For the second year in a row Glastonbury Festival has been cancelled, with devastating ramifications.

Founders, Michael and Emily Eavis released an official statement, saying: ‘in spite of our efforts to move Heaven & Earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the Festival happen this year. We are so sorry to let you all down’.


Music put on pause

This is the first time since pre-1979 that it has been cancelled for more than one year. Thousands of fans will now miss out on the world-renowned experience of going to Glastonbury. For many in my age group — who started university at the beginning of the pandemic and will most likely be leaving by the time the festival returns, hopefully in 2022 — Glastonbury is seen as a right of passage.

On a more serious note, the ongoing global lockdowns are doing irrefutable damage to the music industry as a whole. Jobs are being lost and lives put on hold; nothing captures this more than this second cancellation.

Glastonbury is on many young people’s bucket lists. And the festival doesn’t discriminate. People of all ages, from all backgrounds come together to enjoy the huge variety of musical talent. Many avid Glastonbury fans expressed their disappointment by recalling past experiences. Saying:

‘It was brilliant and I made amazing friends. I even turned 19 while I was there, which was so incredible … It goes without saying that cancelling this year was the right decision, but I’m super disappointed’.

Lives put on hold

But while last year was merely disappointing, this year brings many serious financial concerns. Emily Eavis recently made a public plea for the government to provide financial insurance. Concerns around the survival of the festival are very much in the minds of the founders and fans alike.

Traders selling food and goods at Glastonbury will be amongst the hardest hit groups, missing out on a huge chunk of their annual revenue. Many have had to sell their businesses, their stock and vehicles just to make ends meet. Charities are also a huge part of the Glastonbury culture. The charity Children’s World have expressed deep concerns. Their volunteer-run cafe and bar functions as a crucial fundraising source.

The social and economic impacts are clearly inseparable here. Lack of funding for charities means that many will be suffocated and forced to make critical cutbacks.

Glastonbury has grown from being simply a cultural event to a British institution — quite possibly, more beneficial to us than the Monarchy. It provides people with an income, a business, an experience and for musicians in particular, an opportunity.

Snatched opportunities

Glastonbury Festival has a strong community spirit. Their Emerging Talent competition, for example, helps boost the careers of aspiring musicians by giving them a slot on one of the main stages. The 2020 winner was Hip-Hop and R&B singer R.A.E., who was promised a slot at the 2021 festival after last year’s cancellation. Once again her hopes have been frustrated.

One can only imagine how it must feel for her and other young performers to have such a life-changing opportunity snatched away. For some musicians however, their career may even be over before it began.

The UK’s live music sector has been threatened with 17,000 job losses. Live music’s appeal comes largely from the crowd, the atmosphere, the closeness of strangers who have come together with a common interest. All this has now been banned for the foreseeable future. So what’s left?

When Glastonbury eventually resumes, it will be a great day for so many diverse groups of people. We can only hope that those suffering due to its cancellation will make it through this extremely difficult period, along with much of the world.

Glastonbury has always been culturally significant. Hopefully, on its return we will appreciate what it truly does for us all.