Despite unprecedented strain on the supply chain, the UK’s festival industry entertained the largest number of people over the August Bank Holiday weekend for more than two years, with around 500,000 people attending events up and down the UK.
A handful of festivals alone, owned by major corporations, were attended by around 355,000 music fans per day, with smaller independent festivals including The Big Feastival (25,000) and Manchester Pride Festival (10,000) also pulling in large crowds.
The big five was made up of Festival Republic’s 105,000-capacity Reading and Leeds (75,000), Live Nation’s Creamfields (70,000), Superstruct Entertainment’s Victorious Festival on Southsea Common – the UK’s biggest city-based festival (65,000) – and AEG Presents’ 40,000-capacity All Points East (pictured below).
All events took place without social distancing or the requirement for attendees to wear a mask but strict Covid-19 mitigation related entry requirements were in place. Reading and Leeds festivals helped play a role in the NHS vaccination programme with pop-up vaccination clinics on site throughout the weekend events, including a vaccine bus at Reading. Both sites offered the opportunity to speak to health professionals who were able to answer any questions or concerns.
The many supply chain challenges facing the sector have been raised on numerous occasions in Access, but no mayor problems were reported at festivals over the Bank Holiday weekend. However, at Victorious, well publicised complaints about long queues for toilets led its organisers to issue a statement explaining that they were a result of supply chain issues and staff shortages. It said, “We will carry out a full review of the facilities and make any changes necessary for next year.”
Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn told The Reading Chronicle the Reading Festival had been put together in six weeks and that the supply chain had proven a major challenge: “It’s been put together in six weeks, really. And it’s on the back of a pandemic, it’s on the back of Brexit, it’s on the back of the lack of a supply chain.
“And that’s real! There isn’t a b***** supply chain! Half the toilets at Leeds Festival are Glastonbury toilets because there were no other toilets to hire.”
The Reading Festival saw the tragic death of a 20-year-old female who was suffering from a life-threatening pre-existing condition. Festival Republic said the woman’s death was not related to a drug incident, and that she was quickly taken from the festival site to hospital.