YORK’S annual Festival of Remembrance has been cancelled in the wake of the pandemic.

Organisers say the event in November would have been both unsafe and financially unviable, given the age of many of the people who would have been in the audience.

The event normally takes place at York Barbican a week before Remembrance Sunday and raises thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. By 2017, the total raised came to more than £150,000.

The festival moved last year from its traditional home to a new venue, the auditorium at Manor CE Academy in Millfield Lane, Nether Poppleton.

Producer Sandie Dunleavy said she believed taking it to a different part of the city would attract people who wouldn’t necessarily go to the Barbican, and the school had a thriving and sizeable Cadet Force, which would assist with the logistics of the event.

The festival featured the Band of the Yorkshire Regiment with female singers, plus singer and choir leader Jessa Liversidge, singing a selection of songs including a Last Night of the Proms style finale.

Denise Edgar, President of the York Branch of the Legion, said yesterday: “Sadly there will not be a festival this year.

“When you take into account the age of our core audience and all the safety precautions needed, it would have been unsafe and financially unviable,” she said.

“It’s sad, but keeping everyone safe is more important.”

Asked if the festival would be revived next year, assuming a vaccine is in place, she said: “Hopefully, if all is well.

“Next year sees the 100th anniversary of the Legion so York Branch is hoping to celebrate, as it was formed in June 1921 - just weeks after the British Legion was formed in mid-May.”

Asked whether York’s Remembrance Sunday Parade would be going ahead this year, she said it was organised by the council and to date she hadn’t received any information about what was happening.

But the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker, said she understood it was hoped there could be a very slimmed down Remembrance Day event, although the details of that were still being worked through.