“It Wasn’t Over… It Still Isn’t Over.”
Sure, the 2020 festival season is looking… a bit rough. The cancellation news has already been announced for some of the world’s most iconic music festivals, namely Glastonbury and Tomorrowland, with others such as Burning Man going virtual and it’s all but certain we will continue to see more events picked off one by one. We’re a few weeks into the normal summer festival season which typically runs from April through October and players in the industry have been forced to make some difficult decisions: to cancel or not to cancel?
Let’s ignore the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing impact of the coronavirus for just a moment. While the likes of Coachella has merely been postponed until October and Primavera Sound delayed until late August, the mild seasonal shift from spring to fall in SoCal’s desert region and Barcelona made these particular festival pivots much simpler than most. For much of the world, extending the season further into the autumn months, while seemingly a viable solution, comes with a completely different set of issues and an increased risk of adverse weather conditions. (Shameless Product Plug: Unlike most insurance policies, ours comes standard with adverse weather coverage. 🌧 or ☀️, we’ve got you!)
On a different note, even though many countries around the world are beginning to loosen restrictions, there is still a long way to go before COVID-19 is no longer seen as a threat and large-scale events will be among the last to be given the green light. In countries such as Germany, Denmark and Belgium, all “mass gatherings” have been banned until at least the 31st of August meaning the 30 week season has been reduced to less than 10. The condensed season means more competition not only for festival goers but for suppliers, sites and staff as well.
Even with postponed events or those that are scheduled toward the end of festival season, it’s likely that social distancing measures or at the very least increased regulations regarding cleanliness and sanitation are very real outcomes. Embracing social distancing and barreling onward puts festival organizers in a tough spot. In the best of times, budgets are tight so a reduction in attendance or an increase in expenses may make many events infeasible. Adding to an already astounding workload, event managers will have even more responsibility and will need to enlist more support to pull off these legendary experiences.
On the bright side, local authorities and other parties involved in festival regulations may be more flexible and provide additional resources to help ensure the smooth operation of future events. We agree things look bleak, but in the spirit of Noah Calhoun we’re not going to lose hope for 2020 just yet.