Recovery roadmap paves the way for Stendhal return

Following the publication of Northern Ireland’s roadmap to recovery, organisers of Limavady based Stendhal Festival say there are more confident than ever before that the award winning music and arts festival can return in some form this July and August.

The team at Stendhal have released tickets for two events scheduled for this summer, the first on July 9th and 10th and the second on August 12th – 14th and are hoping to welcome up to a combined 6000 visitors across both dates.

While noting that although the roadmap does not contain dates, Festival Director Ross Parkhill believes that there is enough information there to read between the lines and be confident that a return for live music and events is on the cards this summer.

“Dates would be great,” said Ross, “but we understand the rationale behind not giving them out. It is important that people remain vigilant and play their part in helping to continue to curb the spread of Covid 19.”

“That said, I think there is enough evidence to suggest that if the vaccination programme continues to be as successful as it is proving to be and that if the majority of the population can get at least one jab by mid-summer as is the current projections, then the risk – reward balance that has been so delicate in relation to opening up events and other jobs and endeavours not deemed essential, tips greatly in the favour of reward over risk. So we are working hard now to produce what could be our most memorable events to date.”

He continued: “The vaccination progress plus the roadmap in England, which has prompted far larger events than ours to press ahead, would suggest that we won’t be far away from a great reduction in restrictions in good time for our July event.”

Ross added that he doesn’t think that there can be an instant return to normal for the events industry and that if events are back on the table this summer, it is prudent for all concerned that gatherings focus on rebuilding confidence, with safety measures still very much in mind, as well as offering additional space for patrons to enjoy.

“Obviously Covid won’t have gone away completely by the summer,” he said, “ and despite what the regulations are at the time, event organisers will still have to move forward somewhat tentatively so that we can maybe get things back to normal in 2022. I can’t see it being business as usual for any events this year.

“For example this year we are running two events at a much lower capacity than what we would normally run.

“This is so that we can allow people much more space and hopefully give people the confidence to get back around larger crowds, meanwhile allowing us to marshal the event with Covid safety still very much in mind.”

Ross continued: “Obviously we won’t know what restrictions, if any, will remain until closer to the time, so we are currently working on many scenarios and the idea that social distancing will still be in place come July and August in some form.

“There are still plenty of unknowns going forward but we are now firmly planning to put on socially different and possibly our most socially important gatherings to date. It will be the first time in a long time for many in the industry to get back to work at a festival setting and it will be one of the first opportunities for the public to enjoy live music as it should be, live, outdoors and in person. What a fantastic prospect for us all.”

Ross concluded: “We will be releasing the line-ups very soon and we can’t stress this enough, tickets to both events will be incredibly limited this year as we will be operating at between fifty and sixty percent of our normal capacity. We anticipate that the tickets will sell out far quicker than ever before.

“We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to the farm. It’s been a long time coming.”