Covid-19: Manx performance festival cancelled for first time in 129 years

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Karen ElliotImage source, The Guild
Image caption,
Soprano Karen Elliot won the event's most prestigious prize Cleveland Medal in 2015

The Isle of Man's largest performance festival will not go ahead for the first time in 129 years due to Covid-19 restrictions, its organisers have said.

Since 1892, thousands of people have taken part in the annual Manx Music, Speech and Dance Festival.

Usually held in April, the festival went ahead with a much scaled-down virtual event last year.

Anne Clarke said it was disappointing to cancel 2021 but promised a "bigger, better and stronger" return next year.

Hosting a virtual event in 2020 had "achieved a degree of success" but was not the same without the "sense of occasion", she added.

While postponement of 2021's event until later in the year had been considered, organisers said they wanted to avoid people "preparing in vain".

The festival, colloquially known as the Guild, began as a one-day choir competition and has expanded into a week-long event at the Villa Marina in Douglas.

It features 200 performance categories, including ballet, mime, stand-up comedy and piano, with participants ranging in age from six to 99.

Restrictions on the border due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic mean many participants and adjudicators are unable to reach the island.

The Isle of Man's border controls were increased to their highest level last week following a rise in Covid-19 cases, which have led to a second lockdown period being introduced.

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