Bents Park gigs cancelled as South Tyneside Festival called off again due to covid
Music fans will be bereft of Bents Park gigs again this summer after council chiefs confirmed the South Tyneside Festival will be called off due to the pandemic.
The much-loved Bents Park gigs have been a highlight of South Shields’ events calendar for decades, and attracted huge names over the years, pulling in crowds to the seafront.
The popular South Tyneside Festival also usually includes other major cultural highlights including the Summer Parade, involving thousands of people in the community, Proms in the Park, the Kids Fun-fest, brass bands and live music at The Amphitheatre.
But South Tyneside Council chiefs have now confirmed that the three-month festival of family-friendly entertainment, due to take place at South Shields seafront over June, July and August, and is being deferred until 2022.
Tom Hall, South Tyneside’s Director of Public Health, said: “We know this will be a huge disappointment to all those involved.
"But we also know our supporters will understand that the safety of all our festival goers, artists, participants and staff are of paramount importance.
"We must continue to do all we can to protect people and support our communities to recover from coronavirus.”
Mr Hall said potential mitigation measures, such as crowd control, test and trace and monitoring visitor numbers would have major implications on the council’s ability to stage the events in the way in which people have come to “know and love while meeting expectations on standard and quality”.
“We know how popular the festival is among residents and visitors,” he said.
"However, we have been closely monitoring the situation with coronavirus and, after very careful consideration, we are sad to say that the festival has been postponed, as is the case with many major events across the UK.
“While we would have loved to go ahead this year, there is simply too much uncertainty at this time over when social distancing restrictions will be lifted and the Covid mitigation measures the Government may require in Step 4 in the roadmap out of lockdown, which is anticipated no earlier than June 21.”
He added: “We must also take into consideration the timescales we have to work with and the staggering amount of organisation and planning that goes on with our partners to stage such large-scale events.
“As our events are open access for all, it would be very difficult to deliver them in a covid-secure way, not to mention the risk of attracting thousands more people to an already busy seafront over the summer.”
Musicians including Ella Henderson, Will Young, The South, Shalamar and The Fizz were due to perform in this year’s four open-access Sunday Concerts, which attract crowds of up 20,000 spectators in Bents Park each week.
David Brooks, the council’s corporate lead for culture and leisure, said the authority is working ‘tirelessly’ with agents, artists and ticket agencies behind the scenes to reschedule as much as possible for 2022.
“While we had hoped we could go ahead safely this year, we are very much looking forward to welcoming music lovers back to the borough for a fabulous summer of entertainment in 2022,” he said.
"We will be working to make next year one to remember after what has been a difficult period for everyone.”
Mr Brooks said wherever possible, the same artists will be rebooked for next year and, in this case, already purchased tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled dates.
He said for those who would prefer a refund, further information on how to do this will be made available in due course, once the rescheduled line up has been announced.
He added: “We would kindly ask people to bear with us as we make these arrangements and thank everyone for their support, patience and understanding during these unprecedented times."
The council’s events team is also developing an alternative programme of family-friendly events and activities to take place later in the summer at locations across the borough.
Mr Brooks said this will be determined in line with Government guidance expected following the outcome of its Events Research Programme.