Festivalgoers Express Support for More Sustainable Events

Shambala Festival. Photo credit: George Harrison

CGA has conducted research into festivalgoers’ level of demand for more sustainable events, as well as their preferred modes of transport to festivals.

Surveying approximately 6500 festivalgoers in the October 2018 UK Festival Awards Census, the findings reveal that 72% of festivalgoers claim to care about the environmental impact of festivals, although only 24% said they’d be more likely to attend a festival if its carbon footprint were demonstrably lower than its competitors’.

The public’s prioritisation of environmental policies overshadows other ethics-based issues, such as a festival’s philanthropic efforts (40%) and commitment to social justice (22%).

Perhaps owing to the ever-increasing abundance of media coverage pertaining to climate change, as well as the escalating efforts of direct action groups such as Extinction Rebellion, a clear majority of festivalgoers said that they cared more about sustainability in 2018 than they had the year prior. There was a slight but notable gender imbalance when it came to the extent that those worries had heightened, with 67% of males expressing an increase in concern, as opposed to 76% of females. When broken down by age range, 60% of 18-24 year olds and 61% of 25-34 year olds reported a developing sense of eco-consciousness, contrasted against 47% of over 55s.

Contrary to received wisdom on how indifference towards the climate comes with age, CGA’s findings demonstrate that older consumers place a higher expectation on festival organisers to reduce their event’s environmental impact, and care more about the level of waste a festival leaves in its wake. Ninety two per cent of over 55s agreed with the phrase ‘I expect all of the festivals that I attend to tackle their environmental impacts’, falling to 78% of the 18-24 range. Eighty two per cent of over 55s are troubled by the wastage associated with festivals, whereas only 71% of 18-24s say the same.

Eighty four per cent of festivalgoers travel to festivals by car – with 45% of those surveyed sharing with two or more people, 30% with one other person, and 9% driving alone. Twenty six per cent travelled by train, and 12% by coach. Ten per cent walked, indicating a small but not insignificant affinity for local festivals.

Younger consumers are more likely to opt for public transport; 40% of 18-24 year olds travelled by train, a number that declines linearly with age, resulting in only 13% of the 55+ cohort doing the same. It is unclear whether or not this relates to each age range’s level of concern for the environment; it may be down to lifestyle factors such as prioritising comfort & convenience, plus the likelihood of having the means to drive. All in all, 53% of festivalgoers estimate that they travel between 0 – 100 miles for festivals each year.

CGA will be presenting further findings from their research on this subject at The Showman’s Show on October 16, as part of the Festival Vision:2025 session, as well as at the AFO Conference on November 11.