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3 major London summer festivals postponed until July 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic

TD Sunfest, along with the Home County Music and Arts Festival and Start.ca Rocks the Park, has been postponed until July 2021.
TD Sunfest, along with the Home County Music and Arts Festival and Start.ca Rocks the Park, has been postponed until July 2021. Ozioma Ibeto/ 980 CFPL

Three major London, Ont., festivals — Start.ca Rocks the Park, TD Sunfest and the Home County Music and Art Festival — have been postponed until July of next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three are among at least 40 events and festivals in the city that announced on Monday plans to cancel or postpone. Gatherings impacted by the pandemic also include several charity runs and walks, the London Food & Craft Beer Festival and the London Kids Triathlon.

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Start.ca Rocks the Park, a staple in the London community and part of summer celebrations for 17 years, was scheduled for July 15 to 18 but will now be pushed off until July 14 to 17, 2021.

“The well-being of our fans, artists, staff, vendors, partners and the surrounding community is our number 1 priority. These are without a doubt crazy and unprecedented times but as a city and community, we will all get through this,” read a release from the festival.

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There are only a few changes in the lineup for 2021. Due to artist scheduling conflicts, performances by some artists, including Jack Johnson, Vance Joy and Andy Shauf have been cancelled.

The festival also says this year’s country night, which was to feature Dallas Smith, Billy Currington and Blanco Brown, has been cancelled.

Despite two of its nights being cancelled, the festival says it will be adding Aqua to its throwback night lineup.

Refunds are available for all days of the celebration, and requests must be submitted by May 31, 2020.

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TD Sunfest, initially scheduled for July 9 to 12, is now scheduled to take place from July 8 to 11, 2021.

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“In these extraordinary and worrying times, nothing matters more than our commitment to protect the health, safety and well-being of the Sunfest family and the wider community in which we live,” said Alfredo Caxaj, executive and artistic director of TD Sunfest.

The festival committee says it recognizes the impact that a postponement will have on stakeholders, including artists, food and craft exhibitors, patrons, staff and volunteers but added it is excited about returning stronger than ever in summer 2021.

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Meanwhile, the Home County Music and Art Festival has been rescheduled for July 16 to 18, 2021.

“This was a very hard call to make, but it is clearly the wisest and most responsible choice,” said Paul Mills, chair of the Home County Folk League. “The path that the COVID-19 pandemic will take over the next few months is uncertain, and rather than take any chances, the most prudent course of action was to make this difficult but necessary decision.”

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Both TD Sunfest and the Home County Music and Art Festival attract tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe and contribute millions of dollars to the local and provincial economies in addition to portraying some of the Forest City’s greatest musical and sociocultural diversity.

“The TD Sunfest and Home County festivals are special gathering places for friends, family and community. We know this announcement is difficult for many to hear as we crave familiar sights and sounds,” said Andrea Hibbert, executive director of the London Arts Council. “We will continue to work with these arts organizations in order to navigate through these uncertain times. And when it is safe to gather again, we will meet you in the park!”

Mayor Ed Holder noted that the city has not decided to deny issuing event permits, as organizers have taken it upon themselves to voluntarily postpone or cancel events.

“The fact they’ve done so is truly a testament to their individual character, as well as their commitment to the safety and well-being of Londoners,” said Holder.

“In addition, the province of Ontario has already banned gatherings of more than five people. In the unlikely event large gatherings are once again permitted by the province before the end of summer, we will make a determination — based on the health and safety of Londoners — whether it’s appropriate for London to follow suit,” he explained.

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“I have every confidence Londoners will reward these community-minded organizers by turning out in record numbers next year when festival season resumes in London, bigger and better than ever.”

A list of postponements and cancellations as of April 27 can be found below.