28th Jun, 2022

BREAKING: Coventry's Godiva Festival to charge entrance fee amid financial problems

Felix Nobes 20th May, 2019 Updated: 20th May, 2019

THE GODIVA Festival will charge an admission fee for all visitors – after the council’s massive overspend on last year’s event.

Coventry City Council has today announced tickets are to be introduced for the first time at this year’s festival after months of speculation.

A £2 ‘administration fee’ per day will be charged for each ticket, with under-5s entering for free.

The charge will end the much-loved 20-year three-day event’s history of being billed as the ‘UK’s biggest free festival’.

A £10 on-site parking charge will also be introduced.

It follows years of debate about potentially charging for the festival due to annual six-figure city taxpayer subsidies, in an era of cuts.

Council leaders have until now avoided introducing the charge, hoping for more sponsorship and other income-raising activities.

As we reported, the council spent more than four times its £150,000 budget for the festival last year, taking its total spending to £610,000.

Council bosses say the decision will help to ensure the annual event is delivered within budget.

This year, the council has outlined a ‘more realistic’ one time £379,000 budget allocation for the event.

Council chiefs also say the fee will cover the cost of the move to ticketing, which will enable them to better monitor crowds and ensure a safe event.

Rumours of a festival charge for ‘outsiders’ grew after the introduction of the GoCV loyalty card, giving Coventry residents discounts to the city’s attractions.

But few expected a blanket charge for all visitors.

Since its early years, visitor numbers have grown dramatically and now stand at around 120,000 people visiting over the three days.

A record crowd of almost 45,000 people were on the main field on Saturday evening of last year’s festival, the council says, adding to future security fears.

Last year’s event was estimated to generate £2.3million in economic activity by bringing tens of thousands of extra visitors to the city.

Andy Williams, Director of Business, Investment & Culture at Coventry City Council, said: “Introducing a small charge to help cover the administration for the tickets will enable us to improve safety and security for everyone, without compromising the affordability for all.

“At the same time, we do need to introduce other measures to relieve some of the financial pressures that come with delivering the much-loved festival. The funding challenges we face means that the council is not in a position where we can continue to deliver the event as it has been for the last 20 years.

“We have also been looking to attract more sponsors to the event as well as exploring the appetite for merchandising to see if that can also help to generate additional income.”

The Godiva Festival will take place on July 5 to 7 in the War Memorial Park.

Tickets are available at www.godivafestival.com/buytickets


Coventry council opposition leader Gary Ridley (Conservative) said: “It’s outrageous that Coventry people should have to pay to enter the Godiva Festival when they’ve already paid for it through their council tax.

“Although £2 doesn’t sound much it means we’ve lost the accolade of hosting the UK’s largest free festival.

“It’s also easier to hike prices longer term once you’ve established the principle of charging.

“It is yet another blow for the city after a visitor tax at the Transport Museum was announced last week and follows the dreadful news that the Priory visitor centre is closing down.

“With an overspend of £0.5m last year this charge is a lazy and unimaginative way of trying to balance the books and won’t come close to doing that.

“The problem has been caused by a failure to control costs and attract sponsorship – factors which they don’t appear to have addressed once again.

“Perhaps the biggest issue is one of trust in this failing Labour administration who say one thing and do another.

“They cynically denied plans to implement a charge during the local elections, waiting until they were re-elected to come clean.”

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