Anger as popular Birmingham music festival introduces entry fee for first time

A popular music and community festival in Birmingham is to charge an admission fee for the first time this year –sparking anger from some revellers. The Simmer Down event has been free since 2010, attracting around 20,000 visitors to Handsworth Park.

But organisers said the change was needed as it was “simply not sustainable” to offer free entry after the “devastating impact of COVID-19.” The festival celebrates Birmingham’s rich cultural diversity by paying tribute to reggae and other musical genres.

Adults will now have to pay £ 11, with the charges described as “nominal” in a statement addressing the introduction of payment. Organisers wrote: “Since 2010, Simmer Down Festival has been free of charge.

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However, costs are increasing every year and the devastating impact of COVID-19 on local businesses resulted in the loss of sponsorship and Birmingham City Council festival funding ceased several years back.

“We believe in bringing the very best international reggae artists as well as home-grown talent, along with workshops and participation activities for young people and a real’festival feel.'”

The statement went on: “In an ideal world, we’d love to be able to keep Simmer Down Festival free, but this is simply not sustainable. Whilst we recognize the pressures of living costs going up in our communities we are committed to keeping. costs down.



Steel Pulse at the Simmer Down Festival in Handsworth Park on July 20, 2014. It is a hugely popular event in Birmingham, but will be charging an entry fee for the first time this year.

“But we also have to make sure the festival environment is safe and has all the infrastructure that is required for an annual event which has now become one of the biggest festivals in the region. securing Simmer Down Festival’s future sustainability and for us to continue to bring you an eclectic high-quality festival programme and additional events throughout the year. “

The event shuts down Handsworth Park every year, and is a highlight of Birmingham’s summer events calendar. It sees international artists, spoken word and dance artists take to the stage for a full bill of performances.

Reacting to the news on the festival’s Facebook page, Jacqui Knight wrote: “Sad news they charging £ 11 was always free.” Tony Thomas wrote: “They’re separating the haves and have-nots.”

Shuila Simmons wrote: “We are in financial crisis at the moment. Could be tricky.” Shales Nic wrote that taking her family would now be difficult: “There should be a special fee for families … could you imagine a single parent with a lot of children having to pay for entry together with utilising the fun fair etc … I understand the reasoning but it is a bit much! “

But others, like Ian Mann, said it would not stop them attending. He wrote: “Great value for money.”

Some of the artists performing at this year’s Simmer Down Festival include Third World, IQulah Rastafari, Odyssey, Havana Meets Kingston, Dub Qalandar, The Big Ship Alliance, Reggaelators, Winston Fergus and K. Dottie. The new charges are £ 11 per adult and £ 6 for ten to 17-year-olds, with under-tens free.

Simmer Down Festival will take place at Handsworth Park on Sunday, July 17 from noon to 8pm. Tickets are available online or at the gates.

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