It has been revealed that 21 UK festivals have now been cancelled, postponed or scrapped – with 100 at permanent risk without action.

As reported by The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), they shared “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.”

Their statement continued: “Without intervention, it’s expected that the UK could see over 100 festivals disappear in 2024 due to rising costs. Without having had a single steady season since the pandemic in which to recover, the country’s festivals are under more financial strain than ever.”

Advertisement

Last month, the AIF launched a campaign – The 5% For Festivals – which aimed for a VAT reduction on festival tickets that would save many event promoters from closure. The lowering of the VAT from 20 per cent to five per cent on ticket sales for the next three years would be able to  give festival promoters the space they need to rebuild.

AIF CEO John Rostron said in a press release: “It’s with grave concern that we again sound the alarm to Government upon passing this critical milestone. UK festivals are disappearing at a worrying rate, and we as a nation are witnessing the erosion of one of our most successful and unique cultural industry sectors.”

He continued: “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.”

Back in December, Herefordshire’s Nozstock Hidden Valley announce that 2024 would be their final incarnation after 26 years due to “soaring costs” and financial risk”, while the fan favourite Shepton Mallet skating and music festival NASS announced that they wouldn’t be putting on an event this summer either as it was “just not economically feasible to continue”.

Elsewhere, rising costs also cancelled Dumfries’ Doonhame Festival for 2024, Bluedot announced a year off for the land to “desperately” recover after being struck by heavy rain and cancellations last summer, Nottingham’s Splendour has been canned for this year due to planning delays from a financially-struggling city council, and Barn On The Farm shared that it would be taking a fallow year due to financial constraints.

Advertisement

Speaking to NME about the cancellation and postponement of various music festivals, Oscar Matthews – co-owner of Barn On The Farm festival shared: “For us who put on these events, it’s very hard 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.”

Concert crowd and concert stage. Credit: Jena Ardell via Getty

“It’s inevitable and it’s already started, but when you start to lose smaller festivals, events, gig spaces and venues, the opportunities disappear for new and emerging talent to get on stage and get their music heard,” he said. “They’ll suffer and that will inevitably have a knock-on effect further up the chain.

Rostron also added that the number on reason for last year’s festival cancellations “Was economic and financial pressures. It comes from a mixture of rising supply chain costs, and if they weren’t selling as many tickets – even by a small percentage – the difference on the increase in prices and difficulty in terms now in place meant they had to cancel.

He continued: “A number of festivals happened where everything looked good on the surface. The customers came, had a good time, the bands played, but the festivals actually lost money. Some of them are in difficulty or might be in difficulty if there isn’t a good wind. That’s very worrying. These festivals are around and don’t appear to be on fire, but maybe they are.”

10609