Stokefest A Victim Of Its Own Success

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 109 months ago
Stokefest A Victim Of Its Own Success

Stokefest 2007 by Mulia
Stokefest, the music festival in Stoke Newington's Clissold Park, is no more. In a short message on their website, organisers announced the bad news that, after six years, they have decided to cancel the annual event due to increasing logistical difficulties.

The festival's growing popularity, which had already caused organisers to shun publicity in hope of keeping within Hackney council's 15,000-person limit for Park events, last year drew the attention of the council's policing department, which invoked plans that state any event hosting 3,000 people or more must be fenced in. Londonist visited last year, and the new metal barriers had created predictable chaos around the entry and exit bottlenecks, replacing the amenable atmosphere that Stokefest was known for with an officious and stressful air.

In recognition of these hurdles, the organisers have made the sad but understandable decision to throw in the towel, stating that under such conditions

the atmosphere will change, the essence of what we all collectively had would be diluted, and our memories of the fun we had would be tainted by the security systems, ridiculous entry conditions and a general lack of freedom.

Following the demise of Rise, this is the second free summer festival that London's lost in 2009. Perhaps last year's debacle proved that Stokefest had indeed jumped the shark, but it's a shame when grassroots-born, locally-supported free festivals disappear. There's also a wiff of conspiracy around Hackney council's sabotage: one of the alternative events that Stokefest's organisers recommend, tongue perhaps in cheek, is the new Free Range festival, which takes place in, would you believe it, Clissold Park, this September. The catch? A £25 ticket.

For those with cherished memories of London's free festivals, the Thin White Duke offers the perfect coda:

"We played our songs and felt the London sky resting on our hands

It was God's land, it was ragged and naive... it was Heaven"

Last Updated 27 April 2009


Yeah, I saw this a few weeks ago. Pretty annoying, and alongside the end of Rise free festivals seem to be falling by the wayside around the country.

A lot of it has to do with the substantial levels of Local Authority funding which has supported them over the years, and is now just not seen as justifiable in the face of cuts in other essential services.

A real shame, and endless corporate showcases in Trafalgar Square simply aren't the same.

lee jackson

It's not surprising. This event was just too big for the location. Clissold Park doesn't have the wide open spaces, or the layout that you need for a big music event that attracts thousands of punters and 'name' DJs etc. Victoria Park, Brockwell Park - yep. Clissold Park - no, I'm not surprised. It was getting way too claustrophobic.

free london

"A lot of it has to do with the substantial levels of Local Authority funding which has supported them over the years,"

hmm, not really, most of the best events, stokefest, hackney volano, the cannabis festy etc didnt receive a penny from the council but instead paid several thousand pounds for the privilege of using the park to local authorities in the form of use of park and entertainment licences

this is largely to do with the fact the local authorities are limited in the number of events public parks are able to hold and prefer to hold profit making events where they can justify charging even more thousands of pounds for the aforementioned licences

that and ludicrous requests for fencing and objections from the police who quite simply find lots of people gathering in one place a load of hassle that they just dont need and you have the reason free festivals in london, unless sanctioned by the mayor, or the few which are supported by (and therefore turn into pr fests for) Local Authorities seem to be on the way out

its not just RISE and stokefest, we've also seen the loss of kingston green fair and camden green fair this year

free london

that said a lot of smaller events are still happening, we've got over 50 listed on