Summernats auto-festival in Canberra postponed due to coronavirus

There will be no Summernats burn-out this January. Picture: Summernats
There will be no Summernats burn-out this January. Picture: Summernats

The 34th Summernats car festival due to be held in Canberra in January has been put off for a year because of the COVID-19 epidemic and the restrictions on gatherings.

The organisers say the festival, which attracts 100,000 visitors and 2,000 cars, will be back a year later in January, 2022.

But they say they are going to create "an exciting program of events" in March to try to compensate.

"ACT Health is using Exhibition Park as a COVID-19 testing facility until the end of November and can't confirm we'll have our venue back, which is an unmanageable risk to our event," Summernats managing director Andy Lopez said.

Summerants brings around 100,000 people to Canberra each summer. Picture: Summernats

Summerants brings around 100,000 people to Canberra each summer. Picture: Summernats

"Combined with ACT Health's recently released protocols that exclude outdoor multi-day festival events of more than 5,000 people, a pathway to a January Summernats is impossible."

"We've fought really hard for our event for the last six months, but we just can't find a way to get it over the line."

The festival involving very loud cars is one of the most popular events of its kind in Australia. The organisers say it generates $30 million for the ACT economy every January.

The organisers say they are planning a "reduced capacity Summernats-style event - Summernats Rev Rock 'n' Roll - in March as part of their national program of COVID safe events."

"Summernats isn't in the doom and gloom business, we're in the good times business, so we're moving forward and announcing a calendar of exciting, COVID-safe events for 2021," Mr Lopez said.

The "Rev Rock 'n' Roll" festival will be staged at Exhibition Park on March 5 to 7, with a maximum of 5000 spectators and entrants.

It will include the "Burnout Masters Grand Final" where contestants rev the car up mightily with the brakes hard on.

"We're an important test case to show that private enterprise, with government support, can deliver a COVID-safe event outside of major football codes," Mr Lopez said.

"Summernats is an important event on the Canberra calendar, bringing tens of thousands of visitors each year to town who support local businesses," ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

"It is great to see Summernats working in partnership with the ACT government to evolve the event and operate in a COVID-safe way.

"We look forward enjoying the Summernats Rev Rock 'n' Roll festival in March 2021, and to welcoming back Summernats in 2022."

This story Summernats postponed due to COVID-19 first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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