Over 100 UK festivals could “disappear”

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As summer lingers and the last remaining festival line-ups are announced, music lovers all over the country are getting their bumbags and bucket hats ready. However, these gigs in the sun might be finite, as more events than ever are closing down. Now, it has been confirmed 21 UK festivals are no longer with us and another 100 are at permanent risk if further action is not taken.

The findings come courtesy of the Association of Independent Festivals, who stated, “The timing of this milestone suggests that the number of festival cancellations this year will far outstrip 2023, when a total 36 festivals cancelled before they were due to take place.”

While the present situation looks bleak, the future could be even darker “without intervention” to support the industry. The AIF continued: “It’s expected that the UK could see over 100 festivals disappear in 2024 due to rising costs.”

They also highlighted the immense pressure that festivals have been under since they were forced to be postponed in 2020, noting: “Without having had a single study season since the pandemic in which to recover, the country’s festivals are under more financial strain than ever.”

Some notable festivals taking years out or that have been cancelled altogether include Nozstock Hidden Valley, NASS, Dumfries Doonhame Festival, Bluedot and Barn On The Farm.

Oscar Matthews, the co-owner of Barn On The Farm, commented recently on the strain on UK festivals, saying, “For us who put on these events, it’s tough to suddenly adapt in the space of six months to a year to the way that they want to attend gigs and the music they want to see. We need more time to get us to that point.”

What is the answer to the ongoing financial stress currently placed on UK festivals? AIF has launched a campaign called ‘The 5% For Festivals,’ aiming to reduce VAT on festival tickets. If this measure is introduced, it would allow festival organisers to save money, and provide financial breathing room before more are forced close down.

Looking ahead, John Rostron, the CEO of the AIF, commented, “We have done the research: a reduction of VAT to 5% on festival tickets over the next three years is a conservative, targeted and temporary measure that would save almost all of the festival businesses that are likely to fall by the wayside this year and many more over the years to come. We need this intervention now.”

There is no doubt that the amount of festivals getting cancelled is increasing. Soaring costs and unpredictable weather play a huge part in this, and with the changing landscape of music, booking lineups that are representative of a specific niche is becoming a harder challenge.

That being said, festivals remain a staple of the live entertainment industry, not only as a means for fans to enjoy these different events but also to allow bands to promote themselves to new audiences.

Therefore, steps must be taken for festivals to stay open and carry the burden of increased costs that have been impacting them in recent years, which a five per cent reduction in VAT would allow.

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