THE Fife Festival of Music has been cancelled due to COVID to ensure "the greater safety of all involved".

A popular annual event with performances from school pupils from across the Kingdom, it was due to go ahead from January 31 to February 11 next year.

The festival did not take place this year due to the pandemic but plans for a return in 2022 were well under way with more than 400 entries received.

However, festival chairman Graeme Wilson said: "All of the preparatory work at that time was undertaken with an expectation that the COVID-19 infection and consequences would fall significantly, that vaccinations would see off the danger and that there would be a swift and growing return to normal.

"Sadly, on present evidence, this is not the case and with unsecured guarantees of safety during the remaining two months prior to the festival’s start date, the committee has reconsidered its position."

The festival supports and develops music-making in the community and the 40th anniversary event went ahead in February of last year.

Schools take part in both competitive and non-competitive classes for singers and instrumentalists and pupils from across West Fife performed in front of audiences in the Carnegie Hall.

The events embrace a wide range of music, from clarsach to choirs, Scots songs to opera and strings, brass and percussion but unfortunately it won't go ahead next February.

Mr Wilson said the decision was "laced with regret, sadness and heavy hearts" but for the "greater safety of all involved, it has to be regarded as the proper course of action".

He added: "The festival embraces a large community with an age range from five to 80-plus – entrants, whether individuals or in large groups of school students or adults, teachers, parent-helpers, audiences, officials, committee, stewards, adjudicators, venue, catering and transport staff, and the organisers carry a huge responsibility for the safety of each and every one of those people.

"There are many scenarios within the festival events with groups of young people and/or adults amassing, moving about, often within relatively confined spaces, creating challenges for social-distancing and safety.

"Sessions at the festival before, during and after are busy and the close proximity of many people involved has been a major consideration in this deliberation and decision."