Kendal Calling 2021 has been cancelled: “It’s heartbreaking. Infuriating”

This year's festival had been due to take place from July 29-August 1

Kendal Calling 2021 has been cancelled, the festival’s organisers have confirmed.

The event, which had been due to take place from July 29-August 1, had been set to welcome the likes of Supergrass, The Streets and Blossoms this summer.

In a statement released this morning (June 21), Kendal Calling’s organisers told ticketholders that they were “so sorry”.

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“Last Monday saw the delay of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’. As Kendal Calling sits outside of this delay we would still be in a strong position to proceed,” the statement reads. “But Monday also saw a less publicised delay; the release of the long-awaited research from the Event Research Programme (ERP) and with it, crucially, the publication of safety guidance on how we run events.

“Without this safety guidance, there are numerous aspects of the festival we cannot plan, and which could lay us wide open to last minute unforeseen regulations or requirements which could scupper an already built festival. Capacity or density restrictions, track and trace protocol, testing regime, COVID certification – a host of unknown actions required yet potentially requested too late to be implemented.”

Kendal Calling say that they understand that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) “are keen to publish the ERP findings and guidance, but that it now does not fit around No.10’s communications plan”.

“This is insulting to our entire industry, who have been awaiting the results of a pilot event that took place almost 2 months ago to inform our approach to staging events safely this summer,” the organisers said.

“Yet there was still hope. Last week we were invited to apply to join the next round of the Event Research Programme, which would manage us past this lack of guidance. This was our last chance. However, on Saturday night (June 19) we heard back that another camping festival was chosen. We have not been told the reasons why or exactly what the criteria was by the Government.”

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Addressing ticketholders, Kendal Calling told them that they wished “we were able to bring you better news, however it breaks our hearts to tell you that our 15th birthday celebrations are postponed once again”.

“Postponing in 2020 was sad but understandable. Postponing in 2021 is heartbreaking. Infuriating,” they added.

“Going two summers without a festival is devastating to all of us; we need the support of our audience now more than ever and retaining your tickets would go the longest way in helping us during this period.”

2021 tickets will be rolled over to next year’s edition of the festival, although refunds will also be available – the festival say that “information will shortly follow on this”.

Kendal Calling’s organisers also revealed in their statement that they have been denied any aid from the UK Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, Restart Grant or its Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, but stressed that a UK Government-backed insurance scheme could have enabled them to “potentially continue to plan and invest in the coming weeks”.

“We take this opportunity to urge the government to re-appraise its approach and to listen to the recommendations of its own reports, as the continued lack of leadership hampers the recovery of our live event industry.”

Two major UK festivals did take place over the weekend, with Download Festival holding a test pilot event and Bigfoot putting on a socially distanced festival.

Latitude Festival, which is due to take place from July 22-25, is also aiming to go ahead as planned next month.

“While I was disappointed in the immediate aftermath of the statement [delaying the June 21 ‘freedom day’], on reflection, I think it actually gives much more certainty of Latitude being able happen than if he had loosened things on Monday [June 21] because the country will have strangled the variant’s ability to spread to a greater degree through increased vaccination than if we had opened fully this coming Monday,” organiser Melvin Benn said in a statement last week.

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