Deer Shed Festival is off, blaming lack of Government support for event insurance

No Deer Shed 11, no James, no Tim Booth dance moves, as the 2021 festival is postponed

DEER Shed Festival has been postponed for the second successive summer under the pandemic cloud, this time the lack of viable Covid cancellation insurance being a hurdle too far.

Initially, encouraged by the Government roadmap to unlocking set in place on February 22, organisers Oliver and Katie Jones decided to go “full steam ahead” from July 30 to August 1 at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Thirsk.

They vowed to “work flat out” to deliver “what looks like a full fat Deer Shed 11”. Now, however, they have announced the postponement of the “three-day wonderland of music, arts, science and sport for all ages”, headlined by Stereolab, James and Baxter Dury.

New dates are in place for Deer Shed 12 from July 29 to July 31 2022, and the back-up plan of “exciting” new Base Camp Plus is in place for this summer.

In a website statement to Deer Shedders under the title “The bad news”, Oliver and Kate say: “We have made the decision to postpone Deer Shed until 2022. Many things remain uncertain for festivals this summer, but the lack of Covid cancellation insurance is the one hurdle we have been unable to clear.

“Earlier in the year, we were hopeful a Government-backed Covid insurance scheme would be in place, but we now have no reason to believe it will be despite frantic industry lobbying.”

The statement continues: “Deer Shed is still a 100 per cent independent family owned and run festival, and the risks of running without insurance leave Kate and myself financially exposed well beyond our comfort zone.

“We will, of course, offer ticket refunds for Deer Shed 11 or rollovers to Deer Shed 12. We really appreciate those of you who will again be able to support us by rolling over your tickets to 2022.”

Full details on the postponement can be found at:, where all manner of questions are answered too. Any further questions should be emailed to

Refunds applications should be made by April 29. Alternatively, Deer Shed can provide a voucher to the 2023 event if you cannot make the 2022 dates.

Under the headline “The good news”, Oliver and Kate confirm they instead will run a smaller event within their comfort zone: Base Camp Plus, an upgrade on last summer’s “hugely successful” Base Camp, with extra bits, on the July 30 to August 1 weekend.

This will take the form of “a safe camping weekend in Baldersby Park, with plenty of space, loads of camping options, including your own loo,” says the organisers. “Park next to your pitch, book next to your mates, bring the dog…

Oh deer: Deer Shed Festival’s announcement of this summer’s postponement

Plus live music and comedy performances (at last!), food, drink, partying, campfires, workshops, theatre, well-being, swingballs and anything else we dream up.

“Of course, the plus does rely on continued progress in the unlocking roadmap. We will have more details in the coming weeks, space is limited, so register your interest and be first in line when we release tickets.” To express that interest, visit the website.

Looking ahead, the line-up for Deer Shed 10 last summer had rolled over to Deer Shed 11, but this will not be the case for 2022.

“After carrying the line-up over once before, we feel a fresh start for 2022 is necessary, particularly with some fantastic recent additions to the Deer Shed music and arts booking team,” say Oliver and Kate.

We know many of you were looking forward to seeing the acts billed at Deer Shed Festival 11, but we strongly believe this is the best option for facilitating the most exciting line-up possible next year.”

Deer Shed Festival joins early June’s Download Festival, at Donington Park, Leicestershire, and August’s five-day Boomtown, at Mattersley Estate, Hampshire, in announcing their cancellation this week in light of the Government still refusing to offer festival insurance against Coronavirus to such outdoor events.  

All eyes now will be on Yorkshire’s biggest open-air event of the summer, Leeds Festival, set to play to full crowds with Covid-secure protocols in place from August 27 to 29 at Bramham Park, near Wetherby.

Festival organiser Melvin Benn, of Festival Republic, has been prominent in asking the Government to provide festival insurance, but Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has resisted such calls again this week.

In a nutshell, independent festivals are reluctant to throw money at non-refundable costs without the assurance of insurance being in place.

As for bigger events, such as Leeds Festival, Mr Benn says: “The worry about insurance is not confined to the smaller festivals, I have that worry too. We’re all working really tightly together on all of this – the big festivals and small festivals are being very collaborative.”

In a letter to the Prime Minister, 42 Conservative MPs are asking the Government to support a £250 million insurance scheme to enable event organisers to “ensure that live music festivals can proceed with their plans to go ahead after 21 June”.

Watch this space for what will happen next as Roadmap Step 3 and Step 4 unfold, with the tantalising prospect of freedom from lockdown measures on Summer Solstice Day.