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Bad weather causes problems at music festivals

By | Published on Monday 25 June 2012

Isle Of Wight Festival

In what would have been Glastonbury weekend, had this not been the uber-fest’s traditional year off, harsh weather conditions have caused havoc to open-air music events across the UK over the last two days. Had it been on, this would have been a very muddy Glastonbury indeed.

Filling the gap in the mud calendar was the Isle Of Wight Festival, which went ahead despite heavy rainfall, but struggled to cope when fields being used for car parking turned into a swamp. Most of the problems occurred as thousands arrived at the festival site, with queues of cars backing up onto the roads, and causing traffic chaos for both festival-goers and locals.

Many ticketholders, some of whom spent their first night at the festival in their cars on roads approaching the festival site, complained about poor communications, adding that the event’s website and social media focused almost exclusively on the great performances on site that they were missing.

Some locals came to stranded festival-goers’ aid, offering their drives as parking spaces and even their gardens as temporary camp sites, though others hit out at IOW Festival organisers for not having better contingency plans in place. The island’s MP, Stuart Love, was among the critics, arguing that the bad weather hadn’t come as a surprise, and that he had expected better planning from festival bosses. He called for a review of the way the event is organised, and the way it is licensed. Events on the Isle Of Wight are already subject to separate licensing legislation, in the form of the Isle Of Wight Act, introduced after the 1970 edition of the original incarnation of the IOW music fest.

However, the modern IOW Festival enjoys very good relations with local authorities on the island, and organisers and council officials were seemingly working closely together this weekend to deal with the chaos, with special measures being but in place to ensure festival-goers could depart the site and island more smoothly at the end of the event. A squad of 100 4x4s will be on hand to held shift stuck cars this morning, and public transport will be stepped up.

So organisers and councillors hope to avoid a second round of chaos, and may well be successful, helped in part by better weather conditions, and the fact a higher than normal number of festival-goers departed the site yesterday, keen to avoid the rush, even if it did mean missing out on Bruce Springsteen’s headline spot.

Apologising to those festival-goers who were caught up with last week’s chaos on arrival, IOW Festival boss John Giddings told ticket-buyers: “I am really sorry to everyone who had problems as they arrived at the festival but I hope that I have made up for it by providing one of the best weekends of music ever. We knew it was going to happen, we were prepared, we knew there would be adverse weather conditions, it was just slow and we caused a great traffic jam and I am sorry to all those who got stuck in it”.

The Isle Of Wight event wasn’t the only one hit by the bad weather this weekend. The second day of festivities at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, due to be headlined by Paul Weller, had to be cancelled over health and safety concerns, while in Liverpool the Africa Oyé event was called off, though a smaller indoor event featuring many of the festival’s line-up was staged.