Northern Ireland’s first socially distanced music festival is being planned for August

Stendhal Festival are behind the 'Unlocked' series of events

Northern Ireland’s first socially distanced music festival could be set to debut in August.

The organisers of Stendhal Festival are behind ‘Unlocked’, having formulated plans for the event series — billed as being “the first festival of its kind in the history of Northern Ireland” — following the cancellation of Stendhal 2020.

“Expect special performances from some of the very best talent the island of Ireland has to offer, beer gardens, delicious food and perhaps best of all, over 20 acres of outdoor scenic countryside to enjoy,” a brief event description reads.

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Set to be held at Ballymully Cottage Farm in Limavady initially over two weekends in August (August 21-22 and 28-29), the plans are subject to the government’s policy on mass gatherings in August. ‘Unlocked”s organisers are hopeful that it will take place over five weekends in August and September, with each weekend having a capacity of between 500 and 1000 people.

Stendhal’s full proposal for holding ‘Unlocked’ is available to view online, laying out how it intends to create a safe and socially distanced environment for its attendees. The planned safety measures include adhering to the two-metre distancing rule (although this will be amended to one-metre if the government policy changes), daily alcohol limits (patrons will not be allowed to bring in their own alcohol) and thermal temperature checks at every entry point.

In a statement about ‘Unlocked’, Festival Director Ross Parkhill explained: “We are confident that we have come up with an event plan that will make going to outdoor music events safer than going to the supermarket.

“We will be liaising with the local council, the police, fire service and ambulance service to ensure that we have covered every possible eventuality and how it could relate to social distancing and health and safety.

“We are confident that we have put in place a design that will give these bodies the confidence that what we are proposing can be achieved and achieved safely.”

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Parkhill added that “ultimately the decision on if we can actually go ahead will rest with the executive, but with the recent relaxation of lots of lockdown measures, we see no reason as to why what we are proposing wouldn’t be deemed safe.

“It’s outdoors, we have a huge space to work with and we can set it up so that everyone can abide by social distancing measures at all times.

“We feel a sense of duty to produce some sort of gathering this year, it certainly won’t be massive, but it will certainly pack a punch as one of the first live music events to proceed this summer – our work is needed now more than ever.”

Tickets for ‘Unlocked’ are available to purchase from Saturday (July 4).

Earlier this month, One Night Records announced their plans to open a socially distanced yet immersive music event and venue in London.

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