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Greenbelt Festival hails new ticket pricing

18 August 2023

50th anniversary festival will take place next week at Boughton House, Northamptonshire

Mark Kensett

Festivalgoers at Greenbelt last year

Festivalgoers at Greenbelt last year

GREENBELT’s 50th anniversary festival will take place next week in the grounds of Boughton House, in Northamptonshire — the first time that festivalgoers have been asked to “pay what you can afford” for a ticket.

The new ticket-pricing system was unexpected, given that the organisers estimated last year that ticket prices for the 2023 festival would need to rise by 18 per cent to cover rising costs. These included a 39-per-cent increase in production costs compared to pre-Covid figures.

“This simple increase in prices across the board would potentially have put even our cheapest tickets out of the reach of many,” Greenbelt’s creative director, Paul Northup, said. “So we decided to rethink the way we did our ticketing.”

The organisers decided to ditch the tiered pricing model that it had previously used, in which cheaper “early-bird” tickets are initially available, but then rise in price as the festival approaches.

Instead, they adopted a “pay-what-you-can-afford” model. Since tickets for the 2023 festival went on sale last September, Greenbelters have been free to choose one of three ticket prices: “Supported” (£150), “Standard” (£190), and “Supporter” (£230). Concessions are still available: there are £100 tickets for, for example, students and those in receipt of benefits; under 18s can pay £70; and carers receive free entry.

For the 2022 festival, under the old system, a standard adult ticket first went on sale for £165 but rose to £210 by the time the festival began.

Mr Northup said that festival organisers had been “overwhelmed by the generosity of its audience”. Nearly 20 per cent festivalgoers have bought the most expensive “Supporter” tickets, which has enabled organisers to keep the cheapest “Supported” tickets priced at £150.

The festival is due to begin and end 24 hours earlier this year than it usually does: the site will open at midday on Thursday 24 August, with the programme beginning on Friday 25 August; the festival will end on Sunday 27 August.

The musical line-up includes the veteran Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn; the folk duo Indigo Girls; the American singer-songwriter Ezra Furman; and the British singer Laura Mvula.

Among the speakers are Gordon Brown; the theologian Professor Anthony G. Reddie; the musician and producer Brian Eno; the writer and poet Cole Arthur Riley (Feature, 1 April 2022); and the chief executive of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson.


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