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Glastonbury 2021 is off

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Glastonbury 2021 has officially been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organisers Michael and Emily Eavis said: “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. In spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year. We are so sorry to let you all down.”

On the other hand, they also said “We are very confident we can deliver something really special for us all in 2022!”

Line-up hopefuls for 2021 included Paul McCartney, Jessie Ware, Fatboy Slim, Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, The Specials and Basil Brush. The last Glastonbury festival in 2019 also saw the creation of the giant IICON stage – depicting a giant concrete head – on which Larry Heard, Batu, Manthe Ribane, Laurel Halo and Kode9 performed.

The decision to cancel appears to have been made quickly, after Emily Eavis initially denied claims by Spice Girl Mel B that it had already been cancelled on January 4th.

Paul Reed, chair of the Association of Independent Festivals, praised the cancellation, despite widespread disappointment among those who had already bought tickets. “You have to consider its global and cultural significance – it’s the largest green-field festival in the world, and it could set the tone in terms of public confidence for festivals going ahead this year.”

The speed of the decision scaled with the extra cost it would have taken to host Glastonbury. Reed said it costs “anything between £500,000 to plan a 5,000-capacity festival to £12m for a 70,000-capacity festival, which is why we’ve been asking the government to intervene on government-backed insurance and give us some sense of a timeframe on reopening.”

Glastonbury’s normal capacity, by comparison, is usually around 200,000 people. “Though some of the larger events will be making decisions this month as to whether they go ahead, for many of the smaller ones the cut-off will be later.”
Glastonbury was also cancelled for the same reasons in 2020, enforcing an extra ‘fallow year’. It would have been its 50th anniversary. Last year, the Eavises told the Guardian that the event could go bankrupt if forced to cancel again. They also urged the UK government to support the creative industries.

“We have to run next year, otherwise we would seriously go bankrupt”, he goes on. “It has to happen for us, we have to carry on. Otherwise it will be curtains. I don’t think we could wait another year. Otherwise, I think we face the very real possibility of so many aspects of our culture disappearing forever”.