The Life Lessons festival at Chiswick House has been cancelled.
The festival was to have been over the weekend of 16 – 18 July, featuring world class speakers such as Prof Brian Cox, Mary Portas, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Claudia Winkleman, Ruby Wax and Chris Packham.
Images above: Dr Rangan Chatterjee; Ruby Wax; Robin Ince & Brian Cox
Statement from the organisers
The organisers, Redcoat Events, a subsidiary of Brand Events, working with the Sunday Times, released the following statement on Wednesday 30 June:
It is with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to cancel this year’s Sunday Times Life Lessons festival.
‘While Covid restrictions have been lifted in recent weeks, our fundamental responsibility remains to our audience, our speakers, our exhibitors, our suppliers and our sponsors. Their wellbeing remains our paramount concern. And while we hope and believe that the UK is on the right track to emerge safely from the pandemic in the months ahead, we have taken the hard decision to put safety ahead of ticket sales and cancel the Life Lessons festival planned for the weekend of July 16th to 18th at Chiswick House in London.
‘We believe this is the right decision, and provides clarity for everyone. But be in no doubt – The Sunday Times’ Life Lessons festival will return: bigger, better, stronger and more relevant than ever before. Our speakers – who illuminate our cultural landscape – can’t wait to return to share their ideas with the Life Lessons community. And when we can gather safely together once again, we will celebrate all the big things that matter to us: from cohesion to wellbeing and sustainability; challenging perceived wisdom and redefining the horizons ahead of us’.
Image above: Chiswick House; photograph Clive Boursnell
The organisers said they would refund all ticket holders in full and that the refund process has already started. See information for ticket holders here: lifelessonsfestival.com
The festival was originally planned for December 2020 and postponed to this May this year, then moved to July, by which time organisers evidently hoped we’d be free of lockdown restrictions. They lost several big names, including Graham Norton, when they had to change the date.
When the Prime Minister announced on 14 June that the final phase of lockdown easing would be delayed by a month, it put the event in the final weekend of lockdown restrictions, now due to be lifted on Monday 19 July, the day after the festival finished.
They found they would only be allowed to sell 4,000 tickets. They announced a week ago that the tickets, including those they’d already sold, would be now all-day tickets with access to six sessions instead of three, doubling the value to festival goers, but losing the organisers half their potential profit.
Director of Chiswick House Xanthe Arvanitakis, told The Chiswick Calendar:
“It’s very disappointing that Brand Events have cancelled the event”.
Festival hopes to be at Chiswick House next year
This was to have been the first Life Lessons festival at Chiswick House; the only previous Life Lessons festival was held at the Barbican in February 2020. The organisers have told The Chiswick Calendar they are hoping to be able to bring the festival to Chiswick next year.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
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