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Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
14 March 2024, 13:54

21 UK festivals cancelled, postponed or permanently cancelled, many more at risk, AIF reports

“Without intervention, it’s expected that the UK could see over 100 festivals disappear in 2024"

Crowd shot from Standon Calling festival at night with lights beaming from the stage
Credit: Standon Calling 2023 / Giulia Spadafora

21 UK festivals have now cancelled, postponed or permanently dissolved ahead of 2024's season. The research, published by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) also suggests many more are at risk of disappearing unless direct action is taken now. 

The organisation, which represents festivals across the country, has warned "the timing of this milestone suggests that the number of festival cancellations will far outstrip 2023." Last year 36 events were pulled in total. 

Among those cancelled is 26-year-old Nozstock: The Hidden Valley, which has confirmed it will bow out completely this July. Meanwhile, Standon Calling, Neighbourhood Weekender, NASS, Doune The Rabbit Hole, and Tokyo World are among the other teams abandoning plans. 

“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," AIF said in a statement. 

The organisation launched a new campaign in February 2024, 5% For Festivals, lobbying Government to offer a VAT reduction for the sector. By reducing tax to 20%, it is hoped many promoters and organisers could be saved before this summer. Keeping that rate for three years would then afford time for the industry to rebuild and develop new income and ticketing models. 

"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," said AIF CEO John Rostron. 

Since events returned from Covid-19 lockdowns, overheads for UK productions have increased significantly. Meanwhile, the uncertainty that led to more than half of all British festivals cancelling in 2021, even after restrictions ended, left many in precarious financial positions after issuing refunds or promises to honour tickets in subsequent years.  

Sales since that time have been slower to recover than expected, with cost-of-living and energy crises blamed for reducing public spend. To try and drive more attendance, in 2023 AIF set up a fundraising initiative aimed at helping young people afford the cost of British festival passes, which, according to one study, have risen faster than anywhere in the world. At the time of writing, just over £1,600 had been raised