Could the beloved Lambeth Country Show be self-sustaining?

It is argued that Lovebox and Field Day festivals are needed to make up for the £360,000 loss generated by the Lambeth Country Show. Could this loss be avoided?

One of the main justifications offered by Lambeth for staging the mega festivals Lovebox and Field Day in Brockell Park is that they need to make up for the huge loss which results from hosting the Lambeth Country Show. Apparently it costs £690,000 to put on and brings in roughly £332,000 in income, leaving a shortfall of £358,000.

But should it be making such a big loss. Or indeed any loss at all?

It cannot be an easy job running the show but the LCS' own statistics seem to suggest (disclosure: I am no mathematician) that it is not inconceivable that the popular event could sustain itself, whilst remaining free.

Lambeth estimates that the Country show attracts 150,000 people every year (in their promotional material for partnership opportunities they claim attendance is "more than170,000"). This year they carried out their largest ever visitor survey (a whopping 877 respondents) and one of the questions recorded the overall spend per visitor. In the same promotional material Lambeth states that the research demonstrates that "62% of visitors spend more than £21; and 21% spend more than £41".

When combined with the 150,000 attendance figure, the spend-per-head data seems to suggest an overall spend at the show of between £3,375,000 and £4,750,000.

Ignoring the pleasingly round £10,000.09 taken from tin-shaking, the show received a combined income of £322,000 from concessions (food and drink stalls, rides, shops, etc..) and sponsorship. Income from sponsorship accounted for just over £41K of that figure. It is the concessions which are the recipients of the £3.4 - 4.75million spend referred to above - and for access to this huge sum these traders pay Lambeth just £281,000.

Despite providing the venue and shouldering all the risk and organisation, Lambeth only appear to be receiving 5.9 - 8.3% of the on-site spend. If they took between 13 - 19% the cost of the festival might be covered. Festival promoters often take about 25-30% for their trouble so there could even be scope for Lambeth to make a profit.

Put another way – members of the public are spending on average between £23-32 per visitor. All this cash is going to the commercial traders who hand only £1.80 per visitor (5.9-8.3%) back to Lambeth. If the traders instead handed back £4.30 per visitor in return for all of Lambeth’s cost and effort which they are profiting from, traders would still be keeping between 81-87% of festival spend. It would still be a great deal for the traders compared with other festivals. And the festival could break even. Or make a profit. Whilst remaining entirely free.

2017 Budget [here]

2017 Visitor Survey Results [here]

2018 Partnership Opportunities [here]


To put it in context, a recent Guradian article estimated sponsorship and partners provide around 40% of a festival's income, with only 60% coming from ticket sales.  Taking that ratio and assuming Lovebox sell 100,000 tickets at around £80 each, that would mean Lovebox could be pulling in more than £5 million via concessions and sponsorship. That makes Lambeth's £322,000 income for an event that attracts a larger audience for brands and greater footfall for stall holders somewhat questionable.  Field Day and Lovebox get significant income from corporate sponsors and partners such as H&M, Jack Daniels and HTC. In particular, £41k from sponsorship sounds mighty low.