General News / May 14, 2021

What the Ireland-UK travel bubble could mean for live music

General News / May 14, 2021

What the Ireland-UK travel bubble could mean for live music

With talks set to go ahead about free movement between the UK and Ireland, we’ve examined what options there are for live music in the coming months for Irish residents.

According to The Irish Times, the Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin is set to present a report by the Recovery Oversight Group for Tourism recommending the removal of restrictions on UK visitors. This in turn, would allow Irish residents to move to and from the UK freely.

The news comes in response to the relaxation of restrictions in the UK that mean from May 17 people will be allowed to move freely between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK. Due to the open border between the north and south, this effectively means that people could travel north to go to the UK anyway.

What it means for live music

The move would operate separately to the EU’s traffic light system and given the healthier position of the UK’s vaccination programme it suggests that visitors from Ireland could attend concerts and festivals if they go ahead in England.

According to Step 4 of Boris Johnston’s road map out of COVID-19, (Epidemiological conditions permitting) the government intends to remove all legal limits on social contact no earlier than June 21.

This means that potentially, from June 21 nightclubs, concerts, festivals and just about any sweaty, overcrowded event you can think of will be back on the cards. Given that travel may be permitted to the UK from this point, Irish residents could in theory attend large scale events outside of Ireland.

UK festivals available

Some festival options for people itching for live music include:

  • If you want to play it safe, slowthai’s Happyland takes place September 25 in Northampton and features Greentea Peng, slowthai, Idles, Pa Salieu and more.
  • ALT+LDN, August 30 – featuring Playboi Carti, Princess Nokia and more.
  • All Points East, 27-30 August featuring Jamie XX, Kano, Little Simz, Jorja Smith and more.

More available on Ticketmaster’s website.

Northern Ireland

In a statement to BBC News NI, the Irish Department of Health confirmed the resumption of intercounty travel includes cross-border travel.

This means, if a flight isn’t an option for you then a short bus journey across the border could be a more accessible alternative.

From the 24 May (Epidemiological conditions permitting), Northern Ireland will welcome back indoor hospitality, including bars.

While there is no set date for the reopening of nightclubs and the resuming of festivals in Northern Ireland, Theatre and concert halls have been given an indicative date of 21 June to reopen. Currently, it is not clear if it will also apply to live music venues, however, there is hope that case numbers continue to fall Stormont will follow the lead of the UK government in relaxing restrictions further.

Given the current situation, there is growing confidence that Belfast’s premiere festival AVA will take place September 24-25 at Boucher Road playing fields. Given it is an outdoor event and the success of recent test events in Liverpool and at the BRIT Awards this week there is confidence in the community this could go ahead.

Grab tickets to AVA here.

Republic of Ireland

These developments come as Longitude festival in Marley Park was cancelled this week. Conversely, given the recent test events in England, organisers of Electric Picnic argued the festival due to take place in September should be able to go ahead.

Meanwhile, Sunil Sharpe of Give Us The Night welcomed the government’s intentions for test large scale events in July this summer but asked the government for a road map for clubs reopening in Ireland. His words can be found in an Instagram post below:

With no roadmap in sight for live events and the return of clubs in Ireland, the government still has a lot to answer for.

Elsewhere on District: Extraterrestrial: Exploring alienation and identity in Ireland.