17 Jun 2011

Music Festivals: A New International Trend of Tourism

When I reminisce about the British summer, I can’t help but think of unpredictable weather patterns, strawberries, wasps, beer gardens, patchy sunburn, and a bi-annual disappointment with the England football team. But one thing that I love more than most is the music festival season. With Glastonbury little over a week away now, I couldn’t help but get excited about the prospect of an amazing summer of live music.

Yet, in the last few years, I have been going further afield to enjoy my festival kicks. It’s not that I don’t like British festivals, but with a foreign festival, you can get the same music experience, but with better scenery and far superior weather.

In recent years I’ve been to Benicassim, Primavera Sound and Sonar festivals, all in Spain. And I’m not the only one heading abroad. Last year my colleague Michael went to Soundwave in Croatia. He says that he loved the fact that he could sunbath with a cool beer, and then take a dip in the beautiful waters of the Adriatic, before watching Cinematic Orchestra, Zero 7, and DJ Format.

He also recently got back from Snowbombing in Austria, where he saw Fatboy Slim, Shy FX, and Beardyman perform in the Alpine village of Mayrhoffen. According to Michael, the glorious combination of skiing, the striking Zillertal Valley, and live music was enough to make that festival a truly incredible experience.

So we have now both indepently become music tourists. With our last trips barely over, we’ve both already started to plan holidays for next year so that we can sample another fine European festival.

And we are not the only ones, as music tourism is a rapidly growing industry. In 2009, there were 7.7 million individual visits to UK events, which resulted in £1.4 billion being spent. This, according to UK Music, led to a positive contribution of £869 million to the British economy.

Interestingly, almost a fifth of total income came from oversees music tourists, who, on average, spend 25% more than non-music tourists. This has resulted in UK Music calling on the government to implement a live music tourism strategy to boost the number of visitors to the UK.

It seems to be a good plan, as the revenue from live music events will be able to sustain 19,700 jobs this year.

So if you have any plans to attend a festival this year, have a great time. And let’s hope for a bit of sun at Glastonbury this year.


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