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Organisers 'heartbroken' at having to cancel Houghton Festival

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Houghton Festival organisers say they are "utterly heartbroken" at having to cancel this year's event.

The decision - blamed on increasing numbers of people being advised to self-isolate due to Covid-19 - comes just over three weeks before the four-day festival was due to begin on Thursday, August 15.

Organisers say the uncertainty over the coming weeks left them with no choice but to stop preparations and "abandon hope".

Houghton Festival attracts thousands of guests (49427291)
Houghton Festival attracts thousands of guests (49427291)

They added: "With political and scientific uncertainty in its current incarnation we risk losing everything if we proceed."

A statement, released on Monday, said: "The track and trace system, supposedly set up to protect us, presents an extraordinary challenge to our workforce.

"It has the ability to reduce or remove a substantial amount of the workforce at any point with a simple ping.

"This is set to finish on August 16th, the day after the festival ends. Without the correct number of skilled humans it is simply impossible to deliver the show safely and in full flourish."

Organisers say they "waited patiently for a clear horizon" but official guidance instead only led to a "blurred way forward", delivering another blow to an industry which has suffered badly since early 2020.

It's the third year running that the music and art festival at Houghton Hall near Lynn has had to be put off. In 2019 it was pulled at a late stage due to extreme weather conditions forecast and last year's event did not go ahead due to the pandemic.

This year's festival was due to have featured The Higher Intelligence Agency, Sonja Moonear and Francesco Del Garda.

The statement said: "It comes with a dark irony that we present the news on what is said to be Freedom Day.

"We have done everything humanly possible to make the party happen but the odds, as they currently stand, are stacked against us.

"We are utterly heartbroken that this journey has come to an end but in order to protect the future of the festival we have no choice but to stop here."

The dates for next year's festival are August 11 to August 14.

Ticketholders are being asked to consider rolling over their tickets until next year but refund requests are available until Monday, August 2.

Anyone who doesn't request by that date will automatically have their tickets rolled over to next year.

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