Young people are “desperate to be released” from the tyranny of parents and Zoom, said the organisers of Reading and Leeds festival as they confirmed the event would go ahead this year.
Festival Republic, organisers of the two-city weekender, one of the UK’s biggest outdoor events, said the event would go ahead following the government’s roadmap to reopening the country from Covid lockdown, tweeting: “Following the government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to get back to the fields this summer. LET’S GO.”
Festival Republic director Melvin Benn told the Guardian that the event, which was cancelled last year and is due to happen in August, did not yet have insurance as it was currently impossible to buy, but he was hopeful that the government would include an insurance package “in some form or another” in the budget next week.
Boris Johnson has pledged that all adults in the UK will be offered their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July, a fact that Benn said had given organisers confidence to reconfirm the festival’s lineup.
“We’re enthusiastic, we’re excited, and we’re certain that it’s going to go ahead,” he said. He added: “Young people are so desperate to be released among their peers, without parents and Zoom and school and college overseeing every minute of every day. They are a coiled spring and we have to do everything to get this on the road for them.”
The news comes weeks after the organisers of Glastonbury officially cancelled its 2021 event, saying “we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year”.
Reading will return to its Richfield Avenue venue while Leeds take place in Bramham Park. The pair of festivals will share a lineup which includes headliners Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Disclosure and Queens of the Stone Age.
Benn has been bullish about the event going ahead previously, last year saying a strong testing regime would ensure it went ahead, adding in January that he felt “very positive” the festival would happen.
The return of Reading and Leeds was cautiously welcomed as a moment of hope for the UK’s live music industry, which saw its festival circuit wiped out by the pandemic last year.
Greg Parmley, the chief executive of UK Live, a trade body for the live music industry, called the news “a great moment that will give people hope of better times to come” but said the festival season was still in danger and called on the government to provide more funding.
“The prime minister’s announcement on Monday has given some organisers confidence but there is still a large amount of uncertainty ahead of us,” he said. “With the government only committing to provide a week’s notice on the lifting of all restrictions, this will mean for many it will just be too late and we will see further cancellations.”
Annabella Coldrick, the chief executive of the Music Manager’s Forum, said it was the first step on the road to recovery for the decimated industry. “We are desperate for live music to come back, our members and artists haven’t earned anything for at least a year now – but we are not out of the woods yet,” she said.
Coldrick added that many early summer events had been cancelled and could not get insurance, while restrictions on international travel plus additional costs related to Brexit could seriously curtail potential earnings.
“We are all keeping fingers crossed but no manager thinks we will return to normal before 2022, which is why it is so important the government continues to support the creative industries until normality returns.”