THE Crawley Irish Festival is the latest event to be cancelled due to lingering restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now in its 25th year, and with some very special confirmed acts booked for the planned 2020 offering, it is hoped the whole show can be presented in August 2021 instead.
Organisers John and Noreen Nolan, confirmed its cancellation last week.
“On behalf of the Celtic and Irish Cultural Society, the organising committee of the Crawley Irish Festival we’d like to announce that this year’s festival has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” they said in a statement.
“We’ve been monitoring this unpresented situation carefully and were hopeful that by the end of August all would be okay to deliver the 25th annual event but it has now become clear this year’s festival cannot go ahead.”
They added: “We were expecting more positive news [on July 9] from Oliver Dowden the Culture Secretary…and although leisure facilities and beauty services in England will be allowed to reopen, mass participation events such as festivals are still banned.
“It is with a heavy heart we’ve made this decision but it’s the only safe option to take. “
In the past few years the large open space in front of Crawley's Hawth Theatre has been utilised as the main space and open-air stage for the annual event.
Dave Watmore, General Manager of the Hawth Theatre, said of the decision to cancel the popular event: “If Crawley Irish Festival went ahead this year, it would have to be with social distancing in place.
“This would require managing the event far more strictly than anyone could relate to.”
He added: “Sadly the Irish Festival would not be a shadow of the marvellous event we have all known and loved in the past. Postponing the event to 2021 will allow it to return at the scale we have all enjoyed in previous years.”
Irish Ambassador to Britain, Adrian O’Neill was among the many to share their disappointment at the news.
“While this is disappointing news, the organisers are to be commended for the responsibility they have shown in reaching this difficult decision,” he tweeted.
“I have no doubt that the Crawley Irish Festival will be back in 2021, bigger and better than ever. Keep the faith. Beir bua,” he added.