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Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
23 May 2024, 12:26

40 UK summer festivals have cancelled 2024 edition, AIF reveals

More events could disappear this year than at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic 

40 UK summer festivals have cancelled 2024 edition, AIF reveals

40 UK summer festivals have now cancelled their 2024 edition, according to new figures from the Association for Independent Festivals (AIF). 

Britain's leading industry body has warned that without government intervention more events could disappear this year than did as a result of Covid-19. Calls have again been made for Downing Street to offer a tax break, cutting VAT on ticket sales from 20% to 5% for three years.

This month alone has seen a number of high profile dates pull their plans, including Herefordshire's El Dorado, which broke the news on Tuesday 21st May, becoming the 40th event to do so since January. "A dramatic rise in operational costs... compounded by the impact of the increased cost of living on the festival industry and community" were blamed. 

Recent weeks have also seen Glasgow's Riverside Festival cancel what would have been its 11th edition. Organisers cited "lower-than-expected sales and increased infrastructure, staff, transport, and artist costs, all in an oversaturated event landscape" as key challenges. 

Other examples include 26-year-old Nozstock The Hidden Valley, which will stop after this year's edition. Meanwhile, We Are FSTVL, which was due to take over Central Park in Dagenham, East London, this weekend, also confirmed it would not go ahead, although "record levels of rainfall" leading to safety concerns were blamed.

The latest numbers from AIF, which represents 202 festivals across the UK, ranging from 500 to 80,000 capacity, show that 172 have disappeared completely over the past five years. This includes 96 lost to the pandemic, 36 in 2023, and another 40 so far this year — 21 of which had been called off by late-March. Many more are now thought to be on the cusp of collapse, with analysts warning that unless targeted support is provided up to 100 could bow out by December.

"The speed of festival casualties in 2024 shows no sign of slowing. 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,” said AIF CEO John Rostron. "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.”

Find out more information and donate to the 5% For Festivals campaign here