“It’s sent a very bad signal,” Olivier Garnier, a spokesman for Hellfest, one of France’s largest events, said in a telephone interview. Hellfest hosts about 60,000 heavy metal fans each year and its 2021 iteration, scheduled for June, is already sold out.
On Monday, Hellfest sent a three-page letter to Roselyne Bachelot, France’s culture minister, asking for certainty on whether the event can occur, and suggesting that the festival could test attendees for the virus upon arrival.
On Tuesday, Bachelot dismissed the idea that testing would be enough to allow festivals to occur. “It’s fanciful!’,” she told a French parliamentary committee, adding that festivals were an obvious potential site of transmission with people singing, drinking and dancing together.
The picture is not entirely downbeat across the continent. In Denmark, festivals are preparing to go ahead, said Esben Marcher of Dansk Live, a body that represents festival organizers, in a telephone interview.
“Of course Glastonbury’s news is a big signal to the rest of Europe,” he said, “but my sense is that building its site is a much larger and longer process than for others.” Glastonbury takes months to prepare its fields to stage the event, Marcher said. Danish events could be set up in a few weeks.
In December, Roskilde, Denmark’s biggest festival scheduled for June, announced rapper Kendrick Lamar as a headliner. Signe Lopdrup, Roskilde’s chief executive, said in an email that she was “cautiously optimistic” about it going ahead.