Strong year predicted for live events industry in 2023

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The live events industry in the UK is set to have a strong year in 2023, with rising demand for festivals, gigs, West End theatre and VIP event tickets.

According to an article from the Guardian, demand for tickets is increasing despite a cost-of-living crisis across the UK, which will continue the industry’s recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While many are faced with high energy bills and rising food costs, money is still being saved for events and summer festivals. 

However, it is going to be pricy with numerous events having to also up their prices due to increased running costs. For example, UK flagship festival Glastonbury raised its ticket price in October by 26% to £340 ($408/€386) to cover cost rises. 

In June last year, theatre industry publication the Stage revealed that the price of West End theatre shows increased by more than 21% since pre-pandemic levels in 2019. 

Tickets for theme parks in the UK are also expected to rise. Merlin Entertainments, which is the world’s second-largest theme park operator after Disney, has risen its prices for a number of attractions in the UK. 

The operator owns Thorpe Park, Legoland, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life, and has increased on-the-day ticket prices at Alton Towers from £56 in 2019 to £68 in 2023. 

Demand for live entertainment was recently demonstrated by the return of comedian Peter Kay to touring, which inspired an influx of ticket purchases. 

The comedian also started his residency at the O2 in London in December, with the monthly slot sold out until March 2025. 

Entertainment giant AEG, which owns and operates the O2, also produces events in the UK such as British Summer Time (BST) in Hyde Park. The company has witnessed tickets for the festival sell out faster than pre-pandemic. 

Paul Samuels, executive vice-president for global partnerships, AEG Europe, told the Guardian: “Even with the cost of living crisis people are still buying. It could change, we have to be cautious because of course there is a risk, but we have seen no evidence at the moment. During the 2008 financial crisis there was never a drop in ticket sales – or food and beverage – at the O2. 

“People felt a holiday abroad was too much of a big-ticket cost but they still wanted a night out, to see friends, and use that as a release. We are predicting that will be the same case with the cost of living crisis, and not a total wallet crunch.”

Samuels also noted that another positive change in ticket buying behaviour was in relation to premium experiences. 

“One thing that has amazed us the most, it was a bit unexpected really, has been the premium seating boom,” added Samuels. “Not just business hospitality but consumers that just want an extra experience. Based on current sales rates, 2023 could be our biggest year yet for hospitality and premium seating.”