What Will Music Festivals Look Like Post-COVID?

After the devastating news that Glastonbury festival won’t be running for the second year in a row, many of us music fans are questioning what the pandemic will mean for festivals post-COVID. Whilst it can be nice to bask in blissful ignorance and declare life will be the same once the pandemic is over, the reality of the situation is, there are still a lot of questions left to be answered.

Coronavirus has had a profound impact on all parts of society. Life post-COVID remains unknown. We anticipate that music-festivals will look somewhat different from what we once knew. That’s not to say we won’t ever get to experience the incomparable joys of standing in a field with hundreds of strangers, singing our hearts out and sloshing pints over randomers raincoats. It is to say there might be small, conscious changes implemented in the running and attending of music festivals.

If the ongoing pandemic has taught us anything, it’s patience. As frustrating as it may be, this patience is what’s going to aid us as we transition out of the pandemic and towards a more ‘normal’ way of living. Whilst we’re desperate to put on our old wellies and see our favourite bands live, we have to be patient and accept the changes such a profound and ​unprecedented tragedy has had on our society.

Smaller Capacity

Glastonbury festival attracts a crowd of upwards of two hundred thousand people; a number that is almost incomprehensible when you haven’t seen more than a handful of people in the past year. An event with so many people was unlikely to go ahead in 2021. Whilst the cancellation of the UK’s largest festival for the second year running is another disappointment in a sea of upsets for​ music fans​, the festival’s founder, Michael Eavis, did manage to instal some hope for regular festival-goers.

The festival founder suggested that a smaller capacity festival could potentially go ahead towards the end of the summer. Eavis’ suggestion of having a smaller capacity festival is a light at the end of the tunnel for many music fans. We anticipate that many other festivals will take the same approach as Eavis and his colleagues. Smaller capacity festivals with social distancing methods where possible will be the first festivals to run post-pandemic. We’ll likely see some of the world’s largest festivals downsizing. Even in a post-COVID society, it’s anticipated larger crowds of mixing people will be seen as a potential health and safety hazard and mentally triggering for those suffering from ​anxiety​ after an extended period away from large crowds.

Although this is disheartening for those accustomed to the liveliness and raucous atmosphere of large festivals, there are positives. Smaller festivals are usually less intimidating and nurture a unique sense of community. These are two things many people will be craving as we transition our lifestyles once again.

Saying Goodbye To Some Smaller Festivals

Unfortunately, whilst larger festivals will become smaller, many of our already small festivals will be unlikely to run. The economic hardships that have plagued the entertainment industry for the past year will have resulted in many small independent festivals being unable to maintain their businesses. It’s likely that in the following year and 2022, many of the smaller festivals will no longer be running. Hopefully, as the social and economic impacts of the pandemic alleviate, we’ll see some of them return.

Masks Becoming Part Of Festival Fashion

A slightly more niche development from the pandemic is that which concerns the infamous festival fashion. Festival fashion is a topic that crops up every year. Much of the popular clothing on the festival circuit is a reflection of the world around us.

For example, the Californian festival, Coachella, is famous for it’s more luxury festival looks. In comparison, UK festival-goers often pair the practical with the extravagant; a raincoat and wellies with a sparkly dress is a well-worn ensemble amongst UK festival-goers.

Rather than different festivals developing distinctive styles, we’re expecting festivals worldwide will all adopt this particular fashion accessory: the face covering. Many people are predicting that the face-covering will remain post-pandemic, at least for a little while. Whilst facemasks have been common in Asian countries for decades, now the rest of the world will likely also adopt the face masks as an act of politeness. ​We predict that festival fashion will showcase some of the most exciting and unique stylings of this trend; fun patterns, bright colours, and band merchandise will be amongst the masks worn at festivals. Face coverings will likely be a staple for many festival attendees for years to come.

Phased Return

As keen as we all are to attend our favourite festivals and see our favourite acts play live again, it’s likely large social events will undergo a phased return. We don’t expect to see all our favourite festivals return in full force all at once. Festivals will have to meet new demands with new health and safety procedures. Many festivals may be facing ​financial hardship ​or employment problems. ​The planning of an event of such magnitude requires an immense amount of work and organisation. With a recent pandemic, this intensity is only going to increase. It will take time for festival runners to adapt to new changes, and work out the logistics of planning an event in a post-COVID world. As a result of the money and expenditure large corporate festivals have, we expect these will be the first to return to the festival scene.

One thing we can count on is that festivals will be back. Despite the challenges they face, we have faith in our music industries. Music festivals will undoubtedly have to implement necessary post-COVID practises. The pandemic has had a profound impact on our personal lives as well as a broader socio-economic impact. As a result of this, we’re anticipating smaller events, phased returns and mask-wearing to be the most notable changes. Nevertheless, we will get to experience the electricity that is seeing music live. We’ll once again know the comradery exhibited between fellow festival-goers. Our patience and resilience in these uncertain times will make the moment we hear crowds sing all the more magical.

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