Golden-age over as financial pressures force many smaller events to cancel. Paul Bignell reports
The happy daze is coming to an end, it seems. After a decade of ever increasing numbers of music festivals and ever expanding crowds, it appears the party is winding down, with 12 festivals already cancelled this year.
Everything from child-friendly boutique weekends to full-scale heavy rock events are feeling the chill wind. And while the smaller events have been among the first to fall, large-scale former successes like Sonisphere and the Big Chill have also gone.
The two most recent casualties have been the Cloud 9 festival in Cheshire and Winchester's Golden Down. These, along with the Rough Beats festival in Yorkshire, were cancelled last month, with Cloud 9's organisers saying that "financial pressures" are having a severe effect on small independent festivals.
Sonisphere, a three-day festival in the idyllic surroundings of Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire, announced that it was cancelling, due to the "weak economy and some bad luck". Its normal audience of rock fans will miss the chance to see some of the biggest names in music, such as Queen, Kiss, and Faith No More. The festival, which is also staged in several other European countries, has had to cancel in Greece, Turkey, Italy and Sweden.
But it's not just rock music fans who will be bereft of a place to party this year. The Big Chill dance festival cancelled when 2012 had barely begun, its organisers citing "artist availability" close to the Olympics as a determining factor.
Even those festivals that are going ahead this year are admitting to having difficulties. The veteran festival organiser Vince Power last week confirmed slow ticket sales for his Hop Farm Festival, despite boasting Bob Dylan as a headline act. …