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BBC Radio 1 revives Big Weekend as virtual festival

By | Published on Wednesday 6 May 2020

BBC Radio 1

One of the first big festivals in the UK to be called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic – BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend – is back on! The radio station’s annual live event will take place later this month as planned. Except not in Dundee. Or anywhere, really.

The BBC has announced that Radio 1 will instead broadcast 50 performances over the weekend from artists in their own homes. And to remind you what actual proper non-living-room-based live music is like, the station will also play another 50 performances from previous years of the Big Weekend. The first five acts to be confirmed for this enterprise are Sam Smith, Biffy Clyro, Anne-Marie, Young T & Bugsey and Rita Ora.

“I’m so pleased we can bring the listeners a brand new version of our Big Weekend this year”, says Radio 1 breakfast host Greg James. “It’s our absolute favourite event of the year and we love saying thanks to our listeners for being such a big part of the radio station”.

“It’ll be a great opportunity to re-live some of our favourite performances from over the years and although it’ll be a technical nightmare, having some new performances from artists’ houses will be great for everyone to have something fun to watch and listen to over the bank holiday weekend”, he continues. “And if it all goes wrong, we can just blame the pandemic and say that at least we tried”.

That’s the spirit! The plan is to structure the whole thing as if it’s really happening like a festival. So there will be five virtual stages: The Radio 1 Stage, featuring all new performances; the Radio 1 Dance Stage, featuring brand new DJ sets; the Headliner Stage, featuring classic headline performances; the 1Xtra Stage, featuring new and old performances from 1Xtra-supported artists; and the BBC Music Introducing Stage, featuring new performances from emerging artists.

Not only will there be virtual stages hosting virtual performances, there’ll also be a virtual merch stall selling virtual merch in aid of virtual charities. OK, the merch and charities might be real rather than virtual. The whole thing will be accessible via Radio 1 and the BBC Sounds app, you know, the Beeb’s virtual radio set with its on-demand functionality that makes old-school radio virtually redundant. So tune in for virtual enjoyment everybody!