For about 8 1/2 years, starting with a prompt from Jonathan, I’ve been Anglotopia’s official conduit for news on the Glastonbury Festival. And while it can be frustrating as all Hell to collate all the news on the festival from the NME and condense them all into a fairly digestible post, it’s always interesting to learn more about the festival. Whether it’s the Great or the Kanye West Deciding To Make His Sampling of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” (the aural equivalent of Goya’s Black Paintings) For A Self-Aggrandizing Rant Disguised As A Rap Song Only Be His Second Worst Mangling Of The British Classic Rock Canon:
But, of course, the pandemic’s still on, and, as I write this, not only is the UK (not merely England, but Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland now) still under lockdown, there’s still very little end in sight, with Reuters reporting that the UK has recently given local councils the power to potentially extend lockdowns until July 17. And, given that both festivals and the virus thrive under the same circumstances (with lots of close contact and clustering of people), this has raised a lot of questions about whether many festivals can go on under these circumstances, even with a vaccine already being rolled out and counterbalanced by a newer, more virulent, strain of the virus.
While, earlier in the month, Emily Eavis had to assure the fans that it hadn’t been canceled after Mel B of the Spice Girls sounded the alarm a bit too early, on January 21, they decided the show couldn’t go on:
With great regret, we must announce that this year’s Glastonbury Festival will not take place, and that this will be another enforced fallow year for us. Tickets for this year will roll over to next year. Full statement below and on our website. Michael & Emily pic.twitter.com/SlNdwA2tHd
— Glastonbury Festival (@glastonbury) January 21, 2021
So, the statement should be visible from here, so I won’t repeat it. This is the second year in a row that COVID has forced the Glastonbury Festival’s cancellation, although, of course, tickets will still roll over into the next year, in hopes that the situation will finally improves by that time.
To quote Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton, on how many people would have to be vaccinated before festivals can safely resume:
“We’d want a bare minimum of 50% of the population to be vaccinated, but probably more like 60%. That would probably take us towards the end of the summer at around August or September. If you were planning something very large like Glastonbury, I’d probably be waiting until next year for sure.”
And this sounds like an interesting new segue to an interview Michael Eavis gave with LBC, in which he teased another possibility: a smaller festival in September.
Quoth Michael Eavis: “I would like to do something in September. I would like to do something smaller somewhere around the anniversary date of when we started, which was the 18th of September 1970. I would like to consider possibly doing something around that time.” When asked if this would have involved some of the artists who would have played in this year’s festival (for instance, headliners Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, and Kendrick Lamar), he replied: “Yes, but I do need to get reassurance from the ethics people.”
He also explained what exactly convinced him to cancel this year’s festival, saying: “I’d been talking to the big-wigs at Imperial College day-by-day, and last night was the last straw when they said ‘no, this is really not going to happen’… Six different people that were working on a trial at the farm only realised yesterday that they couldn’t get it through the ethics committee.” Even plans of a smaller festival with only 50,000 revelers and not 200,000 didn’t change things.
That said, he remains “very confident” about the festival’s future with the support fans have shown even with two consecutive cancellations.