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Fife’s The Big Tent music festival cancelled

The Proclaimers helped make Fifes Big Tent Festival successful. Picture: Neil Doig

The Proclaimers helped make Fifes Big Tent Festival successful. Picture: Neil Doig

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

SCOTLAND’S biggest eco-festival has been permanently shelved, organisers said yesterday.

The Big Tent Festival was Fife’s largest festival, eventually drawing more than 11,000 people to the Falkland estate after being launched in 2006.

But this year’s event has been cancelled and it will not return in the foreseeable future.

Organisers said it had become increasingly difficult to stage the event – billed as “Scotland’s greenest festival” – and raise enough funding, due to its scale and popularity. The Proclaimers, Rosanne Cash, King Creosote and Aberfeldy were among acts to appear at the event, usually staged the last weekend in July.

But the event had been postponed while a major review was carried out, with organisers admitting they had “almost become victims of our own success”.

The Big Tent Festival was launched by the Falkland Centre for Stewardship in response to the staging of the G8 summit at Gleneagles, and quickly grew.

Although live music was at the core of its programme, the family friendly event also included cycling, walking, storytelling, arts and crafts, and local food and drink showcases. A string of improvements was ordered for the last event to boost its environmental credentials, including the introduction of compost toilets and solar showers at the campsite. The charity running the event, which has won financial backing from Fife Council and national funding body EventScotland, has now pulled the plug on the festival to concentrate on the smaller-scale events it runs the rest of the year.

More than 370 festivals are currently held across Scotland and this year’s calendar is busier than ever, with events to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, 100th anniversary of the death of conservationist John Muir and 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge – all of which are being promoted under the banner of Homecoming 2014.

Rock Ness, the annual musical festival staged on the banks of Loch Ness, was hit by poor ticket sales last year, while organisers of T in the Park, the country’s biggest outdoor event, recently won permission to extend its running time to 1am on the Saturday after being left with several thousand unsold tickets in 2013.

However, Ninian Stuart, chairman of Falkland Estate Trust and estate steward at the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, denied the level of competition had triggered the decision to wind up the Big Tent Festival.

He said: “The event was still very much about looking at what people in Scotland can do about environmental issues and how we live our lives. The amount of work involved in organising the event as it grew in scale and the challenge raising the funds to meet all the costs involved in it were huge.

“We only had a couple of thousand people at the first event but the last two both had more than 11,000 over the weekend. We are a very modest-sized organisation and the event had grown very big very quickly, to the extent that it took up most of our year to organise it.

“We had built up a lot of momentum and a very loyal audience. We know a lot of people want us to do another festival. But it would have to be a lot bigger and be more expensive, and we don’t want to do that.”

A spokesman for EventScotland said the Big Tent Festival had been funded through its national programme for three years initially from 2006, with an additional grant to support its food and drink event in 2010.

A separate eco-festival, The Outsider, was launched in the Rothiemurcus Estate, near Aviemore, as part of the Year of Highland Culture celebrations in 2007, but was shelved in the following two years due to poor ticket sales.

 

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