Over half of UK summer festivals have been cancelled for 2021, according to a new study. 

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) suggests 51% of events with capacities of 5000 and over have now pulled their dates for the coming months. A further 22% of respondents said they were “unsure” as to whether they can proceed. 

“This is a milestone that nobody wanted to reach but, unfortunately, it has seemed inevitable for some time now thanks to the Government’s inaction and refusal to give organisers any kind of safety net that would allow them to continue to invest in their businesses and the supply chain with confidence,” said AIF CEO Paul Reed. 

“Make no mistake – these cancellations were entirely avoidable, and Government must now change its position of reviewing insurance at step four, as it will be far too late for most UK festivals. At this point, every day counts. If Government has any confidence in July 19 as a terminus date, they will back this now,” he added.  

The news comes as the UK Government unveiled the results of the Events Research Programme Phase One. The second phase, which included 10,000 capacity camping festival Download, has yet to be made public. The original plan to lift all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England by 21st June was delayed due to the rise in cases resulting from the highly transmissible Delta strain. A new date of 19th July was announced earlier this month, at which point the UK festival sector called for urgent financial support from the government. The request has so far gone unanswered. 

“There are still a number of festivals that could take place after the intended final lifting of lockdown on July 19 but, as we have seen with the likes of Kendal Calling and Truck Festival cancelling this week, that number is rapidly declining,” said Reed. “This is an existential issue; the 2021 season is collapsing without decisive Government action and there is a real risk of these festivals not returning.”