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Michael Eavis “moving heaven and earth” to make Glastonbury 2021 happen, but COVID uncertainties means it’s not guaranteed

By | Published on Tuesday 4 August 2020

Glastonbury Festival

Michael Eavis has said that he will “move heaven and earth” to try to make Glastonbury 2021 happen, but that – with so many unknowns remaining about the long-term impact of COVID-19 – that “doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen”.

Most people in the touring and festival sectors are currently operating on the assumption that live music at all levels will return to something nearing normal in 2021 because, well, you know, you have to really don’t you?

At the same time, it does seem that more people are now starting to take seriously what was previously considered as an unnecessarily pessimistic position, which is that some elements of live music – large-scale events in particular – may not be properly back until 2022.

What is certain is how little is certain at the moment as the COVID-19 shutdown continues at one level or another in multiple countries, and lockdown measures return in some places where they had previously been lifted as a result second spikes in the virus.

Even where live events are allowed to return, there remains much debate as to what social distancing rules will have to stay in place, and what impact that has on the nature and commercial viability of shows.

On top of all that, it’s still unknown how many consumers will be put off attending large gatherings even once they properly resume, and it remains to be seen to what extent possible increases in international travel and insurance costs impact on the profitability of live music events.

All of which is why Eavis – while still very much working on the assumption that his festival will return next year after a forced year off in 2020 – is nevertheless preparing himself for the worst.

In an interview with ITV News he mused that while outdoor events for around 500 people may be entirely possible even with social distancing rules in place, an event with 250,000 attendees poses all sorts of extra challenges.

“I’m still hoping I’m going to be running next year and I’m going to be moving heaven and earth to make sure that we do”, he went on. “But that doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen”. Thinking that a return to norm in 2021 is assured “is just wishful thinking, really”, he added.

However, even if the worst does happen, he now seems certain that his festival can weather the COVID-19 storm, despite previously telling The Guardian that a second cancellation in 2021 would likely bankrupt his event.

Asked in the new interview whether he worries about the future of the Glastonbury Festival, he says “I am confident that it will survive”, adding “it will come back – probably stronger actually”.

However, while stressing again that work very much continues for a 2021 edition, he nevertheless reiterated, “the only certainty I think is the year after, 2022, to be perfectly candid, so we might have to wait for two years maybe”.