Stendhal Festival, Northern Ireland’s first music festival to be held since the outbreak of Covid-19, will host 2,500 people today and tomorrow, 9-10 July, and its organisers will return to the site with a second festival for 5,000 from 12-14 August.
Taking place at Ballymully Cottage Farm in County Londonderry, Stendhal Festival is hosting just a quarter of the 10,000 fans it accommodated at the last event in 2019.
The festival follows Stormont’s announcement that live music in Northern Ireland could resume from 5 July, as part of further relaxations to Covid-19 rules. Unlike indoor events, where screens are placed in front of musicians and volume is restricted to an ambient sound level, no volume restrictions apply to live music at outdoor events.
With funding from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the family orientated music, poetry, comedy and arts festival will be staged with Covid mitigation measures in place.
Stendhal Festival event director Ross Parkhill said social distancing will be required, masks in any indoor space will be mandatory and “optional but recommended” when outside. Attendees will be required to remain in bubbles in the campsites and told not to enter other tents.
Parkhill said, “There is quite a list of things we must put in place and that our visitors must adhere to in order to make sure everyone follows all the protocols, which we will be publishing on our website and across social media very soon, so yeah it will be different but happily it will be.”
On attendance he said, “We could run for more people but we want to ease ourselves back into things because there are a number of new protocols around social distancing that we have to implement and manage, and we want to ensure that we get that spot on.”
“At long last our indigenous musicians, technical staff, crew and everyone else who works in the industry can start climbing the ladder back to normality. There is a way to go but knowing that the process has now started in earnest is an incredible relief.”