/ Travel & Leisure

Festivals cancelled – who’s rained on your parade?

What comes to mind when you think of festivals? Music, drink, fun and friends? How about floods, queues and cancellations? The east London electronic music festival Bloc 2012 was cancelled over the weekend.

With headline acts Snoop Dogg and Orbital, the Bloc festival was always going to be a popular event. But it seems that the festival, held in the Pleasure Gardens at the Royal Victoria Docks, was a bit too popular.

Just after midnight last Friday the festival was called off with police marshalling a safe evacuation. The cancellation, which continued on to the event’s second day, was apparently due to overcrowding. The organiser said in an official statement:

‘By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns. We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount. Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early.’

Bloc suffers from over-crowding

Everything from over-ticketing to floods have been blamed, with the Metropolitan police claiming that ‘people hiding under cover during the showers’ created huge ‘pinch-points’ and thus overcrowding.

Whatever the case, the huge crowds on the small 60,000 metre-squared site certainly didn’t make for a festival-like atmosphere. NME’s Louis Pattison, who was at the event, commented:

‘The site was far too small for the numbers of punters who’d got in – all the tents were full with large queues outside, so festival-goers had nowhere to go but add to the queues.’

‘Queue’ appears to be the word of the night, with the allegedly over-subscribed event leading to most attendees being unable to get into the tents to see the acts. And when festival goers were finally told to leave, queues for public transport were there to meet them. Overcrowding on buses left many with no other option but to walk home, and let’s just say that the Royal Victoria Docks isn’t the easiest part of London to get home from after midnight.

What refunds are you entitled to?

Soon after angry festival goers took their disappointment to Twitter using the #Bloc hashtag. Thankfully the event’s organisers have promised refunds for the £55 per day tickets, bought through the unfortunately-named ticketing agency ‘Crowdsurge’. As for the hassle and cost of transport to get there and back – you’ll be out of pocket.

And Bloc wasn’t the only festival to be cancelled this weekend, with the Leeds MFEST closed due to flooding, and the same fate for the finale of the (thankfully free) Peterborough music and arts festival.

So, if a festival is cancelled, what are you entitled to? As you can read in our guide to buying tickets, you are entitled to a full refund of at least the face value of the ticket. However, you may have to swallow the cost for all the extra fees charged, such as booking and postage fees.

Have you ever attended an event only to have it cancelled, whether due to Britain’s wet weather, over-crowding or another reason? Did you get a full refund?


Basically the only thing that comes to mind when I think of festivals is noise – dislike noise – so I don’t usually go. The last “festival” I went to was a Scout Jamboree at Gilwell Park in around 1958 – A celebration of Baden Powell’s 50 year anniversary of the very first scout camp in 1908 – Met a great number of interesting people from all over the world.

Tom says:
9 July 2012

Great, thanks for that one Rich.

Tom –
Actually it was very impressive – around 50,000 (I think) attended from all over the world – The camp-fire singsong was totally uplifting with so many singing in unison – knowing that all had the same ideals. Not a single fight or argument – no drunks – no drugs . In fact the Evening News published a special edition – but sadly I never bought a copy – even though I was pictured in the crowd on the front page (I thought I could get one at my newsagent.), Somewhat different from the usual festivals of today.

Nu_Rave_is says:
10 July 2012

I look forward to the next Jamboree, when all 15,000 Bloc attendees turn up on on your recommendation.

Scouting whistle possey in da house! Scream if you want a Dubstep Enthusiast Activity Badge!

Brap Brap! (Then help an old lady across the road)


What are you raving about?? The next jamboree will in 2058 – possibly you won’t be here.


By 2058, this chap will probably be complaining about young people that cannot be bothered to write in comprehensible English. 🙂

I’ll skip the festivals and carry on enjoying orchestral concerts. There is a better choice of seats nowadays.

Nu_Rave_is says:
11 July 2012


U boyz r so rite. Totes might not b round c*m 2058. Tho if I am my zimmer frame will b bustin out some bare moves 2 sum bangin bass – ya feel me?

Still, at we’ve the Proms season at the moment. Although as usual I feel Grieg has been under represented. There’s more to Edvard then his Piano Concerto in A Minor, eh chaps?! Lol.

I tend to agree, though it’s music composed for Peer Gynt that seems to be over-exposed, though this has helped give many an introduction to Grieg.

I might pay a visit to the Proms next year and find out what festivals are about. 🙂

Tom says:
9 July 2012

I was at the festival, it was a disaster from start to finish. I left the DLR at Pontoon dock at 7.30 and immediately joined the enormous queue to get in, which segued into an even bigger queue once inside. Pressure at the entrance was such that as I approached the desks, to finally enter the site, everyone with a paper ticket was let in. This was around 90 minutes after I arrived at Pontoon dock.

Once inside, it was impossible to enter any of the stages without a considerable queue. We hedged our bets for an hour or so, hoping that the queues might become more manageable, but they in fact got worse and stopped moving entirely. By the time it was all called off it was something of a relief, to be honest. I left at 12.45 having seen not one minute of music (not by choice, believe me). I was lucky enough to catch the last DLR – friends of mine missed it and took their chances with the shuttle buses, which dropped off in Canning Town, some miles from the promised destination of Liverpool St.

There was nowhere near enough space. 15,000 were coming; I heard the boat had a capacity at 500 (not that I could tell, I couldn’t get anywhere near it). There was one entrance and one exit to each stage. If by 10pm your venues have all become one-in-one-out and you’ve got thousands of people outside, you’ve got a problem. Stewards had totally lost control. The police helped evacuation to occur without much incident but since the event, the Met have dishonestly blamed the problems on rain. However, there was no rain. From coming up in the train from Bank until getting back on the train afterwards, not one drop of rain fell so I have no idea why they are lying about this.

I expect a full refund.

Lou says:
9 July 2012

I also am very confused as to why rain is being blamed for this – it was NOT raining! I expect a full refund, and feel sorry for the people who spent a lot of money on hotel rooms, train tickets, even flights. I live in London and even so I’m still annoyed about all the travel costs that I and my friends had to fork out for. Being turfed out in the middle of the night when public transport has stopped running is expensive.

thisisjukebox says:
9 July 2012

I attended (in a way).

Got there at 10pm, after 90 minutes queuing we didn’t even get near the front of the queue and were sent home by Police. £55+ bf + travel costs, but actually glad we didn’t get in.

It appears all three parties were at fault in some way.
1) London Pleasure Gardens: Clearly not finished the site. I’ve been to their events at Glastonbury and Cordy House and fully expected a rough-round-the-edges arts experience. However, it appeared like they hadn’t finished the site and everyone I was with had serious doubts over their promises on capacity.

2) Baselogic / Bloc: They’d not really put enough thoughts into bottlenecks / the fact that people needed to be inside a tent to experience the festival. When you look at the capacity for the arenas, the numbers just don’t add up. And from my friends who attended, the production values were lacking inside – it was too quiet and no access to bars etc. This is pretty shoddy from experienced promoters.

3) Crowdsurge: Their ticketing system is totally insecure, it broke down and then people could simply print off extra tickets. There’s no doubt more people attended because of this and this was probably the biggest single problem.

All in all, the crowd were remarkably good natured, especially considering many people had travelled in from across the UK, Europe and even some people in from USA and Japan. I think everyone was pleased there were no more serious injuries to be honest.

For many people, this was going to be a summer highlight so Friday’s events were a huge shame all round, hopefully the UK festival industry will learn lessons from this.


A D says:
10 July 2012

Patrick Steen – Why even write this article? You’ve just pulled information from other articles & Twitter. You clearly weren’t there or you would have known that it wasn’t raining. You clearly didn’t have a ticket for Bloc or you would know that there are no postage charges to be refunded as all tickets were online e-tickets.

Pointless waste of time & provides no new information to anyone that has read even 1 other article on the event.

D-Mac says:
11 July 2012

I was another attendee and completely agree with “thisisjukebox” comment about all event organizers are too be blamed.

I was lucky enough to have got in relatively early and got to see a few acts. I ended up in the Carhartt Dome where the sound quality was terrible and we didn’t leave until after 2:30 so the police definitely did not have the site cleared by then. There was a 100% no rain but I also heard rumours about the capacities of the arenas being nowhere close to how many people where there. The ship which was a great idea just did not hold enough people to have major acts on.

To be honest i was shocked when i walked in that they seem to have a large part of the pleasure gardens without any from of music. The 3 main stages (Main Arena, RA and the ship) exits and entrances where all within 200m of each other as well as the toilets. This led to the majority of the people getting crammed into this tight space. Add to this that there were queues and you just had a sea of people not moving and milling about in a tight space.

It’s dissapointing as the line up was SICK but overall it was poorly organised by all involved and they should hurry up and refund those who had tickets and move on. It’s a PR disaster for all so the quicker they solve it the better!