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The virtual festivals to tune into this summer

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Festival season is going to look very different this year with all large gatherings banned for the foreseeable future due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But that hasn’t stopped festival organisers from wanting to keep the party going and plenty have stepped up to offer virtual events instead.

So pull out the barbecue, sit back in your deckchairs and enjoy a taste of summer with these online music and arts extravaganzas.

Cambridge Rock Festival, Haggis Farm Polo Club, Barton, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36065330)
Cambridge Rock Festival, Haggis Farm Polo Club, Barton, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36065330)

Virtually The Cambridge Rock Festival 2020

Cambridge Rock festival is promising a virtual four day event with streamed sets from previous live performances.

The free line-up of more than 40 bands, using high definition footage from previous years at the festival, includes: Atomic Rooster, Larry Miller, Don Airey, Frank Carducci, Chris Bevington, Mostly Autumn, Son of Man with Deke Leonard, Heather Findlay and Ben Poole.

Spokesperson for the festival, Ian Stuart, said: “Sadly Coronavirus put paid to our original plans for this years Cambridge Rock Festival ,the 16th in total and our first at our new Peterborough venue. We will be at the Peterborough showground from June 17th - 20th 2021 but for now , in what we believe will be a UK if not world first , we present “Virtually the Cambridge Rock Festival 2020”!! ,to run on the dates the festival would have taken place, June 18th-21st .

4th Lab at the Cambridge Rock Festival (36059066)
4th Lab at the Cambridge Rock Festival (36059066)

“What we have done is put together a full Cambridge Rock festival line-up using all the high definition footage we have of CRF performances.”

The virtual festival will only feature previously-filmed live CRF material, and it will run throughout the times that the festival should have taken place: 5.30-11pm on Thursday and 11am to 11pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Ian added: “It’s a thank-you from us and the bands for your support, and something to lift the spirits.

“Put the dates back on your calendar, get your beers, get settled in and in front of a big screen, ready to be at vCRF20 in spirit if not in person! Much of the video will be just like you are there as it’s filmed from the audience – you may even see yourself in the crowd.

“All the bands and techies involved have given services for free - obviously from our point of view we hope to help the bands sell some merchandise and for us to maintain interest and sell more tickets next year when we will go live again."


The Big Weekend

Always one of the highlights of summer in Cambridge, this year’s Big Weekend festival is being replaced by a virtual event - the Big Weekend at Home 2020. Taking place Friday, July 3 and Saturday July 4, it will bring together local artists and shows from radio stations Star Radio, BBC Cambridgeshire and Cambridge 105 Radio.

A free event, the Big Weekend takes place every year on Parker’s Piece. Traditionally, it includes big-name performers plus local musicians, a French market, games, fireworks and other activities, with the final day dedicated to a Mela celebrating the city’s Asian community.

Big weekend 2019, Parker's Piece, BIG 10 , bringing the best of Bad Manners, The Specials , and Madness. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36059303)
Big weekend 2019, Parker's Piece, BIG 10 , bringing the best of Bad Manners, The Specials , and Madness. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36059303)

This year’s Big Weekend at Home 2020 will feature a livestream of performances by a selection of Cambridge artists, community groups, and more, premiering on the afternoon of Saturday July 4 and available free to stream thereafter.

Longtime media partners Star Radio, BBC Cambridgeshire and Cambridge 105 Radio will put their touch on the weekend’s activities with Big Weekend related shows. Star Radio will be first out of the gate on Friday 3 July, as they traditionally host the Main Stage each year.

Big Weekend, Parker's Piece (36059209)
Big Weekend, Parker's Piece (36059209)

‘Even though we can’t be there in person, we still wanted to do something to bring Cambridge together and to celebrate the talents found here in our community,’ said Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities.

‘I know that many people have, like myself, been missing the fun of live music,’ Cllr Smith continued, ‘and I hope the Big Weekend at Home will bring that to everyone missing the chance to gather on Parker’s Piece.’

Details of the event line-up will be announced in the weeks leading up to 3 and 4 July.

For more information and the latest updates, please visit cambridgelive.org.uk/city-events or follow facebook.com/cambridgeliveevents.

Big weekend 2019, Parker's Piece, BIG 10 , bringing the best of Bad Manners, The Specials , and Madness. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36059297)
Big weekend 2019, Parker's Piece, BIG 10 , bringing the best of Bad Manners, The Specials , and Madness. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36059297)

Virtual Download Festival

Get ready to rock out in your garden, living room or bedroom for one of the biggest virtual events of the summer.

You may not be able to head to Donnington this year but the organisers are promising a fantastic line up on YouTube including exclusive footage from the likes of KISS, Iron Maiden, System Of A Down and lots more.

The Download TV weekend will run from June 12-14 and will be split into day and evening programming, with tailor made shows featuring Iron Maiden, System of a Down and KISS leading the way. KISS will headline the Friday (June 12) festivities, with a replay of standout moments from their huge 2015 headline set. Iron Maiden head up the Saturday (June 13) programming with nostalgic performances, "Legacy of the Beast" snippets, as well as "something just for Download TV." And System of a Down get to close out the virtual festival on Sunday (June 14) with footage from their performances in 2005, 2011 and 2017.

The virtual Download will also include interactive content and activities, tutorials, artist Q&As, special live performances and mindfulness sessions. Just subscribe to the Download TV YouTube channel here.

Don Airey at the 2019 Cambridge Rock Festival (36065039)
Don Airey at the 2019 Cambridge Rock Festival (36065039)

Tomorrowland Around the World

The massive dance music festival Tomorrowland is heading online in July with a two-day virtual event.

It promises to be more than a standard music stream and instead offers visitors the chance to experience "a magical and newly created Tomorrowland location with a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet... and explore the entire festival site in an interactive way together with friends".

They plan to have eight different stages with 3D design, special effects, games and interactivity. This festival isn't free - tickets start at EURO 12.50 - but it will have big-name line-up of "the world’s best artists in dance and electronic music". The event takes place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July and more details and the full line-up are set to be announced over the coming weeks.


Defected Virtual Festival

This festival has already taken place but the DJ sets are still available on YouTube to enjoy with friends.

The first gig was recorded in March and was inspired by the success of live streams from Defected Croatia, Defected London FSTVL and other Defected shows worldwide. We have programmed 12 hours of house music to be streamed from clubbing institution Ministry of Sound in London, with DJs Simon Dunmore, Monki, Sam Divine, Low Steppa, The Shapeshifters, Melvo Baptiste, Joey Negro, Dan Shake, Darius Syrossian and more, playing live sets and the Glitterbox crew of dancers providing the dancefloor energy.

They said on their website: “Broadcasting around the world from the otherwise closed nightclub, the concept for Defected Virtual Festival came from a wish to bring together house music lovers under Defected’s mantra In Our House We Are All Equal; while unable to travel or tour, Defected’s team led by owner Simon Dunmore knew they needed to think outside the box.

“Music and clubbing are an escape for many and, with social gatherings being rightfully restricted, we wanted to connect people online in the hope that they appreciate they are not alone.”


Glyndebourne Open Festival

The Glyndebourne Open Festival will be offering free screenings of full lenght previous productions on YouTube every Sunday until June 14. This year's virtual opera festival includes Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, followed by Jonathan Kent’s Don Giovanni and Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

Festival-goers are being encouraged to get into the spirit of the event by dusting off their finery and ouring a glass of fizz while they are united online with opera lovers from across the globe. organisers say: "We can’t conjure the smell of the Glyndebourne roses or a view of the lake, but we can still create an experience to share."

Performances will be streamed via YouTube and at glyndebourne.com

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