Uncertainty over Government Covid guidance leads to cancellation of Nottingham’s Riverside Festival

Ongoing uncertainty around Covid restrictions as part of the next stage of the Government’s roadmap to recovery has led to Nottingham City Council taking the decision to cancel this year’s Riverside Festival, due to be held from Friday 6 – Sunday 8 August on Victoria Embankment.

The news follows the cancellation of this year’s Splendour Festival by organisers dhp and the postponement of the annual Nottinghamshire Pride festival until September.

Events organisers around the country are awaiting an announcement from the Government about moving to Step Four of its roadmap, due on 19 July, before confirming plans for this summer.

Mellors Group, the company behind Nottingham Beach, has said they will provide an update about this year’s event once further information from the Government about the easing of restrictions becomes clear.

In 2019, the Riverside Festival attracted around 220,000 visitors. The event includes a mile-long fun fair, three music stages, various river-based activities and a Saturday night firework display amongst other attractions.

An event of the size of Riverside requires time to adequately plan and respond to any new legislation or guidance that may need to be implemented. There are also considerable challenges and increased costs for all events this summer both in respect of securing event infrastructure due to being used at Covid test and vaccination centres and temporary staff.

No alternative date is being planned for 2021. The dates for the 2022 event are set for Friday 5, Saturday 6, and Sunday 7 August.

Many smaller scale summer events will still be able to go ahead under current guidelines, so long as Covid measures are in place and capacity is under 4,000 people. Events include:

  • Open Air Theatre (Wollaton Park & Newstead Abbey: until 20 Aug)
  • Outdoor Cinema
    (Victoria Embankment: 15-18 July, Newstead Abbey: 24-25 July, and Wollaton Park: 26-29 Aug)
  • Arboretum Sunsets (Nottingham Arboretum: 26 June – 5 Sept)

Other major events scheduled later in the year will be considered nearer the time, and measured alongside the latest Government advice.

Councillor Eunice Campbell-Clark, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture, and Schools said: “We were looking forward to bringing the Riverside Festival back for people to enjoy after a difficult year for everyone, so it’s is a terrible shame to have to cancel this well-loved event for a second year.

“We’ve also had to be fair to our performers, traders and suppliers to let them know what is happening. We have to be practical about the time it takes to plan an event of this size, and to be able to properly respond to the latest guidance. While plans were in place for the event to proceed in 2021, the reality of running an event scheduled to take place just 3 weeks after potential new guidance on 19 July, was just not practicable.

“The impact of large scale events on Covid rates is still being investigated and it is right to remain cautious. We will continue to plan for major events later in the year, which hopefully everyone will be able to enjoy.

“In the meantime, there is plenty for people to enjoy safely in the city this summer including a great programme of smaller-scale events, the recently reopened Nottingham Castle following a £31m transformation and the Titus: T.Rex is King exhibition at Wollaton Hall, the first real Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to be exhibited in England for over a century.”

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