France’s Hellfest cancel 2021 edition: “We do not wish to blame the government”

"A year has passed since the outbreak of the epidemic and it seems that little has been done for a return to a 'normal life'"

French festival Hellfest have cancelled their 2021 edition, warning another “dead summer” for festivals and culture.

The hard rock festival was set to take place across the weekend of June 18-20 in Clisson in the west of France.

On Friday (February 19), the festival released a statement confirming the cancellation, writing: “Hellbangers, we hoped for the best but the worst is coming. The uncertainties about the health situation and the latest government regulations are forcing us to cancel the 2021 edition of the Hellfest Festival next June (18th, 19th and 20th).

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“Thanks to your support the last few weeks, both the public opinion and the media were alerted about the critical situation of our industry (like many others). The Government reacted quickly and organized meetings with members of the Ministry of Culture and other French Festivals in order to explain the situation and to ask for answers regarding the organization of summer festivals.

“In a ‘final’ meeting on Thursday, the 18th of February, the verdict was returned. Summer festivals will be allowed under drastic conditions : 5,000 seated people and social distancing. These requirements make the organisation of our 2021 festival impossible and force us to postpone once again our anniversary edition.”

Hellbangers, We hoped for the best but the worst is coming. The uncertainties about the health situation and the…

Posted by Hellfest Open Air Festival on Friday, February 19, 2021

Adding that they “do not wish to blame the government,” the festival said: “We are well aware that the health situation requires everyone to be cautious. However, these measures are more or less the same as last year resulting in a ‘dead summer’ for the festivals and culture in general.

“A year has passed since the outbreak of the epidemic and it seems that little has been done for a return to a ‘normal life’ despite a greater knowledge of the disease, the vaccinations, the tests … We asked for answers, we had them…

“We obviously cannot be happy about those restrictions, which goes against the Rock’n’Roll experience we want to offer to our festival-goers. A festival should be a place of freedom, where social interactions and spirit of celebration cannot be sacrificed.”

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The festival said that ideas of hosting the festival with social distancing and a reduced capacity would “go against the very DNA of the festival,” adding that they “owe our festival-goers consistency in the project we want to offer them and for which they have agreed to pay a high price”.

A number of studies have been held over past months, looking into the return of festivals this year. Primavera Sound festival’s recent trial for the return of gigs with no social distancing but same-day antigen testing found no infection rate, while a study in Germany last year found a “low to very low risk” of coronavirus spreading at indoor gigs – concluding that “good ventilation and social distancing are key”.

The Music Venue Trust has said that gigs could potentially return in the spring, while London’s The 100 Club has trialled a new system to combat airborne pathogens.

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