James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Parachute Festival vows to survive

The Parachute festival at Mystery Creek. Photo / Supplied
The Parachute festival at Mystery Creek. Photo / Supplied

The boss of the Parachute Festival is promising that despite tough economic times the event will not go the way the Big Day Out did.

Mark de Jong, founder of the Parachute Music Festival, said the event that runs from January 27 to 30 at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, would continue next year.

That was despite slower ticket sales for this year's event that forced promoters to drop their prices - inviting families to pay $1 or what they could afford instead of the full price.

He said the 21-year-old Christian music festival would be around for years to come.

"That's absolutely our plan.

"We've been going here for 20 years, and you go through a few different things in that time, but we intend to be here for the long haul."

Mr de Jong said ticket sales were now on track to top about 20,000 - down from last year's 24,000 attendance but still a pleasing result.

"We were looking a lot lower than that around Christmas, but I think now we are tracking around 20,000 people which is actually a good result, all things considered."

"We are thinking with all the walk-up crowds and last-minute sales that we'll get there, and I think the weather will definitely help us out. It feels more like summer now, and the thought of going to a festival where it's raining day after day is a little daunting."

As of last night more than 700 families had taken up an offer of paying what they could afford.

The price for a family pass of two adults and three children was $460. There is also an option for lower-priced evening tickets.

Mr de Jong said despite the bottom dollar option, the amounts people were paying varied, with many still paying the full price.

"It's not something we have done before. We have sponsored families at times, but to make something like this accessible as this is definitely a first."

"The idea was only released late last week, and people have paid a full range, with some still paying the full ticket price."

Asked if the promoters were going to take a financial bath and post big losses that could end the event, Mr de Jong said the event had been buoyed by donors who contacted them with pledges of money after revealing their good-Samaritan-like offer to concert-goers.

"I think Big Day Out showed how tough things can be in this current economic climate and I think it will be a struggle to make this one hit budget, but we are doing everything we can to ensure it can.

"But there have been some really great things happening as well ... We have had a number of donors saying 'we want to get involved and make sure it happens'."

The Parachute Music Festival is the second long-standing New Zealand music event to acknowledge that financial pressures are affecting ticket sales.

Big Day Out organisers said last Friday's event would be the last in Auckland because it was no longer financially viable to hold the show in New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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