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PennFest 2024 cancelled due to “challenging economic climate”

The organisers of PennFest have shared that they are “devastated” over having to cancel the festival due to a “challenging economic climate”.

In a post on the festival’s official website, the organisers explained that “Challenging trading conditions coupled with significantly increasing costs in a very challenging economic climate has made it impossible to deliver the event to the standard our customers have become accustomed to.”

They continued: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and the whole team is devastated by this after all their hard work over the past 12 years since the festival’s inception.

“It saddens us even further that unfortunately this situation does not only apply to us with a significant number of festivals like ours in the UK and internationally already cancelling or postponing their events for the same reasons.”

The crowd watch on as Dizzee Rascal performs on stage headlining Splendour Festival at Wollaton Park on July 21, 2012 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns via Getty Images)

The ended by saying “For us it’s important to prioritize the wellbeing and the long-term sustainability of the festival and by regrouping in this way we can deliver on our commitment to further high-quality experiences in the future.”

Refunds will be available for ticketholders as well as the option to have tickets will roll over to the 2025 event. Plans for next year’s festival will be announced in the summer.

Pennfest is the most recent festival to cancel in the UK, joining the likes of Barn On The Farm, Nottingham’s annual Splendour festival and more.

Last month, it was revealed that 21 UK festivals have now been cancelled, postponed or scrapped – with 100 at permanent risk without action.

“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,” explained The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

AIF CEO John Rostron said in a press release: “It’s with grave concern that we again sound the alarm to Government upon passing this critical milestone. UK festivals are disappearing at a worrying rate, and we as a nation are witnessing the erosion of one of our most successful and unique cultural industry sectors.”

He continued: “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.”

Dylan at Reading Festival 2022. Credit: Phoebe Fox

Speaking to NME about the cancellation and postponement of various music festivals, Oscar Matthews, co-owner of Barn On The Farm festival, shared: “For us who put on these events, it’s very hard to suddenly adapt in the space of six months to a year to the way that they want to attend gigs and the music they want to see. We need more time to get us to that point.”

“It’s inevitable and it’s already started, but when you start to lose smaller festivals, events, gig spaces and venues, the opportunities disappear for new and emerging talent to get on stage and get their music heard,” he said. “They’ll suffer and that will inevitably have a knock-on effect further up the chain.

Rostron also added that the number on reason for last year’s festival cancellations “Was economic and financial pressures. It comes from a mixture of rising supply chain costs, and if they weren’t selling as many tickets – even by a small percentage – the difference on the increase in prices and difficulty in terms now in place meant they had to cancel.

He continued: “A number of festivals happened where everything looked good on the surface. The customers came, had a good time, the bands played, but the festivals actually lost money. Some of them are in difficulty or might be in difficulty if there isn’t a good wind. That’s very worrying. These festivals are around and don’t appear to be on fire, but maybe they are.”

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