OFFICIALS have spoken about how the cancellation of Reading Festival will be 'a huge loss' to local economy, but support the decision made in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, organisers said yesterday: “Reading will no longer be taking place this year.

“We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation and we were hopeful we could deliver the ultimate festival to you in August, something to look forward to in these strange and confusing times.

“However, it has become clear that it’s just not possible for this year’s festival to go ahead."


Councillor Karen Roland, lead member for culture, said: "The festival cancellation will have an incredible impact on the economy and activities to the town, seeing a loss of about £31 million, which the festival brings in annually into Reading.

"The decision was not made by the council but was heeded under good advice for the situation we are in.

"It is sad, but I’m sure it will be back next year for the 50th anniversary.

"We have a lot of anniversaries next year, with the 900th year of Reading Abbey as well, so there will be a lot of cultural celebration.

"The right decision has been made, despite the loss to the economy.

"Culturally, Reading has been very good with turning digital – Reading Culture Live will launch at the end of May as a place for artists and comedians of the town - it will be all about the cultural scene in Reading.

"Also, Reading Fringe will be digital this year, so despite this loss, there are still things for people to look forward to - Reading Festival just won't be one of them.

"Hopefully we can make some of that money back as people have ‘staycations’ later in the year - putting money back into cultural activity."

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Sarah Irving, head of marketing and communications at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: “Reading Festival is a fantastic event which brings with it a huge boost for local businesses and the town’s economy, attracting over 100,000 revellers each year, and growing.

"Whilst it is completely understandable that the organisers have taken Government guidelines very seriously, and large gatherings are not currently permitted to prevent the spread of the virus, we share the disappointment of everyone that was planning on attending.”