Now it’s official: Angoulême 2021 is cancelled. The special June offshoot of the Angoulême international comics festival is off.

Announced on Friday, The Angoulême international festival of the 9th Art cancelled its special June event. Instead they have announced the date of the 2022 event (though whether the world will be out of the worst of the pandemic, vaccinated sufficiently and safe to travel during winter – the best time of year for viral spread – to attend is as yet up in the air. And they could postpone or cancel again).

In a post on their website and social media, the Angoulême festival team said (Translated by DeepL):

The Festival has made the decision to take place 27 to 30 January 2022.

Dear Festival Goers,

Too many uncertainties linked to the pandemic are weighing on the chances of an edition in June, which was envisaged as possible a few months ago. Offering a dense, diverse, high quality, international programme accessible to all during the summer has unfortunately proved unthinkable in view of the health circumstances.

In the coming weeks and months, the content of the programme for the new January edition will be announced. They will be of a very diverse nature and will aim to mark the renewal of the event and to bring us together once again in Angoulême, the world capital of comics.”

In September 2020, Angouleme announced that the annual festival would adapt to the pandemic situation and split the event into two components – an online public event of talks and social media videos with a private international rights market for publishers in the usual festival time of late January 2021; a smaller in-person summer event in the northern French town during what was considered a safe period to hold the festival and all its exhibitions, from 24 to 27 June, would then take place.

So much for that plan.

Europe is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 cases, with the now-dominant, highly infectious UK variant and a slow start to national vaccination programmes being to blame. Over the past few weeks European countries have been re-entering lockdown, with France officially entering its third nationwide lockdown last Saturday.

With a resurgent third wave of the virus, many other festivals are potentially in doubt. Even the UK, which is still slowly emerging from its own nationwide lockdown initiated in January after a hellish start to 2021 could see cases rise once more as the third wave potentially washes back (possibly with a newer variant) later this year, when festivals like Thought Bubble and LICAF are scheduled to take place.

At least Angouleme is holding some form of its legendary exhibitions – across the French train network. [Which is admittedly pretty darn cool – if you are able to travel]


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