On Tuesday 12 May 2020, BCP Council confirmed that all public events taking place on council land had been cancelled. The decision affects all events that were due to take place before 31 August 2020, including the immensely popular Bournemouth Air Festival.
It’s a decision that hasn’t been easy. The air festival alone is responsible for over £32 million of income, according to BCP Council Leader Vikki Slade, but as the country struggles to balance an ever-increasing financial impact against the spread of the coronavirus, preventing large social gatherings is key. Commenting on the cancellations, Vikki Slade said:
“In response to the recent government guidance around the easing of lockdown, it will no longer be possible that events planned to take place this summer in public outdoor open space can go ahead.
“Cancelling major events and festivals is a decision we don’t take lightly. The most important consideration is the health of our residents, and the safety of everyone involved including visitors, festival goers, exhibitors, traders, staff, contractors, and the many more who contribute and play a part in delivering those much-loved events.
“Our NHS and emergency services have coped incredibly well during the Covid-19 pandemic and we would not want to risk this changing, or to try to manage events whilst adhering to government measures and advice including on social distancing.
“The government’s guidance indicated that hospitality businesses are not likely to open before July. We know there are many hotels, restaurants, bars and local contractors serving this industry whose livelihoods rely on the summer events programme and we want to assure those businesses – including the 17,000 plus people employed in this sector – that BCP Council will do everything we can to support you and work together with you to come through this.”
Hope for the future
The cancellations will be a disappointment for many people and businesses across the country, yet they bring with them a small ray of hope; Vikki Slade has confirmed that the council is already planning a ‘refreshed’ air festival next year, and fewer tourists to the area should make social distancing an easier prospect as residents in the BCP area make the most of the newly-granted ability to visit our many beaches.
Holiday-makers from all over the world arrive in their millions each year to bury their feet in our miles of glorious sandy beaches – Bournemouth beach was ranked 6th in Europe and 20th in the world by TripAdvisor in 2019 – but their absence in no way prevents BCP residents from enjoying what our area can offer. And if coronavirus-related deaths continue to drop, local tourism may even reopen in time to see some benefit from our own leisure time before the end of the summer.
For now, you can see the full list of cancelled events on the BCP website.