Celebration of Northumbrian traditions postponed for first time in over 50 years due to coronavirus

For the first time in over half a century, the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering has been postponed.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 5:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 2:44 pm

Event organisers have taken the decision to call off the event, scheduled for April, due to the escalating coronavirus crisis.

The entire programme of Northumbrian music, craft and heritage events will be rearranged for 2021 to safeguard the public and avoid financial difficulties.

Kim Bibby-Wilson, chairman of the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering Committee, said: “This is the first time since the Gathering began in 1968 that it has had to miss a year, despite earlier crises such as foot and mouth, venue problems and national mourning.

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“This is a great shame for all our willing performers, helpers, audiences and supporters who have already put so much work into the preparations or were looking forward to the festival.

“We had a great programme of events planned, including family events, street shows and a special 25th birthday concert by Werca’s Folk choir.

“But too many of our participants and audience members are in the virus at-risk categories, with many coming from far afield.”

She added: “The Gathering is not just one showcase procession through the streets – it’s a three-day affair, and with 60 events timetabled across many different indoor and outdoor venues.

“Losing just a few volunteers, performers or ticket-buyers through illness or self-isolation would risk the safety, smooth running and future of this complex festival.

“We have contacted as many performers, competitors, venues and partners as we could before making this announcement, to stop any uncertainty, and we are continuing to work towards ensuring that there are no problems as a result of the change of plan.

“As the situation unfolded we knew we had to protect all visitors and participants, and act swiftly to reduce any further expenditure that couldn’t be met by income, especially as our insurers told us they could not cover cancellation in relation to the pandemic.

“All being well, we aim to run fund-raising events later this year and then re-stage the bulk of the planned programme of activities from April 9-11, 2021, the weekend after Easter.”