021
“Following the huge success of our Sefton Park event, we are delighted to contribute to Phase II of the Government’s Events Research Programme with the creation of the first three-day camping festival,” said Melvin Benn of Festival Republic, which runs Download.
“This massive next step will help us understand and study the safe return of large-scale festivals with no social distancing or face masks over a full weekend,” he added. “[It’s] the return of the full festival experience we have all been waiting for and a much needed return to work for musicians, backstage crew, caterers and many more that form part of the UK’s exemplary live music industry.”
So far, the UK Government’s Events Research Programme has seen a total of 58,000 people attend events ranging from the BRIT Awards and two large club events in Liverpool. As of 21st May 2021, just 15 COVID-19 cases had been detected from the trials.
However, it is worth noting not all attendees returned a PCR test five days after the event as requested, and many scientists are still warning the planned final stage of lockdown easing on 21st June may not go agead due to rising infections driven by the B.1.617.2 variant. And, even if the timeline goes as planned, music and nightlife industry representatives have voiced major concerns over a lack of government-backed event insurance for this summer, leaving many festivals vulnerable to unexpected local or national lockdowns, should they be reinforced.