Will the Olympics affect all our beloved music festivals?

By Kayleigh Herbertson

With news that the Big Chill festival is taking a year off due to difficulties organising around the Olympic games set for this summer, could this be a downcast year for British festivals?

It seems that once we won the bid for the biggest sports show on Earth, many have been queuing up to take note of the cost this even may have on the UK, both financially and culturally.

Andrew Lloyd Webber came out recently with his views on the subject recently in an interview with the BBC, stating that the Olympics will create a ‘bloodbath’ for London theatres and is already hitting ticket sales hard.

Is the cancellation of the Big Chill festival the first in what may be a long line of falterings as many Brits look to the Olympics for their entertainment this year?

Well, certainly the Big Chill had difficulties in booking the acts they wanted, citing “artist availability” as the main cause for taking a year off. They also had thought of changing the date of the festival but soon found resistance from their fans.

The organisers are hoping to put on a smaller, indoor event if this proves to be viable but is it possible that festivals will be hurt by the Olympics like the theatre is already finding?

Personally, I think this is unlikely as the percentage of theatre goers is considerably smaller than festival fans. Only four per cent of the population attend the theatre (and no, panto doesn’t count, we’ve been told) so any fluctuation in ticket sales is going to be felt hard by theatres across the country and especially in London.

You only have to look at the huge list of festivals in the UK has to know that the British public truly do like a good outdoor music event.

And let’s not forget where we live – those from America and other sunny countries would be staggered by pictures from Glastonbury, with lad and ladies up to their calves in mud and singing along to their favourite bands.

If we can’t be discouraged from outdoor events by our country’s own bad weather then I’d like to think there’s hope for our festivals surviving the Olympics.

This may be more difficult for less established festivals in London, who will obviously be competing directly with the big event over the summer but those who are into festivals love them for a very different reason than those who love theatre.

A good weekend festival with your friends is an irreplaceable event and creates amazing memories. Not to say that the Olympics won’t do this as well but there’s a great difference between a huge public event and what can be a more tailored one to have with just you and your social circle, with the music you love.


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