UK festival scene at risk as more than 20 cancel or postpone 2024 editions

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The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) urgently warns the government that over 100 festivals are at risk of disappearing in 2024 if nothing is done to reduce rising running costs.

The non-profit festival trade association published a statement from CEO John Rostron on Wednesday, March 13, which read: “It’s with grave concern that we again sound the alarm to Government…festivals are disappearing at a worrying rate.”

AIF’s appeal comes after the organisation’s research found that 21 festivals have announced a postponement, cancellation or complete closure in the first three months of 2024.

Highlighting the urgency of the matter, AIF points out that last year saw a total of 36 cancellations suggesting this year could “far outstrip 2023”.

Read this next: How The Cost Of Living Crisis Is Impacting Festivals

The organisation is now campaigning for a minimum of 5% reduction in tax on ticket sales for the next three years, which according to AIF research and calculations “would save” almost all the festivals facing closure and postponement.

According to the AIF: “Temporary support from the UK Government – lowering VAT from 20% to 5% on ticket sales for the next three years – is all that’s needed to give festival promoters the space they need to rebuild”.

The two most recent festivals to announce closure/postponement are Cotswolds-based Nibley Festival and Bradford’s Bingley Festival, citing “rapidly rising production costs”.

AIF has continually worked to shed on the difficulties festivals have been facing since 2021, citing forced COVID cancellations, staffing and supply issues caused by Brexit, 20-30% rising costs in 2022, financial aftereffects following the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis.

Read this next: Why we need our DIY spaces and co-operative venues more than ever

In 2023 the non-profit launched First Festival, a fundraising initiative to raise money for young people struggling to afford festival tickets.

This year, the UK’s legendary Glastonbury Festival was among others increasing prices, with tickets now a total of £360 in 2024.

With ticket prices reaching nearly £100 a day for many UK festivals it’s not a surprise that 65% of people in 2024 agreed that music festivals are becoming too expensive, according to researcher Opinium.

In a report on the effects of the cost of living crisis on festivals, Mixmag found it’s likely “a considerable number – especially among the smaller, younger events will not make it to 2024“.

Belle Richardson is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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