Music festivals face being axed due to no Covid cancellation insurance

More music festivals due to take place this year face being axed because of lack of Covid cancellation insurance, organisers warn

  •  Organisers warn more festivals could be cancelled without government backing
  • Around a quarter of UK festivals have already been cancelled over uncertainty 
  • MPs want the PM to back a £250million insurance scheme for event organisers
  • Comes after 70,000 capacity Boomtown cancelled 2021 festival over insurance 

Music festivals set to take place this year could be scrapped again unless there is a government backed insurance scheme, organisers have warned.  

Around a quarter of UK festivals have already been called off over uncertainty surround the pandemic, including Boomtown, a Winchester based event due to take place in August. 

In February, the event sold out its 66,000 capacity, but it has now been postponed to 2022 due to a lack of coronavirus cancellation insurance. 

Music festivals could be scrapped again if  the government don’t back an insurance scheme, festival organisers have warned

Glastonbury Festival, the traditional season curtain-raiser in June, has also been postponed to 2022 and will instead run this year online, with others delaying their events to September and October. 

Organisers are warning that the rest of the planned events for 2021 are also at risk without the urgent intervention of the government. 

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has called on the government to back cancellation insurance, which would allow organisers to plan events without suffering financial losses if they are forced to cancel them.      

‘We have been warning government that the UK’s 2021 festival season would be quickly eroded if they failed to act on cancellation insurance,’ Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) chief executive Paul Reed, told the BBC. 

It comes after Boomtown, a 70,000-person music festival, cancelled this summer’s event, blaming the lack of a government-backed insurance scheme.

‘It’s now red alert for the UK’s festival season.’  

He added that nearly three quarters of AIF members will require financial support to return in 2022 if they have to postpone this year.  

Meanwhile, dozens of Tory MPs have written to Boris Johnson to demand he step in to ensure live music events and festivals can go ahead this summer.

The 42 MPs want the Prime Minister to back a £250million insurance scheme for event organisers to ensure festivals can go ahead after 21 June.

Reminding Mr Johnson of his promise of a ‘one-way road to freedom’ by 21 June in accordance with the roadmap, the MPs write that ‘this underwriting should not cost the taxpayer a penny’.

Around a quarter of UK festivals have already been called off over uncertainty surround the pandemic

Among the signatories are Mark Harper and Steve Baker, chairman and deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers.

The letter said: ‘With the success of the vaccine rollout and as we head towards 21 June, it’s vital that ministers act now to ensure live music events and festivals can go ahead this summer by assuming contingent liabilities against cancellation and restrictions imposed by government.

‘Without this, most music festivals and live events will be cancelled this summer with countless job losses and business closures.

‘This scheme would save £1.1billion of costs to the industry, would give confidence to organisers so that they can prepare for their festivals to go ahead, would turbocharge Britain’s economic recovery and would bring hope to millions of festival-goers and young people – who have borne the brunt of lockdown – that life this summer will be a normal one.’

Dozens of Tory MPs have written to Boris Johnson to demand he step in to ensure live music events and festivals can go ahead this summer.

It piles more pressure on the Treasury to insure festivals through an indemnity arrangement, which has been backed by the likes of Jools Holland and Robert Plant.

The government has said it is exploring if further support can be provided.  

So far, the Culture Recovery Fund has spent more than £34m supporting festivals including Glastonbury, Boomtown and the Hay Literary Festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, a spokesperson said. 

The government plans to run a test event in Sefton Park in Liverpool over the Bank Holiday weekend to try to work out how festivals can reopen in the city. 

It is hoped the results of the pilot will be positive and that organisers will be able to secure insurance for their events this summer. 

The Association of British Insurers said: ‘We understand that this has been a difficult and uncertain time for the events industry.

It added that commercial insurers are unable to offer cover with the ongoing pandemic.   

Festivals pull the plug for this summer… while others are determined to go ahead 



When: August 11-15   Where: Matterley Estate, Hampshire


When: July 9-11   Where: Hyde Park, London 


When: June   Where: Donnington Park, Leicestershire


When: June 2021  Where: Somerset 



When: May 28-31    Where: Radio 1 and BBC Sounds


When: May 13-14    Where: Brighton  



When: August 27-29    Where: Victoria Park, London


When: August 27-29     Where: Kingham, Oxfordshire


When: August 11-15     Where: Catton Park, Derbyshire


When: July 29 – August 1   Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset


When: August 26-29   Where: Daresbury, Cheshire


When: September 16-19 (rescheduled)  Where: Seaclose Park, Newport


When: July 29 – August 1   Where: Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria


When: July 22-25    Where: Henham Park, Suffolk  


When: August 27-29   Where: Little John’s Farm, Reading; Bramham Park, Leeds 


When: September 10-12 (rescheduled)   Where: Crystal Palace Park, London 

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