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'Superfans' keep UK festivals going

Article originally published on BBC News at on 8th August 2016.

A core group of "superfans" are the bedrock of the UK's festival scene, attending four or more events a year, research suggests.

They spend an average of £581 a year on music festivals, often opting for VIP passes or upgraded camping options.
Predominantly male, the "superfans" are also more likely than most consumers to buy music on CD or as downloads.
The results came from a survey of 504 UK residents, who had attended at least one festival in the last year.

What makes a 'superfan'?

According to ticketing website Eventbrite, which commissioned the survey, these "superfans" help to "drive the music festivals market", often recommending music and events to their friends.

They account for 28% of the festival-going audience, and more than half of them (54%) say they would be willing to attend an event alone.

On average, they spend £45 more per event than a casual fan, but their loyalty is not guaranteed: 46% say that festivals are becoming "too corporate".

Crowded market

There are more than 100 music festivals held in the UK every year, from the likes of Glastonbury and T In The Park, to smaller events such as the Cambridge Jazz Festival and Jamie Oliver's Big Feastival.

In total, 3.7 million people attend festivals every year, according to Music UK, accounting for more than 39,000 full-time jobs.

However, small profit margins and a crowded market have seen some events struggle. In the wet summer of 2012, 57 festivals were forced to cancel - with the likes of Oxegen and The Big Chill shutting their doors.

Although the rate of closures has slowed since then, several events - including the Temples festival in Bristol, Down To The Woods in Sedgefield and Forgotten Fields in Tunbridge Wells were called off this year; while Sonisphere failed to return from a planned hiatus in 2015.

The latest research offers some reassurance to organisers though, with 88% of respondents saying they planned to attend a festival again next year - with more than half of them saying they would go to more.

"It has been a challenging year for some festivals, with inclement weather conditions, general economic uncertainty following Brexit, rising expenditure and heightened security concerns," said Paul Reed, who runs the Association of Independent Festivals.

"This research illustrates that the sector remains buoyant, that festival promoters are resilient and will continue to craft unforgettable experiences for audiences, who are keen to return year on year to their favourite events."