Coronavirus forces Glastonbury Festival to cancel 50th anniversary event

The music event – one of the world’s biggest – is attended by more than 200,000 people

FILE PHOTO: Taylor Swift performs at the iHeartRadio Wango Tango concert in Carson, California, U.S., June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
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Glastonbury Festival, one of the world's largest music events, has been cancelled due the coronavirus pandemic.

Set to take place in late June, it would have been the 50th anniversary of the world-famous festival.

Announcing the news, organisers Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily said: “We are so sorry to announce this, but Glastonbury 2020 will have to be cancelled, and this will be an enforced fallow year for the festival.

“Clearly this was not a course of action we hoped to take for our 50th anniversary event, but following the new government measures announced this week – and in times of such unprecedented uncertainty – this is now our only viable option.”

They went on to say that even if the situation were to improve by June, they would not be able to spend the coming months with crew on site making preparations for the festival.

People who secured passes for 2020 will have their tickets rolled over, while those who want their deposits back can claim a refund.

Glastonbury Festival, which takes place in Somerset, south-west England, is attended by 200,000 people, with more than 1,000 acts on the bill.

The 50th anniversary celebrations were set to be headlined by Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Diana Ross, with Dua Lipa, Lana Del Ray and FKA Twigs also set to play.

They said: “We were so looking forward to welcoming you all for our 50th anniversary with a line-up of fantastic artists and performers that we were incredibly proud to have booked.”

The first wave of acts for the festival was released earlier this month, with Emily Eavis saying at the time it came with the “best of intentions”.

“As things stand we are still working hard to deliver our 50th anniversary Festival in June and we are very proud of the bill that we have put together over the past year or so,” she said. “No one has a crystal ball to see exactly where we will all be 15 weeks from now, but we are keeping our fingers firmly crossed that it will be here at Worthy Farm for the greatest show on Earth.”

News of the cancellation, announced on Wednesday, comes as the UK government continues to step up measures to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus. More than 1,900 people have been infected in the country, with 71 deaths confirmed.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised people to stay at home and limit all unnecessary social contact, while all mass gatherings organised in the UK will no longer have the support of the emergency services – which will have been a critical blow for the festival.

Other major events around the world have already been cancelled as a result of the outbreak, including the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, as well as sporting events including the Bahrain Grand Prix and the English Premier League.