Rain, apathy and crowd control problems are playing havoc with the festival season. The constant rain has already scuppered the M Fest, due to take place at Harewood House in Leeds on 7-8 July, while the Riverside Festival in Stamford was also a recent washout.
It's not just the weather. With a glut of festivals clamouring for business at a time when many households are trying to rein in their spending, some concerts and festivals are being cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
The recent Voice UK tour was pulled after the British public decided they did not want to pay to see competitors from the BBC talent show croon covers of other people's songs, while the Vintage Festival in Northamptonshire has had to be merged with the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire.
At the other end of the scale, the Bloc 2012 festival in London was abandoned on its first night after overcrowding led to safety fears. Its organiser Baselogic Productions has since gone into administration, leading to fears that thousands of angry ticket holders will not get their money back.
So what are your rights if you've bought tickets to a festival only to find it is cancelled, rescheduled or simply disappoints?
What can I do if a festival is cancelled?
If a ticket seller is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star), it should abide by its code of practice.
Although the code is not legally enforceable, it was drawn up using Office of Fair Trading guidance, meaning Star-approved companies should not include anything in their terms and conditions that could be deemed unfair. This includes: "denying the consumer a right to a refund in all circumstances or allowing the event promoter to make changes to the contracted event without valid reason".
That only applies to the face value of the ticket – not all ticket retailers will refund booking fees or postage fees. According to consumer group Which?, Ticketmaster will refund postage charges if tickets have not already been sent, but some agents – such as Seetickets – will not refund the extra fees.
You will not be able to claim for travel costs (if, for example, you have already bought train tickets) from the promoter or ticket seller in the event of a cancellation. If you have the right travel ticket, however, you may be able to switch your dates of travel at little or zero cost by contacting the travel company direct.
What if an event has been rescheduled?
Your rights are similar to a cancellation: your tickets will be valid for the new dates, but if you can't make that date, you are entitled to a full refund. Again, you will not necessarily be refunded any booking or postage costs. You will not be able to reclaim travel costs of from the promoter or ticket seller; again rearranging your travel will come down to what type of ticket you have bought.
The event promised the Rolling Stones, but they've pulled out
You're not entitled to a refund if a substitute appears in place of a show's headline star, or a headlining artist changes from the ones advertised on a music festival line-up. Festivals have a right to substitute acts – given that there are often tens, if not hundreds, of them for festival organisers to juggle, it's no surprise that some don't make it to the stage. So if you were looking forward to Nick Cave playing a festival and Nick Berry turns up instead, there's little you can do legally to recover your cash.
While festivals can change their bills freely, the issue is less clearcut for individual concerts. Joe Cohen of Seatwave says that many long-term promoters will try to refund tickets, but it's down to how artist abandonment is covered in the agreement.
If, for example, you go to a One Direction concert and the band comes on for 15 minutes before leaving, you could try and argue breach of contract, but the ticket promoter will argue that you saw the band you had paid to see. "Not always a clear issue," Cohen says.
I went to a festival and it rained constantly and I hated the music. Can I get a refund?
No. It's not the ticket seller's fault you didn't like the festival.
What if I don't want to go to a festival because the weather forecast is so bad?
If you can no longer attend a festival or event, the ticket seller or promoter is under no legal obligation to refund you, even if you give them plenty of notice. Some might buy your tickets back and resell them, but you may well face a further administrative cost for this.
What if a festival is cancelled midway through?
This is what happened to the Bloc 2012 festival, and it's a grey area because it depends on the terms and conditions of the specific ticket you bought - not to mention the financial health of the organising company. Festivalgoers are usually promised a refund, but if a festival collapses it can leave organisers seriously out of pocket.
Bloc ticket holders were initially promised a refund before its backer Baselogic Productions fell into administration on 11 July 2012.
A statement posted by administrator Parker Andrews on the Bloc Weekend website states: "It is important that we understand the full facts including what funds will be available to creditors and ticket holders and to ensure the information we provide about the next stages of administration is clear and concise."
This makes a refund far less likely for Bloc customers.
Can I avoid paying booking fees?
Consumer rights group Which? says promoters and agents agree on booking and postage fees (also known as processing or commission fees) for each individual event and there is no universal way of calculating how much this should be. You should be given an option to buy tickets at face value without paying extra service charges, Which? says. For many events the only way to avoid paying any extra charges is to turn up at the venue's box office but, even then, you'd have to pay cash to avoid a charge for paying by credit card.
Even opting to collect your tickets at a venue's box office rather than having them delivered to your door can attract a charge from official ticket sellers, as does email delivery of tickets where you print them out yourself, such as Ticketmaster's TicketFast service.
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