After one of the most challenging years in modern history came to an end, there are high hopes that 2021 will prove to be a happier experience. While we enter the year still under stringent restrictions as a result of the pandemic, the ongoing vaccine rollout offers considerable hope that life can return to something approaching pre-Covid normality in the relatively near future.
In early December as the first vaccinations began, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that it is hoped things “can start getting back to normal” from spring and added that he had “great hopes” for the summer.
On that basis – and with the caveat that if 2020 has taught us anything, it is to prepare for things not to go as hoped – here is a tentative list of events and activities that we should all hopefully be able to enjoy in the coming year.
Covid resulted in the postponement of many of 2020’s major sporting events – which has left the 2021 schedule absolutely jam-packed full as a result.
The biggest event is the Tokyo Olympics, which will now start on July 23 and run until August 8. That will be preceded European Football Championship between June 11 and July 11, that is (somewhat confusingly) still officially called Euro 2020. Among the early highlights of the tournament will be England taking on Scotland in the group stage on June 18.
The cricket T20 World Cup will also take place in India in the autumn, while golf’s Ryder Cup is scheduled for September.
Yorkshire will also play a central role in hosting one of the other major events on the sporting calendar this year – the Rugby League World Cup. For the first time in the tournament’s history, the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments will take place together in 2021. All 61 matches will be played at venues across England between October 23 and November 27, with many stadiums in this region hosting games. Matches are to be held in Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull and York.
Hopefully, all of the above events will be allowed to take place in front of crowds.
Cinemas were among the businesses hardest-hit by the pandemic, particularly when big studios understandably began to postpone the release of their major productions.
The decision in October to postpone the release of the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, for a second time triggered a spate of cinemas opting to close their doors for winter. So there will be big hopes that plans for the film to come out in April – 12 months after its original release date – go ahead.
Other delayed films which should hopefully come out this year include sci-fi epic Dune, Marvel superhero movie Black Widow and Sir Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Death on the Nile.
February should bring the release of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the film version of the hit musical about a 16-year-old boy from Sheffield who dreams of being a drag queen.
Starring Sarah Lancashire and Richard E Grant, it promises to be the biggest Sheffield-set film since The Full Monty.
Channel 5’s reimagining of All Creatures Great and Small was one of the highlights of 2020 and fans of the Yorkshire Dales-set show will have a second series to look forward to in 2021 as young country vet James Herriot (played by Nicholas Ralph) for more gentle adventures.
A second series of Gentleman Jack is also expected at some point next year, after the Sally Wainwright show about Halifax’s Anne Lister, played by Suranne Jones, won fans around the world.
Another series of Line of Duty is also on the way to the BBC in the coming months, while a long-anticipated Friends reunion episode is scheduled to be filmed in March before being released later this year.
Music festival bosses are planning to put on events across Yorkshire this summer, with Leeds Festival on the August Bank Holiday weekend likely to be the biggest draw among younger people if it can go ahead.
The line-up has been confirmed earlier than usual following the cancellation of the 2020 event, with this year’s headliners including Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi.
The Tramlines Festival should be back in Sheffield in July, while there are unconfirmed rumours that Arctic Monkeys could be heading back to their home city for a series of outdoor gigs in June.
The Scarborough Open Air Theatre has a packed programme of star names lined up for summer, including Lionel Richie, The Beach Boys, UB40 and Bryan Adams, while the Piece Hall in Halifax will play host to Yorkshire’s very own Kaiser Chiefs, The Cribs and Richard Hawley, as well as The Specials and Manic Street Preachers.
One of the hardest aspects of lockdown restrictions throughout last year was their impact on weddings, with couples either having to postpone ceremonies or go ahead in front of extremely limited numbers of guests.
While the future obviously does remain uncertain, there are strong hopes that 2021 can see weddings back to something approaching pre-Covid days.
In early December, Boris Johnson, who himself is engaged to be married to fiancee Carrie Symonds, said: “It’s my strong hope and belief that by the summer, one way or the other, whether by vaccination – which I hope and believe we will have delivered by Easter as I say – or by lateral flow testing, we’ll be in a different world.”
International travel largely ground to a halt in 2020 and even going outside your own region of the UK was curtailed for much of the year.
But the picture should be brighter for 2021. Kate Bingham, the Government’s coronavirus vaccine taskforce chairwoman, has said that with those most at-risk from Covid due to be vaccinated by April with the rollout continuing through the wider population, her “gut feel is that we will all be going on summer holidays”.
More important than any individual event or activity, what we will all be hoping for, as soon as possible, is the chance to see loved ones face-to-face and be able to share laughter, tears and hugs together without worrying about putting each other’s health at risk.
Here’s to a happy 2021 for you and yours.
And democracy back in action
Whether it falls into the ‘enjoyment’ category may be somewhat debatable, but 2021 should see democracy back in action in the UK.
Local elections were cancelled last year in the early months of the Covid crisis, which means this May’s vote will be a first litmus test at the polls for both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer since the December 2019 election.
Voters in West Yorkshire will also have the opportunity to choose the region’s first mayor.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on January 20.
Following his desperate attempts to overturn the election result, it remains to be seen whether Donald Trump will be in attendance.
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