reading and Leeds Festival

Reading and Leeds festival to go ahead in August

Reading and Leeds festival organisers have confirmed that the events will run as planned from August 27-29.

Question marks were raised over whether or not the Reading and Leeds festival would be able to take place earlier this month when it was confirmed that Glastonbury Festival would be cancelled for second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 road map announcement on Monday (February 22), Reading and Leeds festival organisers have now confirmed that the events will proceed as planned.

The news was announced via the event’s Twitter count, with the message: “Following the government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to get back to the fields this summer. LET’S GO.”

Taking place over the August Bank Holiday, this year’s Reading and Leeds festival will feature headline sets from Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Queens fo the Stone Age, with Mabel, AJ Tracey, Disclosure and Catfish and the Bottlemen also on the line-up.

Reading and Leeds festival organisers have not yet confirmed whether or not any contingencies are in place should the government’s COVID-19 road map be delayed or altered in any way.

The government’s road map announced stated that June 21 is the earliest date from which all social distancing measures will be lifted, paving the way for large scale events and festival to return. 

Spread over four stages, the road map begins on March 8, with schools reopening and a slight lifting of social distancing measures, and culminates on June 21 with the complete removal of all COVID-19 restrictions. Described by the Prime Minister as “irreversible”, he was also keen to point out that the road map is very much a best case scenario timetable that is subject to change should infection rates rise.

Crucially, the road map includes provisions for the live events industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic and effectively closed since March 2020. Stage three, starting May 27, is when small-scale concerts and performances may see a return. Details on precisely what form these may take are unclear, although it is thought that they would involve socially distanced, seated audiences. Almost one month later on June 21 is when all restrictions will cease, meaning a return for concerts of all sizes, festivals and nightclubs.

The live events industry has welcomed the government’s announcement with cautious optimism. While there finally appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the sector, there are still some key questions that need to be answered before live music and events can begin planning their return.

You may also be interested in:

“It’s good news on the face of it, but I believe that this will be with restrictions, so it depends on whether these venues will be able to make economic sense doing so,” Bryan Grant, director of touring giant Britannia Row Productions, told Audio Media International.

“The government has just announced that all restrictions on events will be lifted from June 21, but can this be relied upon?”

When it comes to the possibility of lateral flow testing for live music and events, Grant added: “Several studies seem to suggest that infection rates are relatively low in these events but rapid testing and vaccination passports would help reassure ticket buyers. Several studies seem to suggest that larger venues in particular are relatively safe in terms of transmission. Can small venues afford to upgrade their ventilation systems? I think that many may not be able to and perhaps that’s an area where government could help.

“It’s immensely frustrating and indicates to me that the entertainment industry in this country has developed into one of the UKs primary domestic and export industries despite, not because of, successive Governments’ attitude to us. We are way more valuable to the exchequer than the fishing industry, for example.

“We’re still regarded as being somewhat frivolous and unnecessary when, as this lockdown has shown, we’re not only vital to this country’s economy but the social and mental well-being of its people. It’s time the establishment woke up and realised that, after several generations of development, we are also ‘establishment’.”

Keith Watson, pro audio veteran and #WeMakeEvents, steering group member, also told Audio Media International: “This is more of a roadmap out of lockdown than a roadmap to getting the industry back, which is very positive, but there are a number of things that we think the government should be focusing on in their upcoming budget.

“First is to provide grants, not loans, to businesses in the industry,” he continued. “We did a survey that found 34 per cent of companies don’t think they’ll last until June. The second is that we need protection for freelancers – over 70 per cent of people working in the industry are freelancers or self-employed, many of which weren’t eligible for financial support. Lastly, so that promoters and festival owners can take the jump and put on new events, we need government-funded insurance, as the risk of putting on an event is so high that nobody wants to take that risk.”

Reading and Leeds Festivals

“We want to stay in touch with our customers beyond Zoom!”
Read the Audio Media International partner plan.