Plug pulled on Doune The Rabbit Hole music festival over social distancing uncertainty

The plug has been pulled on one of Scotland's biggest music festivals less than a month before it was due to be held – due to a lack of certainty over whether physical distancing restrictions would be lifted in time.

Doune The Rabbit Hole was due to go ahead from 12-15 August.

Doune The Rabbit Hole has become the latest major festival to fall victim to delays in the lifting of restrictions on outdoor events in Scotland

It was expected to attract up to 10,000 fans a day to the Cardross Estate, in Stirlingshire, but was being planned to go ahead without any physical distancing.

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Dizzee Rascal, Sleaford Mods, Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub, Eddi Reader, the Buzzcocks and Charlotte Church had all been due to appear at the 11th festival, one of Scotland’s few major outdoor events still due to go ahead in the face of the pandemic.

However organisers said they had been told by Stirling Council that they would have to wait until just three days before the festival was due to start to find out if they were granted a licence.

New public health guidance over the staging of full-capacity events is not expected to be published until after a decision is taken to lift restrictions.

The Scottish Government had set a provisional date of 19 July for the lifting of distancing restrictions outdoors. However when the final “Level Zero” proposals were announced, some limits were kept in place. The next review is not due until 3 August.

Events called off in recent days include Doonhame, in Dumfries and Galloway, Party in the Palace in Linlithgow, and The Return of the Slam Tent and Terminal V, both in Edinburgh.

Sister Sledge performed at Doune The Rabbit Hole in 2019.

An official announcement from Doune The Rabbit Hole said: “We’re heartbroken to announce the postponement of Doune The Rabbit Hole 2021 due to continued uncertainty over the regulations for events that will be in place in Scotland by 12 August.

"We realise that this will be enormously disappointing to a great many people, principally our audience, but also the musicians and artists, traders, volunteers, the hundreds of people who we employ at the festival itself, and the businesses and residents local to the festival who will be missing out for yet another year.

"The decision has been taken after every possible effort to put the festival on. This included a meeting on 20 July with Kate Forbes MSP, Scotland's finance secretary, who has been most helpful. Since then, her officials from the Scottish Government’s Major events team, have been working with us and Stirling Council to try to save this year's festival.

"However, while we firmly believe we could hold the festival safely, the areas of uncertainty over this summer's public health regulation in Scotland remain too great.

“Our festival is licensed by Stirling Council, who have taken the view that they cannot grant the licence until they know what Covid regulations are in place from 9 August.”

The statement said the festival faced the prospect of having to meet “impossible” conditions just days before the event was due to start.

It added: “There is therefore no practical alternative but to cancel now, rather than potentially have to cancel on 9 August after we would have physically built the entire festival and you would be almost packed and ready to pitch your tents.”

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