40th UK festival called off in 2024 alone

The UK’s festival sector has reiterated calls for a reduction in VAT after a 40th UK festival was called off so far in 2024.

Herefordshire’s El Dorado Festival announced its cancellation on Tuesday citing a dramatic rise in operational costs compounded by the impact of the increased cost of living.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) warned that without intervention, more than 100 festivals will disappear in 2024. At the start of February, the group launched a new campaign asking for a temporary VAT reduction to 5% on festival tickets that would save many event promoters from closure.

AIF CEO John Rostron said: “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.

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

170+ festivals lost since Covid outbreak

AIF figures show that with 96 events lost to Covid, 36 in 2023 and 40 to date in 2024, the total number of UK festivals to have disappeared since 2019 is 172.

The 5% For Festivals campaign is an awareness campaign that seeks to inform festival-goers about the problems that music festival promoters have faced over the last five years, encouraging them to contact their MPs to lobby for a much needed VAT reduction on tickets.

The AIF added: “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.

“Temporary support from the UK Government – lowering VAT from 20% to 5% on ticket sales for the next three years – is all that’s needed to give festival promoters the space they need to rebuild.”