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From Michael Bublé to Black Deer Festival, these are the events that could go ahead in Kent this summer

Events organisers finally have a reason to pop the cork, following yesterday's revelation that we could be enjoying large outdoor events once again this summer.

Yesterday Boris Johnson revealed his "irreversible" 'roadmap' out of lockdown for the country, bringing us out of an age of Covid-19 and back to enjoying the parts of our lives which almost feel like a distant memory.


The Prime Minister set out four steps including the reopening of pubs and restaurants and meeting with family members indoors - situations that were impossible as coronavirus tightened its grip on Kent's communities.

But his final step is arguably the most significant of all - the return of large-scale events.

The 'roadmap' has highlighted the cautiously optimistic date of June 21 for music concerts, nightclubs and other events to restart, sending a wave of relief - and surprise - across an industry that has been on its knees for almost 12 months.

But which events could now go ahead this summer - and what does it mean for those that have already been cancelled?

Black Deer Festival (June 18-20)

Black Deer Festival in 2018. Picture: Louise Roberts
Black Deer Festival in 2018. Picture: Louise Roberts

Scheduled for June 18-20, Black Deer Festival's co-founders were adamant about being able to open the gates to the public when they spoke to KentOnline last month.

In the wake of Glastonbury deciding to put its mammoth 2021 festival on ice, Gill Tee and Deborah Shilling said they were pushing ‘full-steam ahead’ to keep Kent's Americana and country music festival open to 20,000 ticket holders.

But the Prime Minister's June 21 target for large events is - frustratingly for the organisers and attendees alike - the day after the festival is due to end.

So will the festival, based at Eridge Park, near Tunbridge Wells, be cancelled or moved?

With huge names like Wilco, Van Morrison and Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant booked for the June weekend, it might not be as easy as simply rescheduling.

Robert Plant is on the line up for this year's Black Deer Festival
Robert Plant is on the line up for this year's Black Deer Festival

Most musicians who play summer festivals do so as part of a festival circuit tour, which could see them play everywhere from the US to Europe and Asia across the summer months.

With alternative rock group Wilco booked to play gigs in Spain and a coast-to-coast tour of America in addition to Black Deer, it may not be possible for them to make a weekend change with this little notice.

But of course this past year has been unprecedented, and the inability to play live for a year may push touring musicians to try and adapt to the changing situation so they can play as many gigs as possible.

Black Deer's organisers were approached by KentOnline but were not currently in a position to comment on their plans for the festival in June.

Rochester Castle Concerts (July 8-10)

Rochester Castle Concerts. Picture: Steve Crispe
Rochester Castle Concerts. Picture: Steve Crispe

Last year’s Rochester Castle Concerts were rescheduled after it was clear live music events in 2020 could not go ahead under social distancing guidelines.

But despite some confusion over a possible cancellation last month, the event featuring performances from The Jacksons, UB40 and The Libertines is still due to go ahead.

And the dates of July 8-10 would give organisers AGMP two week's grace after the PM's final lockdown-easing step.

A spokesperson from the company said: "AGMP are absolutely delighted (and more than a little surprised) by the roadmap laid out yesterday and can't wait to be back doing what we do best; organising live music events.

"From our audience feedback, people literally can't wait to experience live music again and we can't wait to stage it for them as soon as we are able to do so, safely and in full compliance with the regulations at the time."

UB40 playing Rochester Castle Concerts in 2018. Picture: Steve Crispe
UB40 playing Rochester Castle Concerts in 2018. Picture: Steve Crispe

AGMP's optimism is also laced with more than a hint of wariness, though: "We just hope that the timeline laid out yesterday will all happen as planned, but as of today we are cautiously optimistic."

Boris Johnson made clear in his Commons address that the steps laid out in his roadmap are subject to change, and could shift in the event of a new variant or infection rates increasing as a result of other lockdown-easing steps.

Leeds Castle Concert (July 10)

Last year was the first time in 42 years that the beloved Leeds Castle Concert did not go ahead.

The open-air gig often attracts up to 10,000 people for picnicking, promenading, fireworks and a Spitfire flypast.

The Leeds Castle Concert attracts thousands each summer
The Leeds Castle Concert attracts thousands each summer

And following yesterday's announcement, organisers Heritage Events hope to bring the popular event back to life this summer.

This year will feature performances from the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Down for the Count Swing Orchestra.

A spokesperson from the company said: "We are continuing to make plans for the Leeds Castle Concert to go ahead on the July 10, 2021. We will of course adhere to all government guidance and put in place measures as appropriate to bring a safe event for everyone to enjoy as we have always done.

"Rest assured we are doing everything possible to bring you the best summer concert. With the positive news from Boris and as the vaccine programme continues to be rolled out, we look forward to celebrating with you in July."

But the easing dates are still provisional and the government has said some measures could be brought back in if cases begin to rise again.

Leeds Castle Concert in 2019
Leeds Castle Concert in 2019

So, with thousands of people potentially descending on the same field, could we end up in a position where gig-goers are told to wear face masks for extra protection?

It's certainly a strange thing to imagine - face sweating in the balmy afternoon sun, occasionally pulling your mask down for a swig of warm beer.

The same could be said for Michael Bublé's highly anticipated appearance at Kent Cricket Club's Spitfire Ground St Lawrence in Canterbury on July 10.

The open-air concert hopes to attract a crowd of around 20,000, as part of the Canadian crooner's 13-date UK tour.

According to the lockdown roadmap the event will be able to go ahead as planned and it won't just be ticketholders hoping this is the case.

Superstar Michael Buble is due to play Canterbury in July
Superstar Michael Buble is due to play Canterbury in July

The club lost £2 million in revenue last summer, with the cancellation of cricket, conferences and money-spinning concerts, including Little Mix.

Tickets are still available for purchase online, but the site includes the following advisory: "Please note that there may be additional measures in place to ensure the safety of staff and guests in relation to Covid-19 which may vary according to health and safety and government advice at the time of the event."

Salute to the 40s (September 18-19)

Fans of one of Chatham Historic Dockyard's biggest event of the year may be reassured, but managers were disappointed that the roadmap would mean still several months of enforced closure ahead.

Richard Morsley, chief executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “Whilst we welcome the Government’s roadmap on the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, we remain disappointed that it doesn’t allow The Historic Dockyard Chatham to reopen before 17 May, by which point we will have been closed to visitors for almost seven months. We, along with the rest of the industry, have invested heavily in COVID-safe practices and have been nationally recognised as a leading attraction in providing both a safe and outstanding visitor experience.

"The new milestone dates do provide some clarity for when we will be able to safely welcome back visitors to engage with our unique site and collections. Our annual Salute to the ‘40s event remains factored into our calendar for 2021 and we will continue to monitor the government guidance around major events over the coming months.“

Can we pucker up at this year's dockyard Salute to the 1940's weekend? Picture: Phil Lee
Can we pucker up at this year's dockyard Salute to the 1940's weekend? Picture: Phil Lee

Ramblin' Man Fair (July 16-18)

There was a cautious welcome from organisers of the music festival, due to be held at Mote Park in Maidstone this summer, which will include Europe on its rock and folk music line-up.

They said in a statement: “We are closely monitoring the situation and will follow the government and local council guidance.”

Faversham Transport Festival (cancelled)

While some organisers have been impatiently waiting for the green light that came yesterday, others had already made the decision to move their events to the following year.

Though originally planned for July, the organisers of Faversham Transport Festival made the decision to push the event back to 2022 at the end of January.

The Faversham Transport Festival will not go ahead this year
The Faversham Transport Festival will not go ahead this year

But with the positive news ringing fresh in their ears, could it be rearranged in time for June's return to normality?

Not according to Claire Windridge, visitor and events development officer for Faversham Town Council.

Claire said: "On balance, the right decision was made - the transport festival takes an awful lot of organising and it's something we start to look at in the preceding year.

"We just don't have the time now to suddenly think 'oh OK let's perhaps try and run with it'."

The council is now looking ahead to next year to organise the transport festival as well as plenty of other events for people to enjoy.

"The transport festival takes an awful lot of organising..."

Claire added: "We're taking the view that 2022 is the comeback year when we can do a lot more and hopefully this Covid business will be a distant nightmarish memory."

The Faversham Transport Festival now has the provisional date of May 14-15, 2022.

Forest Live, Bedgebury Pinetum (cancelled)

Forestry England's annual live music series across the country was axed - like every other live event - in 2020 due to Covid-19.

But although the organisation has now slated a number of gigs across the UK with the likes of Jess Glyne, Keane and Madness, the Bedgebury event will not be going ahead in 2021 once again.

The Stereophonics playing High Lodge for Forestry England's Forest Live concert series
The Stereophonics playing High Lodge for Forestry England's Forest Live concert series

A spokesperson today confirmed to KentOnline that there would not be a reschedule in light of the Prime Minister's roadmap.

With four months remaining before the summer events season begins, it is possible there is simply not enough time to re-organise large-scale concerts of this nature.

From food vendors to stage management and artist scheduling conflicts, there are numerous hurdles for organisers to clear before they can lock an event in.

Kent County Show (July 9-11)

Arguably the most popular event in the county and a time-honoured tradition, the Kent County Show has been going for nearly a century.

Kent County Show. Picture: Thomas Alexander
Kent County Show. Picture: Thomas Alexander

Established in 1923 by the Kent County Agricultural Society, the event showcases everything from cutting-edge farming and competitions to family-friendly displays.

After 2020's event was cancelled, regular attendees now hope to return to the Kent Showground in Detling in July.

But with 135 days to go before the weekend-long show, tickets are not yet on sale and organisers have not confirmed whether it will be going ahead.

A visit to its website confirms the dates of July 9-11, but no further information on what guests can expect from the return of the historic event.

As one of the flagship county experiences, the organisers will surely hope to be able to make an announcement soon - especially with the dates falling the right side of the PM's lockdown 'roadmap'.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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