In a statement, WOMAD said that following a meeting with the licensing authority and the combined emergency services and after taking on “government advice on halting the spread of Covid-19,” the festival could not go ahead.
“It is clear that in order to meet the festival’s goal of protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of the whole WOMAD community the festival is unable to proceed this year,” the statement read.
Gabriel, who is the founder of the event, added: “Like many others, we have been hoping, waiting and watching the Coronavirus situation. Finally, we have been told that we will not be allowed to hold WOMAD this year at Charlton Park. Safety for all of our festival goers, artists and our own staff surpasses everything.
— WOMAD UK (@WOMADfestival) April 8, 2020
“All of us involved with WOMAD have already been really touched by the help and generous offers of many of those we depend on to make the festival come to life. Many of the artists have already offered, or agreed, to play for us next year and we will now put our energies into making a great WOMAD 2021.”
He continued: “We hope to see you all at Charlton Park next year for a big celebration, when we’ve put this meanie back in the bottle. Your love and support for the dream that is WOMAD, has always meant a lot to us, but especially now. Thank you and stay safe.”
The festival’s director Chris Smith added: “We are all experiencing extraordinary and worrying times – for our families, our friends and our communities but the message that we must remember is that the world is united right now, and we must pull together and show respect to each other. This is what WOMAD has always been about, and it’s more pertinent than ever now.
“Nothing matters more than our responsibility to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of the WOMAD community and through that the wider community in which we live. We must support our emergency services, our neighbours and do all that we can to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Ticket holders for WOMAD 2020 can use their tickets for WOMAD 2021 or can exchange them for a full refund.
Organisers added: “The same applies to tickets being bought in instalments. These can be either paused and payments picked up again next year for WOMAD 2021 or claim a refund of the face value of the ticket.”