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Festival Flux

Sam Slaughter, Junior Planner at FRUKT, takes a look at the big openings and closings on the UK festival circuit.

We at FRUKT are always keeping an eye on festivals. Our annual Field Work Report often puts the spotlight on festivals with the aim to uncover what’s going on, especially with brands.

Before the festival season we take stock of any that have moved location, changed their date, cancelled or opened with dramatic fanfare.

In the last few years there’s been an obvious uptick in the amount of festivals popping up and keeping track has become a game of whack a mole. This huge influx of festivals has sparked a debate over whether we’ve reached peak festival. In the US, SFX Entertainment certainly stoked the debate, after their huge EDM boom and bust. Nevertheless, in England, the constant up and down of the festival market, and the vast amount of change in ownership, makes it difficult to track its financial health. Live Nation, are most notably, acquiring and dominating the market with their recent purchases of Mama Group and Festival Republic.

We thought it’d been interesting to highlight the biggest changes to key festivals in 2017. Whether that’s closures, openings or new locations it helps to give us an indication on the overall well-being of the festival market.

​CLOSING

T in the Park closing After 23 huge years, T in the Park is cheerlessly coming to an end. It wasn’t the most glamourous festival in the world, but it was a long running classic and was loved by many Scottish music fans. Similar to the “Reading Festival” of Scotland, T was a rite of passage for youngsters. Sadly, the council enforced a change of location and the new site had major complications (one being a protected Osprey’s nest in the site) alongside a heavy-handed regulation that ultimately forced them to the pull the plug.

Wickerman festival closing It seems Scotland has taken a bit of a battering this year with Wickerman festival also coming to a sad end. Although 2016 was a fallow year, the organisers have now decided that it is truly and permanently over.

The announcement came two years after the early death of festival director and land owner of the incredible plot. Over 14 years the festival managed to bring some top acts to the rural area of Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, such as Nile Rodgers and Chic, Texas, Primal Scream and Stiff Little Fingers. Criticism was levelled at Wickerman for becoming increasingly commercial over the years, away from the epic pagan-style celebrations of burning the wicker on a Saturday night, but either way it had built up a very loyal following over the years.

EDC indefinitely postponed
Electric Daisy Carnival was known for unbelievable and breath-taking production. The sets, pyrotechnics and stages were insane, and its’ closure is a blow for EDM scene in the UK. Big name competitor festivals like Creamfields offered a more viable weekender. EDC was only a day festival with no camping option so traveling to Milton Keynes Bowl for a day proved difficult to keep people coming. Perhaps the level of production hadn’t been invested in to the same level as in the US, which ultimately led to its (possibly temporary) demise.

OPENING

TRNSMT festival opening
Ok yes T in the Park has closed, but the owners have started a new one! This time nearer Glasgow, in fact bang in the middle at Glasgow Green. It’s being dubbed as T in the Park’s little sister. Should we be interested? Well yes the line-up looks pretty great and varied (in the healthy way, not the random non-curated way), with big names such as Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, London Grammar and Rag’N’Bone Man.

Glastonbury’s announcement of a new festival in 2019?
Although still going ever strong, Glastonbury have announced a sister festival called Variety Bazaar. Perhaps to capitalise on the fallow year they have every 4th year. Or as a tactical manoeuvre that allows them to slowly transition away from their festival site. But does it signal a change in the wind? After 43 years of Glastonbury operating on just one site it certainly paints a new picture, it tells us that they want to gradually build a new brand, either to capitalise on the fallow year or for a long-term strategic move.

NEW LOCATION

Bestival has moved 
After a bit of a damp squib of a year in 2016 for Bestival, the organisers have decided to move onto the same site as Camp Bestival. With increased economies of scale, this is probably a sound move. It’ll save money for those who have to fork out for the ferry as well as the festival ticket. The new site in Lulworth, Dorset is an already known and loved site and it could definitely open up some exciting and refreshing new prospects for Bestival lovers.

NEW DATE

Lost Village has moved to the end of the summer
Going from one of the earliest festivals in the UK summer circuit to right at the back of August, no doubt the organisers have had enough of fearing the rain. It can make a huge difference to profits and obviously, visitor happiness. With Lost Village's new promo video and lineup just been announced it’s looking like they're kicking things on in 2017.