The Southwest of England is bracing itself for traffic chaos next week as thousands of people head to Cornwall for the full solar eclipse on August 11.
With four main music festivals and countless smaller ones planned for the area, anything from 500,000 to four million people are expected to clog up the roads and public transport systems from now until three days after the eclipse.
Cheap train tickets to Cornwall sold out weeks ago and standard fares – roughly ’50 – are now “selling like hot cakes”, according to rail firm First Great Western.
The AA is advising festival-goers to use public transport, but with tickets at a premium it is inevitable there will be a large number of cars on the road.
AA spokesman Mike Johnson told NME: “If you’re thinking of driving down then you MUST pre-plan your journey.
“Make sure you know your route as best you can because it’s going to get very busy and make sure you’ve got a tent or somewhere booked to stay.”
The AA advises travelling outside of rush-hour, preferably either late at night or early in the morning.
Other warnings are being issued by doctors who advise that people don’t look directly at the sun, even with so-called eclipse viewers.
“We fully expect to deal with cases of partial and total blindness after this eclipse,” one eye specialist told nme.com. “I can’t stress enough that there really is no safe way to look at the sun. I’d advise people to look at the reflection on a piece of paper or better still watch it on TV.”
Among the main attractions are Lizard Festival at Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula from August 7-14 with performances from Kula Shaker, James, The Levellers, Femi Kuti and Juno Reactor among others.
Orbital will headline the Total Eclipse Festival at Newnham Park, Devon, which also features Asian Dub Foundation, Gregory Isaacs and the Sugar Hill Gang.
Van Morrison will share a stage with E-17 and Lonnie Donegan at the Moonshadow Eclipse Festival at Whitsand Bay, Cornwall, while the scene of last year’s Megadog beach festival, Carlyon Bay, will host the Eclipse ’99 festival featuring Happy Mondays, 808 State and Monaco.
Last week in his Daily Sport column, Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder said: “According to that geezer Nostradamus, the world is going to end this August when there’s a full solar eclipse of the sun.
“If anyone does believe what he said, get yourselves down there because it’s going to be the best way to die.”
For more festival info go to nme.com’s festival guide.
For last-minute tickets, call nme.com‘s 24-hour ticketline on 0870 121 0125 or click here to go to our online gig guide and ticket service. Calls are charged at national standard rate. For rail enquiries, ring 0345 484950. For National Express, ring 0870 580 8080.