Mayflower 400 commemorations cancelled amid delay to easing of Covid lockdown restrictions

Organisers are "devastated" to cancel the commemorations for the second year running due to Covid-19.

Two of the main Plymouth Mayflower 400 commemorations will not go ahead this year due to the delay in easing coronavirus restrictions.

Two days of events were going to be staged in Plymouth on 10 and 11 July to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship setting sail to America.

However, plans for the Mayflower 400 Four Nations Ceremony have had to be cancelled for a second time because of Covid-19 restrictions. The events were already delayed from May last year due to the pandemic.

Plymouth City Council and Mayflower 400, the organisers of the commemorations, announced the cancellation on Wednesday 16 June, although some other events will still go ahead as planned.

In a statement, they said they are "incredibly disappointed" to be cancelling both the ceremony and two festivals: Plymouth Presents: Roots Up! and Soundwaves Festival.

Despite planning to ticket and fence the events to mitigate Covid-19 restrictions, organisers say the delay to the planned easing of lockdown of 21 June means the ceremony can no longer go ahead.

As restrictions will not have been eased by 10 July, organisers say it will be "impossible" to rehearse and host the Mayflower 400 Four Nations Ceremony while social distancing is still a necessity due to the sheer size of the production.

They said the safety of performers, crew and audience is their "absolute priority".

The Ceremony was set to celebrate 400 years since the Mayflower set sail in 1620.

Chair of Mayflower 400 Adrian Vinken said: “Our thanks go to the creative and production teams, choirs and actors who have worked so hard to create an amazing ceremony performance.

"We’re devastated that we won’t be able to share it with the public in the format we had planned but their safety is paramount. 

"We’re looking into alternative ways to capture and share this very special performance and commemoration with the people of Plymouth and the world so all that exceptional work is not lost.”

The ceremony was confirmed to go ahead by organisers in late April 2021, based upon the UK Government's initial 'roadmap' out of coronavirus restrictions.

The Roots Up! Hip Hop festival's cancellation will also mean the work of some young musicians will not be on display.

Mr Gorniak added: "It was going to be an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the Hip Hop and performance skills of some extraordinarily talented young people, as well as to share our core values of respect, peace, love, unity and having fun, all in the context of the very important Mayflower story.

“Everyone at Street Factory has worked incredibly hard on Roots Up! and we will be searching for ways to put this unique Hip Hop festival in front of the audience it deserves.”

A replica of the Mayflower off Plymouth. Credit: PA

Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture, said: “We are deeply disappointed that an extension to the Covid-19 restrictions means we have to cancel the Soundwaves Festival.

"The organisers and artists involved have worked so hard to develop an amazing line-up but this is the right decision to make for everyone’s safety.

“We are acutely aware of the ongoing and disproportionate impact these delays and decisions have on the cultural sector and live event/music industry in particular.

"As such, we are committed to continuing to supporting the music sector in Plymouth to restart in other ways and will be reconvening with the team to see what alternative opportunities might exist to help artists and audiences.”

Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth, said: “We know the delay in easing restrictions will cause disappointment for many people, but public safety remains the utmost priority.

"Although the vaccination programme in Plymouth is going well, it’s important that everyone continues to work together to keep the virus under control and follows the safety measures in place.”

But not all Mayflower 400 commemorations are cancelled.

The Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy and Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America exhibitions at The Box, The Hatchling performance in August, and the Mayflower walking trail and fantastic community activities will all still be available for people.

Special theatre productions are also being put on stage at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.  400: A Comedy by Le Navet Bete tackles 400 years of history with humour and is running from 16 to 19 June, and the 22 June to 4 July.

Similarly, an international community production of This Land will also take place at a later date. 

SailGP’s Great Britain Sail Grand Prix on 17 and 18 July will also still go ahead, while following government guidelines and SailGP’s own Covid-safe plan. This is because it is an elite, professional sporting event.

Those with tickets to SailGP's event will be able to watch from the waterfront in the socially distanced spectator area. Boat owners will still be able to take their boat out to watch the race, if adhering to government guidelines.

The Grand Prix will be live streamed on SKY Sports (UK & Ireland) and YouTube for everyone else to watch safely at home.

More information on the Plymouth 400 commemorations can be found at

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