NASS & Nozstock Highlight The Pressure On UK Festivals

Alex Avery
The closing ceremony at Nozstock The Hidden Valley 2018. (Picture by Alex Avery)

NASS & Nozstock The Hidden Valley aren’t the only two UK festivals forced to fold under the pressures of the post-pandemic economic reality, but they are two particularly painful losses, according to the UK’s independent festival association AIF.

Nozstock, across its 25-plus year history, has not just developed a reputation for overdelivering on what you’d expect from a 5,000-capacity boutique event in Herefordshire, England, but also for being one of the most family-friendly festivals of the UK.

However, the 26th edition 2024 will be the last ever. “After the losses incurred over COVID, straight into a cost-of-living crisis, the financial risk is becoming too great,” a statement from the festival’s promoters reads.

“Nozstock has always been a totally independent event, with a wide variety of entertainment on offer and although there are changes we could make to allow the festival to continue, the final product is something we don’t recognize and wouldn’t be the event you love,” it continues.

Q’s With Ella Nosworthy, Creative Director of Nozstock The Hidden Valley Festival

Following the news, AIF CEO John Rostron commented, “It’s incredibly sad to see Nozstock The Hidden Valley forced to close its gates for good as a direct result of the financial strain faced by many following significant COVID losses and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis. After almost three decades of great events, Nozstock has become a key fixture on the UK’s independent festival calendar, and this should serve as yet another alarm bell warning of the perilous situation that many in this cultural sector are facing.”

For NASS, which takes place at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, England, this year already marked the last edition. With its unique mix of live music, skateboarding, and tons more to discover, it used to be “a key gateway festival for many young people, its cancellation will have repercussions for the entire sector,” according to Rostron.

He reiterated the AIF’s call on government to review the VAT it charges on music festival ticket sales, and to lower the rate to 5% for an extended period to help support the recovery of the festival sector.

Nozstock and NASS aren’t isolated cases. When Pollstar last spoke with Rostron in September, more than 30 festivals, including one AIF member, didn’t make it to opening their gates in 2023.

He confirmed, that “the biggest reason is supply chain costs and the cost of living crisis. If I was issuing a statement about the live sector, I would be very careful to focus on the big successes, which has been stadium tours and big, major headline concerts. But but from a festival sector’s standpoint, that’s not been the case. It’s been a very challenging year. And that’s true of all our members, whether they sold out or not.”

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