Y Not Festival's Jason Oakley, is clearly a man who likes a challenge.  In 2019 he saved the festival from collapse, buying it back from Global just six weeks before it took place.  The festival went ahead, was a great success despite the best efforts of mother nature (which turned some areas of the site into rivers of mud).  Then came Covid 2020 was cancelled and coming into this year it was a case of planning for an event which until the government announced its roadmap was at best uncertain.

The last time I saw Jason was just before Foals took to the Main Stage at Y Not in 2019, he and his management team came to the bar for a well earned drink, he was shattered and euphoric having pulled off what many thought to be impossible.  I caught up with him recently to discuss Covid, 2021 Festival and beers

What have been the main challenges in trying to plan a festival during a pandemic?

Uncertainty has been the biggest issue, willingness to commit funds to suppliers and contractors has been difficult. The ever changing situation and the peaks and troughs in confidence on the likelihood of the event happening has been difficult. Managing cash flow, staffing levels and costs along with work loads.   

In 2019 you made a strategic decision to use local suppliers for production do those relationships give you greater hope that Y Not 2021 will be able to go ahead?

Yes they do and the personal relationships we have with them also allows us more flexibility. In the challenging situation we find ourselves in its all about not committing to costs until we are certain we will go ahead. Local, smaller more personal suppliers are able to work with us better than the larger corporate companies and we are also seeing a wealth of good will in the local area and seeing the benefits of the festival first hand in opportunities for people we know and who attend and support the event.   

Y Not received finance from Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, what areas of the festival has this been invested in?

We have invested this in our family area and we are hoping to role this out in 2021 and then isolate that area and do year round pop up family events to diversify.  

Will Y Not 21 take place if Government Covid 19 insurance is not in place?

It will be challenging  

How supportive have the local authority been for this year’s event?

Incredibly, we have a fantastic relationship with them and they are immensely supportive. They trust us to do the right thing and they work with us every step of the way. We feel very lucky to operate in their area.    

What additional measures can Y Notters expect when they arrive on site?

We are not going to know this 100% until the government releases details, but I think some things are a safe bet such as turning up with a negative test from the previous day and increased hand wash and sanitiser stations.  

Should the Government indicate that minimum spacing between tents do you have the space to extend?

We are fortunate enough to have a lot of options in this area yes.  

Looking at some of your social media postings it seems that confirming your line up has been ‘challenging’ was this down to bands availability or exclusivity deals slapped on by other organisers?

Both really. We really don't like the exclusivity stuff and we rarely if ever exercise it ourselves, it's a shame others don't take the same attitude especially in a year where most artists have lost the previous years earnings and are looking to work as hard as possible. 

Y Not is a truly independent festival does this make booking bands more difficult than other festivals that have huge finance behind them?

It's certainly a factor, we are lucky enough to have an amazing booking agent who tends to make things work but I dare say we end up paying more than most when we are smaller than most which doesn't seem fair. We look at it as the price you pay for authenticity.   

This year’s line up has more depth than many ‘indie’ centric festivals, was that always the objective?

Very much so yes, Y Not has always been a value for money event and we want to offer as much as we can across the board for as little as possible.  

Y Not always tweaks things based on feedback, what can punters expect this year?

Better on site operations and management. An event that is ready and up for wet weather - We have redesigned the site around wet weather measures. Customers can literally wheel their cases from box office to their tent field on hard tracks.   

Y Not Festival 2019Say goodbye to this

In recent years The Giant Squid has had punk icons headlining, Buzzcocks, The Damned what can we expect this year?

Not sure these have been released mate but we are very excited about them! Dinosaur Pile up are on there that has been announced but the other two you'll have to wait and see. 

Flamingo Jacks is a chance to find a bit of cabaret, will it be back this year, if so will Barryoke be part of it?

It certainly will and so will Barry!  

How many beers and cider will be available at the Clock Tower this year?

We can't wait to welcome back Leather Britches brewery and their wall of Ale and Cider - Knowing Ed there will be some interesting tipples amongst the steady ales. Drink with caution particularly the moonshine!  

Can you ask the weather gods to keep the wind and the rain away this year?

It even thundered Y Not weekend 2020! I think it's just Thor's favourite festival he turns up most years.  

Y Not Festival takes place from Thursday 29th July - Sunday 1st August

Y Not Festival Line Up

Y Not Festival 2021 line up poster

Further acts to be announced in the coming weeks

Ticket Information

Adult Weekend Camping- £119.50 + booking fee
Youth Weekend Camping - (aged 13-17) - £119.50 + booking fee
Family Weekend Camping - £119.50 + booking fee
Child Weekend Camping Tickets (12 and under) - FREE
Thursday Upgrade - £30.00 + booking fee
VIP - £70.00 + booking fee

Payment plans are also available 

Tickets available from the Y Not website.