Statement on the future of VegfestUK Bristol

29th September 2018

The organisers of the annual vegan festival VegfestUK in Bristol have announced that they will not be hosting the event in 2019 or 2020.

This year’s VegfestUK Bristol took place at Ashton Gate stadium (home of Bristol City and Bristol Bears) on May 26-27, drawing around 9,000 people overall and playing host to a wide variety of stalls, talks, music, cookery demos and kids activities. “Despite plenty of positives from the unprecedented facilities and generally good and valuable feedback,” said the organisers, “the biggest stumbling block for us is making this event self-sustainable on a financial level. This has been the case for 15 years now ever since our inception back in 2003. The deficit incurred at this year’s event was higher than ever before. With considerable further rising costs to absorb, the only option for 2019 would be to increase both stall prices and admission fees considerably. We know from experience that neither of these are valid options. Reluctantly, therefore, we have to put a halt on our Bristol event for 2019 and 2020 and reassess our plans for the future of this event.”

Photo credit: 11 Eleven Photography

The widespread availability of vegan food in multiple outlets, coupled with the explosion of vegan events across the UK, including 4 big vegan events in Bristol, 2 in Bath, 3 in Cardiff and multiple vegan events in almost every surrounding town, are also factors in the decision to bring to an end 16 successive annual events in Bristol from the Vegfest team. ‘’The explosion of veganism recently has been huge, which is something many of us have been working towards for decades. But feedback is also clearly indicating that smaller stallholders especially are bearing the brunt of so many vegan events, which dilutes attendances, coupled with an explosion in vegan options in supermarkets, which dilutes spend ” added the organisers, “and whilst we are of course thrilled to see the widespread availability of vegan options and the huge increase in vegan events, on a business level it’s made it even harder to sustain a show of this nature in Bristol. Raising stall prices isnt an option.”

“It’s also true that Bristol has a long-standing tradition of free events, and as a result, people are sometimes reluctant to pay to attend community events in Bristol. Its traditionally been a challenging place to promote events, and many great community events, like Ashton Court and Brisfest, have come and gone.

“We are proud of our 15-year track record and are proud if not sad to go out intact. Our business model works well in Brighton, and even better in London, which continues to go from strength to strength. But Bristol, for multiple reasons, it’s never been easy.”

“Of course we’d like to thank our loyal swathe of supporters – ranging from sponsors, stallholders, visitors, contractors, media partners, volunteers – everybody who has lent their support to make this great event continue for so long. We would never be where we are in terms of being the UK’s biggest vegan festivals without your backing.”

Photo credit: 11 Eleven Photography

The organisers would also like to extend big thanks to Ashton Gate stadium for their hospitality and support throughout the planning of the 2018 maiden Vegfest at this modern venue, which won the Silver Award in the Stadium Events and Hospitality Awards shortly following the event. ‘’Ashton Gate team have been great – and they now have Take That and Rod Stewart playing in May for 2019. We wish them well and every continued success – it’s a top class venue and an events team to match.’’

Thanks are due too to Bristol City Council for their support for the event at the previous location of The Amphitheatre. “We had some well – documented issues with the Council in 2017 – but that doesn’t overshadow the long-standing support and assistance that the Council, along with Bristol Harbourside, and numerous highly valued departments and services such as the Police, the Fire officers, Ambulance, Traffic control, Licensing and suchlike that work so hard to ensure top quality events happen safely in Bristol, and we are very grateful for the support we have received over the past 15 years. Thankyou all.”

Meanwhile, VegfestUK continues its successful events at Olympia London on October 27th 28th 2018 and the Brighton Centre on March 23rd 24th 2019, and at Olympia for 26th 27th October 2019, with dates already confirmed for this. Plans for a major new event in 2020 are already underway and an announcement in early 2019 is expected. For the latest updates from VegfestUK, visit www.vegfest.co.uk or sign up to our monthly bulletins  https://vegfest.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=c5285eedb35360b438ffdfcc8&id=a3af4c5bc3