The Festivals that Flew Too Close to the Sun

The Festivals that Flew Too Close to the Sun

The flop of Malta’s pandemic-era festival scene depicts a parallel to the mythological story of Icarus. 

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

Here, 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?

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 organisers, 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 it’s first appearance. The example often used is that of the 20th Century Spanish Flu.

Around the world, most festivals were cancelled 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 a last chance for summer festivals this year, it obviously got a lot of attention.

Ignoring the signs and warnings, the organisers of the four festivals in Malta pushed their luck in an attempt to salvage a festival season. There was much internet hype, punters from abroad bought tickets and all was going ahead with the support of the Malta Tourism Authority. 

“Wave 3”

However once cases started rising again in Malta, things changed. Smaller local promoters took the responsibility to either cancel or postpone their events.

From G7 to GLITCH series, all actions were taken to ensure the safety of their partygoers and crew members from the second wave. 

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 organisers cancelled all upcoming events, having to refund tickets. Reminiscent of Icarus, the organisers flew too close to the sun.

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