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The European Festival Report 2018 reveals a spike in ticket prices and a drop in attendance, as festival organisers continue to face serious challenges
By Anna Grace on 20 Feb 2019
Despite a seemingly successful year, IQ’s European Festival Report 2018 shows that a continuation of ticket price rises and event attendance reduction is a major concern for organisers of European music festivals in 2018.
Ticket prices for European festivals again rose last year, having stabilised over the 2017 festival season. Festivalgoers paid €178 on average for a 2018 festival ticket, a price hike of 8.3% and an increase well above inflation rates across the continent. Of the 105 festivals that disclosed pricing details, 44 froze prices from 2017 to 2018, 2 lowered prices, and 59 (56.2%) charged more.
The continuing escalation of artist fees, along with increasing production costs, are the main contributors to such increases. Eric van Eerdenburg of Dutch powerhouse Mojo Concerts says the “crisis in talent” is responsible for “pushing up the price that the consumer has to pay”, making it hard to attract a young crowd.
“We’re pricing ourselves out of the business by potentially alienating the next generation of fans and not enough people seem to care about that situation,” says Eerdenburg.
Indeed, in contrast to previous years, festivals reported a slight fall in average capacity last year. On average, events saw a decrease of 2.7% in attendance, from 40,575 in 2017 to 39,475 in 2018.
“We’re pricing ourselves out of the business by potentially alienating the next generation of fans and not enough people seem to care about that situation”
Fewer events sold out in 2018 than during the previous year, with 45% of events selling all tickets as opposed to 53% the year before. Of the surveyed festivals, 18% reported a downturn in ticket sales.
Organisers gave a wide-ranging list of reasons for reduced attendance and ticket sales, citing market saturation, competition from new, small festivals, unfavourable weather, lack of headliners, fear of terror attacks and uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
A record number of 130 events took part in the European Festival Report 2018, reflecting the continual expansion of the European festival market which, despite challenges, shows no signs of slowing down.
Get the full lowdown on Europe’s festival summer, including insights into capacity and attendance, staffing, ticketing and pricing, overseas attendance, VIP options, major improvements and more, in the European Festival Report 2018.