'Disappointment' as Bury St Edmunds Nearly Festival postponed

Nearly Festival is a popular family event in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. This picture was taken at the 2018 gig.

Nearly Festival is a popular family event in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. This picture was taken at the 2018 gig. - Credit: Andy Abbott

Festival organisers have cancelled their July event in Bury St Edmunds - and instead plan to host a non-socially-distanced "freedom event" in August.

Nearly Festival, which is also behind festivals of the same name in Ipswich, Colchester, Oulton Broad and Norwich, had planned to hold its Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens gig on July 3 and 4.

But after considering the government's extension to social contact rules - pushing 'freedom day' back by four weeks - organisers have decided not to attempt a socially-distanced event but to postpone it until August, with a date to be confirmed.

Nearly Festival in Bury St Edmunds is now planned to take place over a weekend in August.

Nearly Festival in Bury St Edmunds is now planned to take place over a weekend in August. - Credit: Andy Abbott

The Nearly Festival team said in a statement: "We had enough upset last time in changing the site plan and we feel that your experience would not be at the level you have come to expect with too many conditions and we would like you to dance, sing and move round the event freely without restrictions."

It added: "Instead we propose a freedom event, with no restrictions or conditions when we can finally welcome singing, dancing and moving freely at your will."


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They said they would still under sell the event to ensure festival-goers had space and would still have basic social-distancing measures in place and hand sanitising stations so everyone feels comfortable.

Danny Banthorpe, of Nearly Festival and Pop Up Pictures, with his son Blake.  

Danny Banthorpe, of Nearly Festival and Pop Up Pictures, with his son Blake. - Credit: Supplied

Danny Banthorpe, who does promotion and logistics for Nearly Festival, said postponing the gig was "disappointing, but we are used to it now".

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"We missed out last time, which was a shame. We were excited to get going again. We kept the dates with June 21 in mind, but we didn't expect that [the extension] to happen to be honest."

The family tribute weekend in the Abbey Gardens had Queen, Ed Sheeran, Oasis, Britney, Take That and more billed, but Mr Banthorpe said the August event would "no way" have the same line-up.

There is now a scramble to book bands for new dates, as other events organisers are all in the same boat.

Danny Banthorpe said it had been "such a tough year" for the events industry.

Danny Banthorpe said it had been "such a tough year" for the events industry. - Credit: Archant

"We have had such a tough year in the events industry anyway and now this has happened and then it all gets very competitive," said Mr Banthorpe, who is originally from Ipswich. "Everyone will be doing events and there will be more events on so we will have to fight for the crowd."

He said July tickets would automatically be moved to the new date, or people could get a refund or could choose to go to next year's event instead.

The team are also behind Pop-Up Pictures, which is due to bring an open-air film festival to Bury St Edmunds in August.

The Bury St Edmunds Nearly Festival didn't take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a one-day socially-distanced garden party did at the rugby club.

The separate Bury St Edmunds Featival, organised by West Suffolk Council, was cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

The May-time cultural festival brought live music, art and more to the town.


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