A brand new festival, intended to bring major musical acts to Stornoway over three days at the end of this month, has been cancelled, it’s been confirmed today (Wednesday 17 May).
In a statement on social media, organisers of the Midnight Sun Weekender Festival, said: “We are heartbroken to announce that, due to circumstances outwith our control, we have had to make the very difficult decision to cancel the Midnight Sun Weekender Festival.
“Rising costs and limited availability on festival infrastructure, as well as the cost-of-living crisis having an impact on ticket sales, means that we are not in the position to deliver the event that we had hoped to bring to our beautiful island.”
The festival was due to begin in just over a week’s time, on Thursday 25 May, and work had already started to prepare the site.
But Ian MacArthur, Midnight Sun Weekender Festival director, said: “As organisers, we have tried everything we can to overcome the challenges we have faced to stage this event, however it has become impossible for us to move forward.
“We are deeply disappointed to confirm this news, especially at this late stage, and would like to reassure our customers that anyone who has purchased tickets will be able to claim a refund.
"We deeply regret the impact this cancellation will have on the local retail and hospitality sector and the economic impact overall to Stornoway, but would like to thank the Safety Advisory Group, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Stornoway Trust, Breedon Hebrides, Stornoway Port Authority, Scottish Water and Woody’s Express for all their support to us over recent weeks and months."
The announcement confirms rumours which have been circulating over the past 24 hours, with would-be festival attenders locally and from off the island clamouring for definite information.
The festival shop at the former Sports World premises on Point Street opened this week, but doors were shut yesterday and those looking for tickets said they were not able to buy online or contact the festival by phone.
It was thought that the event might only be postponed, with a new date in 2024.
But ticketing agency Skiddle has told ticket-holders today: “No alternative date has been offered, we are working with the event organiser to arrange refunds.
“We will be in touch in due course regarding your refund. You do not need to contact Skiddle as this will be processed automatically onto the card you originally paid with.”
The Midnight Sun Weekender was expected to bring big name artists including John Fogerty, The Pretenders, Ocean Colour Scene and Primal Scream to Lews Castle Green, for three nights of entertainment from Thursday 25 May.
Headliner John Fogerty had made the festival one of the early dates in an international tour, also taking in Sweden and Paris, and Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, has also started a UK tour taking in the festival.
The news will come as a blow to artists, visitors and local people, including businesses gearing up to serve the additional tourist trade.
Comments on social media are referring to expenditure laid out for travel, accommodation and time off work, some people having already set out to spend a week here ahead of the festival.
Others have expressed sympathy and support for the organisers who, they say ‘have worked hard to get this off the ground.’
As well as the impacts on local hospitality and tourism businesses, the cancellation will hit three local charities who were to benefit from festival donations, going to Eilidh’s Trust, Bethesda Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.