Festivals, fireworks and other facilities: The ban on things that go bang at music events

As the festival season begins to ramp up in earnest (with the Isle of Wight Festival currently ongoing at the time of writing) it will surprise some festival-goers to know that a recent change in law may affect the goings-on in muddy fields and crowded venues up and down the country this summer.

Under Section 134 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, it is an offence for a person to have in their possession a pyrotechnic article at a qualifying music event or at another place which is being used by the organisers of that musical event for regulating entry or exit from the event or for sleeping or ancillary facilities.   Qualifying musical events are themselves defined under accompanying Regulations as being an event open to members of the public or a section of the public which takes place on premises licensed for the performance of live music.

So what does this mean in practice?  From the 3 April 2017, if someone is attending an event where live music is being played and members of the public can attend, devices that explode or produce heat, light, sound, gas or smoke or a combination of the above (defined as pyrotechnic articles) cannot be in one's possession on the premises.  In addition, they cannot be in one's possession on any premises being used for entry or exit from that event or any other premises where the organisers of the event are providing facilities as part of that event (such as toilets, sleeping or  refreshment facilities).

There are exceptions to the above, matches are explicitly not included as a pyrotechnic device and the Secretary of State may make further regulations exempting other items as required.

Possessing a pyrotechnic device on such premises as described above leaves an offender liable to a prison sentence of up to three months, or a fine not exceeding £1,000, or both.

On that basis, festival-goers are advised to pack their welly boots and sun cream, but leave their fireworks and flares at home.

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