How much does the average Sidmouth FokWeek visitor spend?

Sidmouth FolkWeek. Hammersmith Morris at the Dance Spectacular. Photo: Paul Strange.

Sidmouth FolkWeek. Hammersmith Morris at the Dance Spectacular. Photo: Paul Strange. - Credit: Archant

Director gives insight into business behind popular festival

Sidmouth folk festival 2016. Ref shs 31-16TI 5703. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth folk festival 2016. Ref shs 31-16TI 5703. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

FolkWeek organisers have given an insight into the business behind ‘one of the best festivals on the planet’.

Director John Braithwaite revealed that, while proceeds from ticket sales are up, grants are down due to the ‘difficult climate’ - although profits have risen overall.

Appearing before Sidmouth Town Council – one of the extravaganza’s loyal supporters – he said some 60,000 people visit the town over the course of the week, and they have money to spend.

Research this year found 40 per cent of customers had attended the festival 10 times or more, another 40 per cent had been three to 10 times, and seven per cent were first-timers.


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Two thirds of customers stayed in Sidmouth – and their average spend was £600 each, not including what they paid for tickets. This is £150 more per-person than Mr Braithwaite had thought.

He said some ‘opportunist’ residents had tried to cash in by offering parking and undercutting the rugby and cricket clubs - and this had hit the sporting venues’ takings. But Mr Braithwaite added: “It’s not something we can do anything about, except to ask them [the residents] to support the festival.”

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He told councillors that FolkWeek is well supported, especially by its major sponsors – who see their hotels, shops and restaurants bustling for the duration.

There will be some ‘cost pressures’ in 2017, but Mr Braithwaite said there is never an easy year for festival organisers. The event will continue to reach out to a younger audience.

Mr Braithwaite was pleased to report that renowned radio presenter Mike Harding now ranks FolkWeek as ‘one of the best festivals on the planet’. He recalled that another customer said: “It’s so unlike Glastonbury that calling them both festivals insults the English language.”

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