Tue 4 May 2021
We’re absolutely heartbroken to tell you that we need to cancel Greenbelt for a second year. We have spent the last few months hoping and praying that the government would step up and provide festivals like ours with the insurance protection we need to go ahead. It is clear now that we have been waiting in vain.
There are many complex issues to wrestle with when planning and delivering a festival like ours in 2021, from how we look after one another to how we can actually run what we all think of as a ‘normal’ festival. But here is the main dilemma facing us (and every festival like ours) if we choose to move ahead without the government behind us: should pandemic restrictions return in the summer and force us to cancel, or limit the way our festival operates such that it would no longer be recognisable as Greenbelt, by then it would be too late.
That’s because we would have already incurred such high costs that 2019 might well have proved to be the last ever Greenbelt. Our pockets are nowhere near deep enough to risk the future of the festival we love. Greenbelt has been somewhere to believe in for five decades, and our job as its stewards is to see it into its second half-century in rude health.
By cancelling now, we can ensure we will return to the fields next year. We stand with all our friends and partners in the events industry wrestling with the same damning choices we face, as well as the artists and festival-makers who are looking at another ruined summer.
Last year’s cancellation had a weird, horrible novelty to it: the first summer without festivals. We could barely imagine it, let alone predict that there could be a second. This year our small team has worked through the awful logic of this decision with a numbed, nauseous feeling. We know what a summer without the chance to come together feels like, and we can’t quite believe that we will all have to endure it again.
Part of the reason it feels so devastating this year is not just because of the unheeded warnings about what failure to back our industry would mean. It is also because it feels like plenty of events are being faced with this choice just as the UK is reopening. This summer promises to be better, and safer, than last. But there will be precious few festivals in it, as the enormous risk involved will be acceptable only to the biggest players.
Because of the decisions we’ve taken and the incredible generosity of our community though, we will survive this. And we’re already seeing if there’s anything we can save from all this by stripping everything away and going right back to the beginning, to create something completely new at the end of this summer. Let’s call it ‘Plan B’ for now. We can’t tell you about it quite yet, but think sunlight not screens. Give us a week or so while we work on it. We may be down. But we’re not quite out.
In the meantime, we’ll obviously be refunding everyone who wants one, and who could blame you after two years of no festival? We’ll be emailing all our ticketholders about next steps, and you can read our FAQs here. If you’re already pencilling in next year’s date then your money is safe with us and so is your ticket for next year, should you wish to rollover your ticket.
All being well, we will be together again for the full festival from 26th to the 29th August, 2022. And as soon as we have more details on a possible Plan B for this summer, you’ll be the first to hear it.
From your heartbroken (but still hopeful) Greenbelt team x