A summer to forget – the economic impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 festival season…

If 2020 were a music festival, it would be a forgettable, rain-soaked mudfest with no headline acts, overflowing toilets and a barrel-load of p*ssed off punters.

The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with this year’s events calendar, with pretty much all festivals being initially postponed and then cancelled outright, as governments scrambled to maintain the health and wellbeing of their respective populations.

Music network Viberate, which launched the Sick Festivals platform earlier this year to enable music fans to keep track of cancelled events, has undertaken apiece of research on the 2020 festival season (click here to download), tracking the number of fans who were unable to attend events, the estimated ticket loss, the direct economic impact, and the correlation between economic impact and festival size.


It found that the Netherlands was the most affected country, with 121 cancelled or postponed events. The USA was next, registering 90 cancelled or postponed events, followed by the UK (86), Germany (84) and France (80).

In total, more than 750 music festivals were affected worldwide by COVID-19. The most-affected festivals were those planned between March and May, immediately after the announcement of the pandemic. As the summer drew on, however, that optimism largely declined.


According to Viberate, some 13.2 million music fans are unable to attend music festivals around the world this year – this loss, however doesn’t just stem from the lack of ticket sales, as the direct economic impact also affects other businesses, including food and drink vendors, merchandise sales and other on-site activities.

The estimated direct economic impact of this year’s cancellations is valued at $16.8 billion (€14.8 billion), while the loss in ticket sales is around $5.1 billion (€4.5 billion).


Viberate believes that two essential approaches are necessary in order to get the music festival industry back on track – firstly, the sector should seek to make fewer risky decisions and rely more on data when planning an event, given that budgets are likely to be squeezed in the coming years.

Secondly, clear and agile communication with music fans is key, and organisers should consider developing a mobile app, which eases promotional and communication efforts.

For more information on Viberate, click here.

[Methodology: Using its Sick Festivals portal, Viberate’s data science team collected and exported the entire festival database, following set parameters: festival name (a strict “one festival = one page” rule, which means there are no duplicate entries), country (festival location), size (sorting festivals in five different size classes, based on the number of visitors), and date (time of festival duration). Sampling methods were then used, gathering available data on the average ticket price and the average number of visitors, while additional statistical methods were employed to eliminate anomalies and level out the data.]

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