Kendal Calling 2021 cancelled: Organisers ‘heartbroken and infuriated’ as event becomes latest live music casualty

Organisers say despite lack of financial support they had been prepared to go ahead this summer, but cited lack of guidance over safety for guests as main reason behind cancellation

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 21 June 2021 12:06
Festival goers enjoy being back in the mosh pit at Download Festival pilot

Cumbria’s Kendal Calling festival has been forced to cancel after Boris Johnson’s announcement that the final stage of lockdown lifting was delayed until 19 July.

The news caused additional fear and uncertainty for the live music industry, which was already one of the worst-affected by the pandemic.

Organisers posted a statement from the official Kendal Calling social media accounts, citing the delay of research from the Event Research Programme (ERP) which was supposed to include safety guidance for how live events can be run safely.

“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,” the organisers said.

“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.”

The organisers added 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,” they wrote. “Postponing in 2021 is heart-breaking. Infuriating.”

Fans and supporters shared their views on social media, with many blaming the government for its lack of support or clarity towards the live music industry.

“This is on the toes of Boris Johnson; his criminal delays dealing with the Delta variant, the lack of an insurance scheme, and a catalogue of lies & ineptitude from the Tories,” DJ Dave Haslam tweeted.

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The statement from Kendal Calling revealed that they understood that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) was keen to publish the findings from the ERP but that “does not fit around No 10’s communication plan”.

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

According to the organisers, Kendal Calling received no support from the Cultural Recovery Fund, Restart Grant or the Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

Despite this, they had worked “harder than ever with a clear goal in mind – to experience the joy and love that the fields we know so well are famous for. I think we speak for us all when I say – we needed this.”

Tickets for the 2021 event will roll over automatically to 2022, for an event on 28-31 July. Guests who cannot make these dates are being offered a refund.

Over the weekend, 10,000 fans gathered at a pilot event for Download Festival, which was headlined by Enter Shikari, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, and Bullet For My Valentine.

The event was held as part of the government’s series of tests to see how coronavirus spreads at large-scale outdoor gatherings.

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