The Festivals That Flew Too Close to the Sun

Jacob Peter Gowy (c 1615-1661), The Fall of Icarus (1635-7), oil on canvas, 195 x 180 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Malta's festival season draws parallels with the mythological story of Icarus.

Malta’s festival season is now officially a flop. In fact the whole farce draws parallels with a scene from the mythological story of Icarus. 

What global pandemic?

Amid a global pandemic and the mass cancellation and rescheduling of festivals around the world, you have Malta.

Four major festivals BPM, Rhythm + Waves, Escape 2 the Island, and Mi Casa. Decided to launch their events on an island where the infection rate was amongst the lowest in the world. What could go wrong?

Malta’s festival season had wings made of wax

In an opportunistic move, the festivals aimed to bring over hundreds of top acts and thousands of ravers to the island. The organizers, however, could have remembered a lesson from their Greek mythology class. 

This story draws parallels with the one of Icarus, the overconfident one who flies too close to the sun.

It goes like this – to help Icarus leave the island of Crete, His father creates a pair of wings made out of wax and feathers. The only condition is that he cannot fly too close to the sun or his wings will melt. 

When Icarus flies he feels for the first time the thrill of flight. Intoxicated with the sensation, he flies higher and higher until his wings. As his father warned – begin to melt, leading him to fall and drown in the sea. Hence the turn of phrase “flying too close to the sun”. This is often referred to as the Icarus Syndrome – where leaders overestimate their knowledge, ability, and foresight.

Sound familiar?

From the very beginning, there was a general awareness of a “second wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Warnings emerged that a resurgence of the virus could be just as, or even more devastating than its first appearance. The example often used is that of the 20th Century Spanish Flu.

Around the world, Most festivals are canceled due to government restrictions, public health hazards, and simply fear of the virus itself. In the UK, Glastonbury, Boomtown, and all other major gatherings were axed. So when Malta emerged as the last chance for summer festivals this year, it obviously got a lot of attention.

Malta's festival season to much panic very little disco
Malta’s festival season to much panic very little disco

Malta’s festival season the big boys pushed their luck

Ignoring the signs and warnings, The organizers of the four festivals in Malta pushed their luck. Attempting to salvage a festival season.

However, there was too much internet hype, Punters from abroad bought tickets. All festivals involved were going ahead with the full support of the Malta Tourism Authority.

However, once cases started rising again in Malta, things changed. Smaller local promoters took the responsibility to either cancel or postpone their events. Then the inevitable happened to the big players, who had to follow suit.

From G7 to GLITCH series, all actions were taken to ensure the safety of their partygoers, and crew members. It even got to the point where Maltese medical associations threatened to strike if all mass gatherings weren’t called off, as a second wave was bound to hit. Locals even created a petition to stop such events from happening. 

Leaving them with no choice, the organizers canceled all upcoming events, having to refund tickets. Reminiscent of Icarus, the organizers flew too close to the sun.

Written by Luc

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