Organisers of the award winning HebCelt music festival are gearing up to deliver a ‘hybrid’ event for music lovers after plans for its 25th birthday celebrations were put on ice for a second time.
A near sold out event was hoping to showcase the talents of artists including Julie Fowlis, Colin Macleod and Texas before it was postponed first last summer, now again this coming July.
But the combination of the Coronavirus global pandemic hitting travel, logistics and safety saw event chiefs decide now they simply cannot afford to risk the local community or supporters bu pressing ahead with a full scale festival.
It will come as a blow to the local economy and for fun starved fans. Ticket refunds will be offered by the festival.
On social media, fans overwhelmingly back the decision with some asking to roll over their tickets for another year of donate the fees to support the festival itself.
One said: “Will there be an option to roll over again for next year. Accept prices will need to increase but we could then just pay the difference. I know it’s a small thing in this weird world but it would be something to look forward to knowing it’s paid for.”
Another added: “So disappointed we’re still in this position. I’d happily ‘roll my ticket over’ for 2022 and pay any extra required. Stay safe x.”
One woman said: “So sad, but the right decision! Stay save on the Islands and anywhere else! We will see you 2022 for celebrating a great Festival.”
While one summed up the feelings of many, stating: “We’re with you in whatever form you take! .”
In a statement, Heb Celt said: “It is with deep regret that due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic we have been forced to make the decision to cancel the rolled over HebCelt from 2020.
“The HebCelt team continues to work hard to plan for an event in 2021. The ideal situation would be a return to the kind of music and live performances that we have all come to enjoy.
“However, as everyone will likely know, Covid-19 and its restrictions continue to pose unique challenges which we have been working to mitigate.
“While vaccinations may bring some return to normality at some point this year, that is looking increasingly like it will not happen in time for us to safely put in place the kind of HebCelt we recognise.
“We are therefore planning for a hybrid event this year and are considering how that can be realised, including exploring a mixture of live performance and the creation of unique digital content.”
“HebCelt is a vital part of the local economy and has showcased many of the best attributes of our culture and what the Outer Hebrides has to offer. This is why it will be important to find at least a ‘bridging’ solution that ensures an event of some kind takes place in 2021, with hopes to return fully in 2022.”
They added: “Many of our supporters who had purchased festival passes for 2020 have allowed those to ‘roll-over’ for use in 2021. We are hugely grateful for their backing.
“However, as we are unable to provide the event that those who bought tickets would expect, we can confirm your money remains safe and we are offering all those who still hold a rolled-over ticket a full refund.
“We ask for your patience while we work through this process. Ticket holders can expect to be contacted by email in the very near future.
“We are truly sorry to be sharing this news with you all and the utter disappointment is shared by all of us here on the team. We thank everyone for their understanding, love and support of the festival.
“However, we would like to assure you that we are currently working towards a plan for 2021, a key consideration of which is the safety and protection of HebCelt and our local community.
“We look forward to being able to share news and updates with you soon.”