Top 10 largest music festivals in the UK

16 June 2017

Music festivals attract roughly 14 million visitors to the UK every year, alongside the most popular artists from around the globe. The most popular festival remains the world-renowned Glastonbury, while the best value for money in terms of cost per-day or per weekend are offered by mid-level competitors like Boomtown and Wireless.

Music festivals blend the joy of individual performances with a collective  atmosphere of a cross-section of different fans. Many music festivals offer a unique theme and a genre which allows for people of all music tastes to come together and see their favourite acts live. 

According to data gathered by UK Music, the British live music industry as a whole attracts just under 30 million music fans, with overseas music tourism growing by 16% since last year. The outstanding concert halls and venues generate nearly £1 billion in revenue. While over the past decade, it emerged that 40% of music venues in London alone were closed, the live music still boasts massive potential then, and the UK government finds itself increasingly called upon to invest into one of the UK’s strongest sectors. As things stand though, the future of British music rests in the hands of the emerging talents, both in the music industry and in the business aspect.

The 10 largest festivals in the UK

Largest Festivals

The world renowned Glastonbury unsurprisingly continues to top the charts in attendance and profitability, and is ranked amongst the best music festivals in the world. Since the first festival in 1970, Glastonbury has generated £325 million from ticket sales alone. During that time, the price of one ticket has risen from £1 to £243 today, but the festival still remains the most popular in the UK. The total amount of people who have attended Glastonbury stands at 2.8 million, with the festival’s ticket capacity of 120,000 selling out within 25 minutes last year. 

Download Festival stands at second place holding the position as UK’s top rock event with a capacity of 110,000, with V festival sitting third. V festival is associated with the more popular bands and artists, and boasts a capacity of 90,000, while the growing popularity of Electronic Dance Music means Creamfields has risen onto the major festival scene with 70,000. Boomtown has also benefitted from the growth of less mainstream music, with the music and arts festival now hosting 50,000 attendees each year who look to access its greater variety of genres, including drum and bass, ‘old school’ jungle and UK garage. 

Another UK favourite was T in the Park, with a capacity of 85,000, which was often referred to as Scotland’s own version of Leeds and Reading festival. However, for the first time since 1994, the event took a hiatus after 2016, due in part to the presence of a rare osprey nest in the park, as well as three drug related deaths, an alleged rape, and the circulation of green designer drugs containing PMA at last year’s weekend. Head organisers have revealed that T in the Park may return at a new location next year, at which point it will likely become an 18+ event to try and curb the recent wave of troubles at the event.

The number of festivals in the UK continues to grow at a rapid pace, a development that fits well with the growing demand for a UK-based experience. It therefore comes as no surprise that a staggering £1.1 billion out of a £42.3 billion events sector comes from festivals and culture events as 3.7 million festivals attendances can be accredited to the UK. Weekend festival tickets cost approximately £200 or is most instances more, which excludes transport, food, tents and beverages one would normally invest in when attending a festival. 15% of festival-goers spent £250, which comes as no surprise considering a pint of beer costs £4.50 to £4.80 at Glastonbury. The difference in pricing was also present in ticket costs, which Glastonbury also topped.

Ticket prices of the largest UK festivals

Value for money

While popularity and capacity undoubtedly had some bearing on the value of ticket price, other factors also played a role. Weekend ticket prices for the major UK music fests also varied to some extent due to event length – with Bestival seemingly charging disproportionately for a festival of its size without considering that it runs for four days, rather than the standard three, while the most expensive weekend pass of £243 Glastonbury pays for five days. Meanwhile Boomtown looks to provide the best value for money in terms of ticket price and length, selling tickets spanning the four day event for £126.25. 

Prestige pricing may well also have impacted on this, with Boomtown charging a proportionally low amount for what is largely seen as a more fringe-event, while established mainstream V Festival and Reading and Leeds charged considerably more for a day less of music.

In terms of single-day value meanwhile, analysing the cost of each event’s Saturday day tickets – the most expensive as they are generally the centre-piece day – further demonstrates the weight prestige can add to a price-tag. Glastonbury and Download, as the largest festivals with access to the most popular acts, each charge £85 for a Saturday ticket. Latitude meanwhile present the largest anomaly, with the largest proportional gap between capacity (35,000), and daily cost, charging just 50p less than Glastonbury at £84.50.


Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.