Down To The Woods Canceled

Ticketholders for the Down To The Woods festival Aug. 13-14 have the option to go to Kendal Calling instead. The UK fest was to feature Primal Scream and Chase & Status at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield, County Durham.

Down to the Woods was supposed to premiere this summer as the successor to Hardwick Live. However, “due to the present financial climate and current ticket sales a decision has been made to not proceed with this year’s inaugural Down To The Woods Festival,” a statement on the festival website reads.

Weekend tickets can be swapped for Kendal Calling July 28-31 instead. They can also choose to get a full refund. Pollstar spoke with promoter Andy Smith, founder and director of From the Fields, about the ticket swap deal.

It was inspired by the case of Forgotten Fields, a festival Smith was forced to pull the plug on two months ago. Ticket sales just didn’t increase with the festival’s size, which had aimed to become bigger and better compared than the premiere in 2015. Additionally, expenditures were rising to the point it wasn’t financially viable anymore. “The main thing for us was to make sure that the artists and fans were happy. So we did a ticket swap with Standon Calling, which had similar artists on the bill,” he said.

The deal doesn’t make sense financially. Tickets for Down to the Woods cost £99, while Kendal Calling stands at £135. It has been selling out since its inception 11 years ago, starting with 900 visitors and moving up to 25,000 this year. It’s still a good deal for Kendal Calling, which takes place in the UK’s Lake District.

“It takes us to a new market,” Smith said. “We’ve always found it harder to sell in the North East than in the North West, where we’re based. If we can get people over here and show them what a great festival this is, maybe they’re more likely to come back in the future.

“There was a reason they chose [Down to the Woods] over others originally. Let’s hope we can win them round. We know we’ve got a brilliant festival. People just have to come experience it and they will come back.”

Besides that, “it’s always nice to help where possible.”

Down to the Woods is the latest festival not able to pay the costs involved in organizing such an event. Smith said that “costs do seem to be increasing more in the events industry, compared to other industries.”

He mentioned additional pressures such as “increasing policing costs year-on-year.” What was once part of an officer’s public duty now costs festival organizers up to £160 to £200 per person and hour.

Business rates are affecting people as well. “Previously, a lot of green fields festivals were exempt, because [they took place] on agricultural land. [Councils] decided to start targeting festivals. I know a few festivals that had bills of up to £200,000 for the past five years retrospectively.”