The Show Must Go On Report

The Show Must Go On report (November 2015) was conceived as a festival industry response to the Paris climate change talks in 2015. The report brings together all known UK research and analyses the most comprehensive datasets available on the environmental impact of festivals.

The report aims to:

  • Outline the environmental impacts of the festival industry in an accessible format.
  • Provide a robust basis for an industry-wide approach to reducing environmental impacts.
  • Promote action through the Festival Vision:2025 Pledge — A commitment from festivals to meeting the UK national target of a 50% reduction in green house gas emissions by 2025.
 Download The Show Must Go On report PDF HERE.

The report, based on 279 UK summer music festivals, finds that the industry is responsible for approximately:

  • 20 kilotonnes of C02e annually (onsite emissions)
  • 100 kilotonnes C02e annually, including audience travel
  • 23,500 tonnes waste
  • 5 million litres of diesel consumption

Also that:

  • Environmental responsibility is important to festivalgoers (according to audience survey data).
  • 5% of UK festivals are formally engaged with an environmental certification scheme.
  • Typical recycling rates are likely to be lower than 32%.
  • Energy is typically 65% of a festival’s onsite C02e footprint.
  • Waste is typically 35% of a festival’s onsite C02e footprint.
  • When including audience travel, onsite emissions are typically 20% of total festival-related emissions and audience travel up to 80%.
  • There are significant blind spots for data on contractor and artists travel.

80% of festival organisers participating in the Industry Green Manifesto Survey (May 2015) stated that, ‘they are committed to improving performance,’ and that, ‘the industry should work together towards shared standards.’

The top five priorities put forward by UK festival organisers, in order of priority are:

1 Sustainable approaches to energy.
2 Standard approach to serve-ware and packaging.
3 Use of reusable cups.
4 A standard approach to waste management systems.
5 Sustainable travel policies.

Through modelling carbon impact scenarios for different reduction measures, and exploring precedents, the report finds that the industry can realistically reduce its annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% within 10 years through incremental changes to:

  • Reduce diesel consumption by 50% through efficiency and alternatives.
  • Achieve 55% recycling rates. 

  • Increase car occupancy and shared transport options.

Fear of increased costs, lack of internal resources and the time to make changes, along with lack of expertise in sustainable approaches are the three most common reasons for festivals not adopting sustainable practices. When asked what support would help festivals organisers to make changes, the three areas of focus put forward were:

  • Training for the management team. 

  • Opportunities to share and exchange knowledge with 
other organisers.
  • Case studies showing how practices have improved sustainability. 


The report launches the Festival Vision:2025 Pledge which aims to bring together those festivals who wish to take action. Please consider joining the growing number of committed festival organisers by signing the Festival Vision:2025 pledge.

Download the full Show Must Go On report HERE.