ORGANISERS of this year's Deva Fest in Chester have postponed the event until 2022 amid a rise in Covid cases linked to the Delta variant.

Phil Marston, managing partner and founder of Deva Fest, said they were "more than a little bit devastated" that the three-day summer event will not be going ahead.

But he added that safety of festival goers had to be "the number one priority" so the decision has been taken to put it back until August 12-14 next year.

Officially launched in 2019, Deva Fest – Cheshire’s family-friendly music, food and lifestyle extravaganza – proved popular.

Like many 2020 events, the second-year festival had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Back in April organisers confirmed that it would return this year on the weekend of Friday-Sunday, August 13-15, at Chester Lakes in Dodleston, just outside Chester city centre.

Headline music acts announced included Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Heather Small, indie pop band Scouting For Girls, Dodgy and dance extravaganza Symphonic Ibiza and Sonique.

However, Mr Marston confirmed in a statement on the Deva Fest website that the event will now no longer be going ahead as planned.

He stated: "We are more than a little bit devastated to let you know that Deva Fest can’t go ahead this summer.

"Our number one priority is your safety when you are with us, and with the new variant doing the rounds and the numbers of cases starting to move the wrong way the public health bodies have decided we still need to stay apart for a little longer.

"This variant seems to be pretty strong in and around Chester at the moment, with some businesses having temporarily closed this week whilst staff isolate after positive tests.

"Social distancing was due to be scrapped on the 21st June, which would have given us plenty of time to put the finishing touches to Deva Fest with confidence.

"The new review date announced by the PM for the scrapping of social distancing (19th July) is now less than four weeks before the festival is due to take place, and of course, there is a chance that the timescales for the lifting of restrictions might get extended again.

"Looking at the special measures programme for the region and add in the delay to the Covid roadmap and there is only one safe and sensible outcome."

He added: "We have to commit to paying for everything on our festival site around 4-6 weeks in advance of the event, as well as paying all the artists the balance of the money they are due.

"As it stands we would have to make those payments before Government can confirm restrictions can be lifted. Our nightmare scenario is that we make all of those payments and then are told we can’t put the festival on. If we did that Deva Fest would not exist.

"Add in that we need to sign off all the safety aspects of the event off with local authorities and agencies who don’t know what the rules are yet for August, and you can see that we are timed out with no clear path to staging the festival.

"We believe attending a festival should be about fun, dancing and being close to friends – new and old. We can’t run the event socially distanced – we don’t have the space – and being honest we wouldn’t want to.

"Covid marshals everywhere telling you to keep 2 metres apart? No thanks.

"We have hung on as long as we can, and things looked really good a month or so ago, but with two months left we wanted to make an informed decision as soon as we were able to so that we could be fair to you.

"The decision is clear. We can’t bring you the event you love on our terms this summer.

"We know you will be hugely disappointed by the postponement, but hopefully you will understand we had no choice and that we really didn’t want to."

Organisers are currently working on moving all of the artists over to their respective days in 2022.

Ticket holders will be contacted by email later this week with their options.