So it’s about that time of the year that those with the funds take a minute and decide on what festival they’re attending. Or is it? With Glastonbury and Oxegen taking a year off and Sonisphere joining the Big Chill in being cancelled, have you decided against festivals this year? Can your purse/wallet not take the punishment? Or (perish the thought) is it your body that cannot hack the 3-5 days or so of absolute annihilation that you put it through? If any of these reasons are ringing any bells then you may be one of the many regular festival-goers that have bowed out this year only to be followed by the festivals themselves.
It appears that Reading and Leeds are going ahead as planned (hopefully at any rate, as I have a weekend ticket for the former) although tickets have not sold out, despite being on sale for over a month now. Am I the only one who can remember these tickets selling out within hours? The days of sitting in front of three screens with five different ticket sites open on each clicking the refresh button over and over? Crashing sites and engaged telephone lines seem to be a thing of the past.
Bestival, Camp Bestival, Download and V festival are among those that are soldiering on and it seems that the former two are some of the few that are not suffering losses. The independent festivals orchestrated by DJ Rob Da Bank seem to be selling tickets as normal and the independent entrepreneur assures the public that they will not be disappointed and that “we’ll sell out again on both ourshows.” But it seems to be relatively lonely in its confidence of success.
Sonisphere and the Big Chill are just some of the bigger festivals that have pulled out due to organisation and ticket sale disasters this year, whilst a host of smaller festivals have been forced to cancel too. Oxegen’s promoters have stated that, in a similar fashion to our very own Glastonbury, they will be taking a year off, despite it being Ireland’s biggest, most popular festival and having won numerous awards. Sources claim that lack of ticket sales are responsible for this.
It seems that one of the greatest British pastimes for the summer is losing its buzz, and one shouldn’t struggle to fathom why.
The price is obviously a set back: with weekend tickets setting folks back often over £200 the initial intimidation of your bank account is surely something that has put many off. To attempt to combat this, sites such as Ticketmaster have brought in a deposit scheme for Reading and Leeds where customers can pay a 25% deposit for their ticket. Whilst speaking in an interview to NME, Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn stated that:
“It would be lovely to make [tickets] cheaper if it was economically viable but it isn’t… There’s going to be a deposit sale introduced for the March main sale, which will be the first time we’ve done that properly.”
Considering the majority of festival attendees are aged between 16 and 30 this is most certainly a wise move. However, this has not stopped 2012 from being one of the worst years for ticket sales in festival history.
The spirit of festivals seems to have seen a decline too: popstars who do not play instruments and rely on electronics to perform have won the hearts of the masses who have seen the old five-piece rock band routine one too many times.
Additionally, one of the most prominent factors that ought to be addressed is the tiny event that is being held in Britain this year known as the Olympic Games. An event with the historical magnitude such as this, and that none of us will live to see on Britain’s shores again, is a convincing diversion from a festival that will be held again a year after. This comes with another 60 events sprouting up to supplement the game: Radio 1 is hosting a weekend in Hackney and is charging a grand total of £0 for 100,000 lucky goers. The versatile line up seems to take Glastonbury’s absence with an appeal to many musical appetites with acts ranging from Rhianna to Enter Shikari, Ed Sheeran to DeadMau5.
Despite these issues, I for one hope that festivals do not die out and hope that they may recover the spirit that is currently dwindling. The magic that was Glastonbury in the 90’s may have gone, where Oasis and Blur fought for control and instead of spending a fifth of your loan on a ticket one could just climb through a bush, but we as a generation can bring our ingenuity too. And by that I don’t mean Justin Bieber and a rise in unemployment, but bringing something new to the musical table. Music has forever changed and adapted to its society and, therefore, so must its festivals.