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75,000 People Watching Man United And 15,000 Headbanging To Judas Priest: Santa Marija Weekend Was Wild… In The UK

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Gigantic firework displays and annual trips to Gozo dominated Santa Marija weekend yet again this year. One thing that was definitely missing, though, were the euphoric village feasts and massive music festivals that usually dominate this time of the year. But it turns out global vaccination-leader Malta was a barren and confusing exception compared to other countries.

In the UK, where just under 60% of the population has been totally vaccinated against COVID-19 (as opposed to Malta’s ever-impressive 92%), last weekend saw everything from sold-out stadiums to capacity concerts.

The Premier League returned in a spectacular fashion, with a total of 10 matches being played in the last three days. And the packed stadiums were something to behold. 

On Saturday alone, a whopping seven matches were played all across the British Isles, with the traditional 3pm slot seeing the return of the awesome Goal Rush matches all happening at the same time.

And with social distancing measures at sporting venues having been lifted following England’s easing of restrictions way back on 19th July, it was full houses all across the country.

In the UK’s largest club stadium Old Trafford alone, Manchester United (who came out of the weekend at the top of the table) thrashed Leeds United and welcomed new signing Raphael Varane in front of 75,000 supporters.

Among the new match day protocols for this season, the Premier League has said fans “must be prepared to prove” they are fully vaccinated – or have at least had a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 48 hours. But beyond that, it’s a nationwide feeling of a true return to normality, and one which everyone from the massive clubs to their emotional supporters were moved by this weekend.

But football matches weren’t the only events bringing together thousands of people this weekend, with the 20th edition of the beloved Bloodstock heavy metal festival bringing out a long list of heavyweights including legends Judas Priest.

With the tranquil village of Walton-on-Trent coming to life yet again, headbangers of all ages spent from Wednesday to Sunday rocking out to massive acts like Cradle of Filth, Devin Townsend, Kreator, Saxon, Skindred and the one and only Judas Priest celebrating their 50th year.

“Fans are happy and overwhelmed,” festival director Vicky Hungerford said of Bloodstock’s return after 2020’s cancellation. “We’ve had a lot of tears and screaming. Goalposts were moving all the time, but we managed to make it work and here we are on festival weekend.”

Meanwhile in Cornwall, Boardmasters 2021 saw Gorillaz, Joria Smith, The Kooks and Foals among dozens of other big artists party the night away in front of thousands of emotional fans.

“Live music, oh how we’ve missed you!” the festival’s Instagram page admitted on Sunday morning, sharing photos of the jubilant (and maskless) thousands in attendance.

To finish off the five-day festival – which has gone ahead for the first time since 2018 following two years of bad weather and COVID-19 – people at the Boardmasters festival were urged to attend a walk-in vaccine clinic before they leave the site.

“We hope that after everyone has enjoyed a brilliant few days of live music and getting back to the things they love they will take the opportunity while they’re here in Cornwall to grab a jab,” Atlantic Medial Group’s Tracey Hembrough told the BBC of the initiative. “We’re hoping to see as many glittered-up faces and happy smiles as possible during the walk-in.”


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And this is just the tip of the iceberg, with international ticketing giant Ticketmaster showing over two dozen upcoming mass events for “the return of festival season”.

Victoria Park’s All Points East Festival will be hosting Jamie XX and Slowthai.

Clapham Common’s ALT+LDN Festival will see Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, Machine Gun Kelly, Ski Mask The Slump God and Princess Nokia.

A sold-out Creamfields will return with pretty much everyone, including Tiesto, The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Eric Prydz, Faithless, Pete Tong, Redfield, Scooter, Sven Vath and deadmau5.

By the end of August, Reading and Leeds’ behemoth festivals will return, this time seeing headliners Stormzy, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age.

And yes; those are just four of the 28 festivals listed on one ticketing platform.

And yes; this is in a country which, like most of the other countries open to standing events, is still miles behind Malta in its vaccination effort.

And while many localities around Malta got to watch impressive firework displays and even attend a couple of seated events, standing events are still nowhere to be seen in the world leader for vaccinations.

With active cases still on the decline and the insane milestone of 90% of the population being vaccinated last week, Malta is set to have spent its entire summer without any standing events, despite many rumours and hints of a post-Santa Marija return.


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Meanwhile, the next set of restrictions set to be lifted around the island will see seated events’ maximum capacity for bubbles going up from 200 to 300 people as of today, and from 300 to 500 from 30th August.

In a press conference earlier this month, Health Minister Chris Fearne had promised that standing events “could be introduced cautiously over the coming weeks”… but would not specify what number of active cases in the country would be considered acceptable enough for standing events to be able to resume.

What do you make of this? Sound off in the comments below and tag someone who’d rather be in the UK right now.

READ NEXT: Over 90% Vaccinated And Still No Standing Events? Here's Why Malta Is Shooting Itself In The Foot

Sarcastically ironic, Dave is a recovering hipster musician with a penchant for chicken, women's clothes and Kanye.

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