Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Graham Clark
Features Writer
8:00 AM 22nd June 2021

Kendal Calling 2021 Is Cancelled

Scheduled to take place between 29th July - 1st August, Kendal Calling had been set to return in 2021 after 2020’s show was forced to postpone due to Covid-19. Whilst the delay in the UK roadmap for reopening was delayed to a date prior to Kendal Calling’s 2021 dates, the lack of clarity or communication from the UK government on its findings from the Event Research Programme has now left festivals in the dark on how to best run events safely - in turn leaving Kendal Calling unable to go ahead in 2021.

It’s another blow for the UK festival industry, which has been calling for logistical support and guidance for an extended period. A recent DCMS (Department Of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) Committee report placed blame on Government inaction over insurance for festivals as a key factor for another potential “lost summer” for shows and large-scale events. The report also found that ministers “ignored warnings and multiple opportunities to give insurance backing for cancellations” and despite its calls for ministers to “act now by providing a safety net for live events scheduled to take place after 21 June by introducing a time-limited insurance scheme” - festivals such as Kendal Calling have yet to receive such action and therefore are left in a position where they cannot take place this year.

Speaking about the festival’s cancellation in an official statement, Kendal Calling said:

“Dear festival family,

We are so sorry.

Last Monday saw the delay of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’. As Kendal Calling sits outside of this delay we would still be in a strong position to proceed. But Monday also saw a less publicised delay; the release of the long-awaited research from the Event Research Programme (ERP) pilot events, which would inform the publication of crucial new safety guidance on how we run events.

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 we may be required to adhere to, any of which could scupper an already built festival.

We wish that we were able to bring you better news however it breaks our hearts to tell you that our fifteenth birthday celebrations are postponed once again. Postponing in 2020 was sad but understandable. Postponing in 2021 is heart-breaking. Infuriating.

Our understanding is that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are keen to publish the ERP report, but it is being held back as it doesn’t fit in with No.10’s current communications plan. This is insulting to our entire industry, who have been awaiting the results of a festival pilot event that took place almost 2 months ago to inform our approach to staging events safely this summer.

Yet there was still hope. Last week we were invited to apply to join the next phase of the Event Research Programme, which would manage us past this lack of guidance. This was our last chance, however on Saturday night we heard back that another camping festival was chosen. We have not been told the reasons why nor what the criteria was.

Over the last day we have had the grim undertaking of informing hundreds of talented and dedicated individuals that, yet again, we are unable to offer them the work they badly need.

If calls for a government-backed insurance scheme had been heeded we could have potentially continued over the coming weeks. We take this opportunity to urge the government to re-appraise its approach and to listen to the recommendations of its own reports.

Please believe us when we say that we tried our best. Despite Kendal Calling having been denied aid from the Cultural Recovery Fund, Restart Grant or the Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund we have 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.

Going two summers without a festival is a heartfelt blow to all of us; we need the support of our audience now more than ever and retaining your tickets to our sold-out festival will go a long way in helping us during this period.

Festivals are about more than just music, they’re about making memories, dancing around with your friends, making new friends and being together. They are a voyage of discovery, and we can’t wait to join you on that journey once more.

From those first tinnies around camp, to that first band walking on stage - we know the return of Kendal Calling is going to be a euphoric moment for all of us.

Any tickets will automatically roll over to next year’s festival which will take place from 28th - 31st July 2022.

We know not everyone will be able to make the new dates, or simply may prefer a refund, in which case they will be made available. Information will shortly follow on this.

With a love which only grows stronger the longer we are apart,

Andy, Ben and the KC family x”