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More than 40 UK festivals cancelled for 2024

"We are witnessing the steady erosion of one of the UK’s most successful and culturally significant industries"

By Lisa Henderson on 23 May 2024

John Rostron, AIF

John Rostron, AIF

More than 40 UK festivals have been postponed, cancelled or shut down in 2024, according to a new report from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

Bradford’s Challenge Festival is the latest casualty, with the free event axed just days before it was scheduled due to “unrealistic demands” being placed on the organisers.

In the past five years alone, 172 festivals in the UK have disappeared, according to AIF, the UK’s leading not-for-profit festival trade association.

Of those, 96 events were lost due to Covid-19, 36 were lost throughout 2023, and 40 have been lost since the start of the year.

El Dorado, Pennfest, Connect Music Festival110 Above FestivalNASS Festival, Leopollooza, Long Division, BluedotBarn On The Farm and Splendour are among this year’s losses, with the majority of organisers blaming a significant increase in operational costs.

AIF has warned that without intervention, the country will see over 100 festivals disappear in 2024 due to unpredictable rising costs.

“The speed of festival casualties in 2024 shows no sign of slowing”

In response to the crisis, the trade association has launched a campaign called Five Percent For Festivals that aims to inform festivalgoers about the problems that organisers have faced over the last five years, encouraging them to contact their MPs to lobby for a VAT reduction on tickets.

It states that temporary support from the UK Government – lowering VAT from 20 per cent to five per cent on ticket sales for the next three years – is all that’s needed to give festival promoters the space they need to rebuild.

“The speed of festival casualties in 2024 shows no sign of slowing,” says AIF CEO John Rostron said. “We are witnessing the steady erosion of one of the UK’s most successful and culturally significant industries not because of a lack of demand from the public but because of unpredictable, unsustainable supply chain costs and market fluctuations.”

“In asking for a temporary reduction in VAT related to ticket sales, we have provided the government with a considered, targeted and sensible solution, which would save this important sector. We need action now.”

Challenges are being felt by festivals of all sizes across Europe, with FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt recently telling IQ that it “has become very challenging to promote festivals in a way that keeps pushing things forward and is economically viable.”

Read the full 2024 festival preview, which also features Christof Huber (Gadget, Yourope) and Jim King (AEG Presents), here.


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