Boardmasters Seeks 12,000 Capacity Boost


Boardmasters, Cornwall’s own surf and music festival, has shared details of its licensing application which has now been submitted to Cornwall Council. If granted, the new licence will allow Boardmasters to increase capacity from next summer, in turn increasing the economic impact for Cornwall, creating more jobs and opportunities for more direct contracts for businesses in the area as well as scope for even bigger music artists. Boardmasters saw sell-out success in 2023 with greater demand than ever before. Headliners Lorde, Liam Gallagher (UK festival exclusive) and Florence + The Machine were amongst the hundreds of artists who took to the stage with 2024’s line-up to be announced soon.

At present, Boardmasters is a 53,000 capacity festival (including on site 3,000 staff), established as one of the most exciting live music events in the UK, attracting festival goers from across the country to the South West to explore all that it has to offer. It is proposed that the capacity will increase to 58,000 in 2024 (a number which covers both attendees and the thousands of working staff who ensure the smooth running of the festival each year) and 65,000 in 2025. At Fistral Beach, where the Boardmasters OPEN surf competition takes place, attracting the biggest names in international professional surfing as well as tens of thousands of attendees, capacity will remain at 22,000.

Andrew Topham, Boardmasters Festival founder said, “We have exciting and ambitious plans for Boardmasters and under the proposal, we would be able to take the festival to the next level. That means even bigger artists from all over the world, even more content for our attendees to enjoy, greater economic impact locally, more jobs as we increase staffing numbers and much more. Operationally, it would allow us to further elevate festival facilities, create more space, and enable us to continue to invest in our industry leading safeguarding work. Boardmasters is proud to be a part of Cornwall, generating millions each year for the County, as well as fundraising efforts through the Boardmasters Foundation which contributes to local charities and organisations. We look forward to the consideration of all of the relevant parties and thank residents whose feedback we value greatly. As always, we will continue our work to produce a world-class festival in Cornwall.”

Boardmasters has taken proactive measures in the application process in full consultation with the safety advisory group, which has been underway since September 2022. Local residents and businesses were invited to meet with festival organisers earlier this year, with feedback taken and questions answered during a two-day drop in session, as part of a thorough public consultation process. Since then, the team has taken all feedback, learnings and successes to create a proposal for submission to Cornwall Council. Working with expert consultants covering crowd management, traffic management and more – including Spalding Associates, Avalon Planning, SLR Consulting, Vectos and Joynes Nash Acoustic Consultants. The festival has assessed in full the viability for growth, addressing any challenges and identifying areas for opportunity including a preliminary ecological appraisal, BNG Assessment and biodiversity management plan, Heritage Statement of planned area, traffic and flood risk assessment and a noise impact assessment. Now, in November 2023, the licence will be submitted to Cornwall council for consideration.

Cllr Louis Gardner, Cabinet Member and Portfolio Holder for the Economy and Cornwall Councillor Newquay Central & Pentire commented, “Boardmasters injects a significant economic boost into Newquay, attracting thousands of visitors who spend on accommodation, dining and in local businesses. This influx helps to support and sustain the local economy, providing opportunities and fostering growth. Furthermore, the festival’s unique fusion of music and surfing showcases Newquay as a vibrant and diverse destination. This exposure helps promote the town as more than just a traditional seaside resort, enticing a broader range of visitors and in turn, investors. Boardmasters also contributes to the community by giving back, through The Boardmasters Foundation, through initiatives and support, enhancing the town’s social fabric. Its eco-conscious efforts align with Cornwall’s commitment to sustainability, reflecting positively on the town’s environmental awareness. In essence, Boardmasters Festival brings economic benefits, cultural diversity and an increased sense of social responsibility to Newquay, making it a significant asset to the town’s development and national reputation.”

Each year, Boardmasters commissions an independent report; a complete view of the impact of the festival both economically and environmentally. The festival spends £2.1m with local suppliers to stage the event, equating to approximately 321  jobs being supported in Cornwall by this investment. Boardmasters is a major economic driver for Cornwall, with the event bringing £40m into the local economy in 2022 alone. What’s more, 40% of suppliers and traders increased their level of staff with 67% employed form Cornwall, contributing to an additional £2.1 million in spend with Cornish suppliers. *This evaluation was conducted by The South West Research Company at Boardmasters 2022.

Olly Monk, Councillor for Newquay Trenance said, “Vision Nine, the organisers of Boardmasters have always prioritised producing the best possible festival. The growth plans are exciting, particularly in our hard current economic climate, when the creation of additional jobs, larger contracts for Cornish business and more tourism to fuel our economy are hugely important for Newquay and Cornwall. We look forward to working with Vision Nine on the plans. The Boardmasters festival is the highlight for our youth in Cornwall and its viable future is of the utmost importance for the whole of Cornwall.”

Drew Creek, Deputy Mayor of Newquay and Green Party Councillor for Newquay Central & Pentire said, “Boardmasters is such a huge jewel in the crown of Newquay in the summertime, we are so privileged to be able to access worldwide artists such as Florence + The Machine, Kings of Leon and George Ezra to name a few, as well as the world’s highest ranked surfers at the competition on Fistral Beach. Whilst we know it causes locals some limited disturbance it brings in £40 million to the wider economy of Cornwall and supports Newquay businesses each and every year. The Boardmasters Foundation does lots for the community in Newquay including the upcoming extension to the skatepark, donating to all local schools and supporting local community groups. I look forward to working closely with the team to ensure we make this the greatest and most sustainable festival in the UK.”

Mark Warren, Newquay Business Improvement District (BID) Manager, said, “Boardmasters is a mammoth annual gift to Newquay.  A significant number of local businesses experience their most busy and profitable week of the year during the festival. This year, as a BID we were delighted to be working collaboratively with Boardmasters to drive additional awareness, footfall and sales to a number of our businesses via the Boardmasters app.  We were also providing advice to all our businesses about how they could optimise the opportunities with Boardmasters festivalgoers. Given this mutually beneficial relationship, if and when challenges occurred during the week, we were able to immediately connect directly with the organisers and collectively and proactively provide swift, on-the-ground solutions.Going forward, we’re creating even more opportunities to allow Newquay businesses and organisations to benefit. We wholeheartedly support the Boardmasters’ application for a careful, and sustainable growth plan, with increased attendees and staff numbers, and are delighted to continually provide a two-way consultation between the event and our brilliant Newquay BID businesses.”

Boardmasters is also widely recognised for its ongoing commitment to the local area including the Boardmasters Foundation. The foundation was created out of a desire to give back and support the culture and surrounding communities that are at the heart of the festival and since it began in 2017, has donated over £436,000 to hundreds of organisations, schools, charities and businesses in the region. The foundation this year springboarded a new scheme with The Schools Consent Project which, through essential funding, was able to work with Boardmasters to bring consent workshops to secondary school students in the South West – a project set to expand even further into 2024. As well as this, the festival partnered with It Happens Education to support parents and guardians through webinar sessions, enabling them with the tools to have positive conversations with their young people ahead of attending their first festival. Boardmasters’ work with The Schools Consent Project is shortlisted for the Community Impact Award at the UK Festival Awards taking place this December