The team behind the UK’s first music festival this summer have explained how they narrowly escaped an extension to lockdown restrictions in order to go ahead this weekend.
The UK festival scene faced an unwelcome setback on Monday when the government announced an extra four weeks for current lockdown restrictions, resulting in cancellations and postponements for many events,
However Bigfoot Festival, which takes place in Warwickshire this weekend, was planned in accordance with step three of the roadmap – with a capacity of 4,000 and “social distancing built-in” in order to comply with current guidelines.
“We’re just stoked and can’t wait for the fans to get here. The difference is that if our festival was a week later it would have been in step four and pushed back,” founder Greg Wells told NME.
“Being in step three felt like a curse at the time, but we’ve managed to build a festival that is under a 4,000 capacity and with social distancing built-in. We’ve worked hard with local authorities and public health to get that signed off. As it turned out, we felt lucky but also sad for everyone else that’s had events pushed back.”
Fans in attendance at this weekend’s independent event will be required to take a lateral flow test, while organisers will provide table service for drinks in a bid to avoid queues. When it comes to watching bands, fans have also been asked to remain within their own bubbles.
— Primal Scream (@ScreamOfficial) June 14, 2021
“It was a real logistical challenge. There was a lot of uncertainty but we worked with great people,” said Wells. “It was a team effort, and it’s just been a great effort from everyone involved from the brewers to the bands. Now, we can’t wait for the festival to get going.”
The event marks England’s largest live performance since Blossoms played a government-mandated show in Liverpool last month to test the safe return of live music.
Wells says that the positive results of those trials show that it’s time for live music organisers to take control of their own risks.
“Everyone coming to our festival will have done a lateral flow test. The chances of actually catching anything when everything has been so well organised are minimal,” he said.
“We were gutted that stage three was pushed back and not a considered approach. It does feel like in the events industry that we’re the last thing allowed back. The ERP stuff came back stronger and I just hope we can crack on in a few weeks. But if that’s not the case, we need to manage it ourselves and let people accept a bit of personal responsibility if they want to come.”
But, until then, fans can just look forward to the welcome return of live music and, if recent weather reports are to believed, a typically damp British festival experience.
“We’ve gone through this collective trauma together over the last year, so we’re just hoping that people will keep their eyes out for each other and be considerate,” said Wells.
You can find more information about Bigfoot Festival here.