It’s a festival tradition and an iconic sight – the Pyramid stage crowd at Worthy Farm all lit up in red. But should flares be allowed at Glastonbury and other major British festivals? That’s the debate this week after reports of people throwing flares at other festival-goers at Libertines comeback show in London on Saturday. Among the hundreds of emails we received from readers caught in crowd crushes at the group’s Hyde Park return were disturbing reports of fans being bruised, singed and even momentarily blinded when struck by flares “lobbed” indiscriminately. They’ve been a part of festival culture in the UK for years and yes, they add to the atmosphere and look awesome in photos, but do event organisers need to be policing their use with greater force?
Maybe the question is: can use of flares be policed? A quick glance at big UK festivals’ website terms and condition pages reveals flares are already technically banned. Reading and Leeds lists them alongside gas canisters, air horns and fireworks as not permitted onsite. Glastonbury’s ‘what not to bring’ page tells you to leave flares at home. Bestival, meanwhile, warns that any flares spotted lit onsite will be “extinguished by the Isle of Wight fire service” in line with its no flames policy. And yet flares are always visible at festivals, suggesting that the ban is maybe too much of a practical nightmare to actually enforce.
A spokesperson for T In The Park, which takes place in Scotland this weekend, issued this statement to NME this morning following the Libertines reports:
“Flares are extremely dangerous and won’t be tolerated at T in the Park. Do not bring them, do not use them or you will be arrested. Every music fan entering the festival is subject to a bag search and anyone attempting to bring flares into the campsite or the arena will have them confiscated and refused entry.”
What’s your take on the situation? Should festival organisers do more to ban flares? Should they simply target the idiots misusing them? Or were Saturday’s events an anomaly that should just be ignored? Have your say in our poll below.