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Playing it safe is the watchword from Warwick’s biggest festival as organisers plan the return of live music in the open air.
The town’s folk festival – running this year from July 15 to 18 – brings people from all over the UK to the area. Last year’s gathering fell victim to the pandemic but festival bosses are determined to go ahead this time round.
The Government’s schedule for a staged lifting of all the social distancing rules has a target of seeing the country fully out of all restrictions of June 21. This ‘earliest possible’ date falls three weeks before the festival is set to welcome folk fans to its new site in the shadow of Warwick Castle.
If the roadmap delivers on time event organisers up and down the country expect a deluge of interest in festivals in the UK. LIve gatherings are also expected to benefit from any lack of confidence in going abroad in the summer.
But while a return to the normality of festival life is welcomed, organisers of Warwick’s 40 year old festival understand that many music fans will be wary of taking things too fast.
Festival Director Dick Dixon says striking a balance between family fun and safety could hold the key.
‘We feel that even if the restrictions have all been wiped away, many people will still want to feel safe and take things carefully until we’re all certain the situation has improved.
“With that in mind we’re going to keep a lot of the safety measures we’ve got used to over the last year or so in place. We’ll have reduced numbers on each day and plenty of space in and around all the gigs.
“There will also be hand sanitisers and we’ll be working to ensure that those who want to keep socially-distanced are able to do so,” he said.
The festival is also hoping to bring in an app allowing people to get their drinks from the bar without having to venture into the beer tent.
With many regulars expected to snap up the chance of a long-awaited weekend in the open air, organisers have added an extra field to the site – already larger than the previous home at Warwick School – to allow campers to spread out as much as they feel necessary.
Reduced numbers inside the main venue will also help ensure more space and the festival is planning to feature a giant screen to allow hundreds to sit in the open air to enjoy the music.
Festival chairman John Plumb said: “We’re as keen as ever to bring music back to the town and to inject a real boost into the local economy. But it has to be done in a way that people are comfortable with and so the emphasis will be on keeping things as safe as possible.”
The festival’s line-up offers top class performers including Show of Hands, Seth Lakeman, Spiers & Boden, and Nancy Kerr alongside a full weekend programme of music, craft shopping and a wide range of festival food.
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