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Houghton Festival explains safety reasoning behind "heartbreaking" last minute cancellation

PUBLISHED: 10:10 10 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42 10 August 2019

The festival entrance to the Houghton estate, without the expected crowds PICTURE: Matthew Farmer

The festival entrance to the Houghton estate, without the expected crowds PICTURE: Matthew Farmer

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The organisers of a major festival which was cancelled just hours before it was due to go ahead amid safety concerns have expressed their heartbreak at disappointing music fans.

Playing a set at the Pavilion Stage at Houghton Festival 2018 PICTURE: Hannah MetcalfePlaying a set at the Pavilion Stage at Houghton Festival 2018 PICTURE: Hannah Metcalfe

Due to take place between Thursday and Monday, the Houghton Festival promised fans non-stop electronic music in the stately grounds of Houghton Hall.

But on Thursday morning, just hours before the sold-out festival was supposed to start, organisers took the "heartbreaking" decision to cancel amid safety concerns caused by worsening weather conditions.

The last minute decision left thousands of music fans disappointed and meant hundreds due to work at the festival would miss out on a weekend's wages.

Now, in a statement issued on the Houghton Festival website and Facebook page, festival organisers have described the reasoning behind the decision to cancel.

Festival goers enjoy the ambience at Houghton Festival 2018 PICTURE: Jake DavisFestival goers enjoy the ambience at Houghton Festival 2018 PICTURE: Jake Davis

Thanking people for their support and understanding during the extremely challenging time, the statement reads: "In a state of shock and disbelief we are currently de-constructing the beautiful lakeside town we have built up here in Norfolk, in preparation for this weekend's storm.

"The fact that the site was so ready makes it even more heartbreaking to dismantle. Understandably we are devastated that this year's celebration did not take place."

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Explaining that while the forecast for heavy rain was disappointing , "anyone who lives in England will be no stranger to rain", they said it was wind that was the festival's enemy.

"Wind is a very different force with powerful and vicious potential. Forecasted gales are predicted in excess of 60mph.

"Whilst all structures on site are built to the highest of standards, none are designed to withstand wind speeds of this velocity."

Adding that the safety and comfort of festival goers was the "primary concern", organisers said campsites could "only take so much".

"The idea that people's homes for the weekend could be ravaged, if not destroyed by the wind, leaving them temporarily homeless is impossible to comprehend.

"We considered what lay ahead to be dangerous and after consulting various experts including our health and safety advisors we had no choice but to cancel the show. We will not risk people's safety.

"Cancelling a sold-out event on the day of its opening is incredibly difficult but our decisions were made in a professional and informed manner. Of this we are certain."

The festival closed the statement by saying it was working with its ticketing partner to organise ticket refunds, which it aimed to resolve as quickly as possible.

The full statement issued by the Houghton Festival team can read on the festival website.

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