We’re sorry to report that Fèis Ìle 2020 and other whisky festivals around the country will not take place this year as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreads.
We sadly received confirmation today that Fèis Ìle 2020 has been cancelled. The organisers released the following statement in The Ileach, an independent newspaper for Islay and Jura, “Following Scottish Government guidelines, with deep regret, we announce that Fèis Ìle 2020 has been cancelled. We are devastated to have to announce this. We love our festival and welcoming people from around the world. We have considered the impact on islanders, local businesses and visitors alike.”
The statement continued: “We have made this decision after lengthy discussions between the committee and our distillery partners, and have concluded no other option was viable. Please continue to support our island and we look forward to seeing you for Fèis Ìle 2021. To those who have bought tickets direct from Fèis Ìle, you will be contacted by our volunteers in the next 14 days. Please be patient and we will be in touch. Thank you”.
The directors of the Islay Festival of Malt & Music had organised an emergency meeting to discuss the status of this year’s Fèis Ìle (scheduled for 22-30 May) according to WhiskyCast and in light of current events the news, while devastating, it’s no surprise this decision was made. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously called for the cancellation of events with 500 more people in order to free up emergency services workers, while UK prime minister Boris Johnson warned the British public to avoid pubs, clubs and social venues in a bid to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. At the moment, we don’t know whether this will mean no special Fèis Ìle 2020 expressions from Islay’s distilleries.
The news follows a number of closures and cancellations across the industry. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2020 that was due to take place from 29 April -4 May has also been cancelled. “In response to the escalating situation with Covid-19, the board of directors have decided that this year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is cancelled as a preventative measure,” said James Campbell, chairman of the festival. “We very much regret the inconvenience that this will cause our visitors, event providers, members, partners and local communities, and trust that everyone will fully understand why we have had to make this decision.”
In addition, organisers of the Campbeltown Malts Festival have announced the cancellation of their event scheduled for 19-22 May, while The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has released a list (that will be updated daily) of Scotch whisky distilleries that have closed or suspended tours.
A number of other events have been postponed, including Whisky Live London and its sister festival Gin Live London. It was announced this week that both events will go ahead “later in the year”, according to the organisers. The Wine & Spirits Show, set to take place in London next month, has also been postponed, while Think Spirits has confirmed that its event will no longer take place on April 28th and instead has been pushed back to the 15th September 2020 at the same venue, St Mary’s, Marylebone.
It’s an awful shame. The festival’s blend of open events, music and merriment makes it a bucket-list trip for whisky-lovers everywhere and it’s an occasion we at Master of Malt love to visit and cover for the blog. Ultimately, public safety must take precedent, however. There will be plenty of time to enjoy delicious whisky in each others’ company in the future. For now, you can still get the best Islay and others have to offer straight to your home as we remain open for business. For more information on that, this handy blog post should answer any questions.