Forbidden Forest Festival 2024 at Belvoir to be biggest ever after capacity increase

Ravers at Forbidden Forest Festival on the grounds of Belvoir Castle near Grantham. It is one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the East Midlands.
-Credit: (Image: Jack Kimber Photography Ltd)

An electronic music festival will be bigger than ever after a request to increase its capacity was granted. Forbidden Forest Festival, which takes place in the grounds of Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, will now have up to 22,000 people - an increase of 7,000 from the 2023 event - for the two busiest days of the weekend event.

The festival runs from Thursday, May 30, to Monday June, 3. The organiser asked Melton Borough Council if it could increase its capacity from 14,999 people to 24,999 on the Saturday and Sunday. The authority agreed it could grow, but limited the increase to 22,000 on each of the two days.

Members of the council’s licensing sub-committee limited the number because they said they believed there would be a “significant spike” of traffic coming to the site on the Thursday and Friday already, and they wanted to take steps to mitigate the concerns of people living near the site.

Read More: Grieving family 'devastated' after daughter's grave in Blaby stripped of mementos and gifts

The applicant’s representative told the committee that the Forbidden Festival was facing “increasing demand for what it offers.” However, Peter Carr, chairman of Belvoir Parish Council, said the close proximity of the Forbidden Festival site to the wards of Knipton, Belvoir and Harston brought issues of public noise nuisance and “unprecedented law and disorder issues specifically related to drugs selling”.

He said households which bordered the Belvoir Castle estate were subject to people crossing their private land with ladders to try to gain illegal access to the festival, and that residents encountered “illegal and aggressive trespassers articulating verbal abuse”.

Councillor Carr also said the parish council believed it was “unsatisfactory” that “there appeared to be a focus on incidents exclusively inside the boundary [of the festival] and a disregard of the impact on local residents which, in [the parish council's] view, is unfair.” He also said some parishioners had “expressed a real fear” about future Forbidden Forest events.

After the increase in capacity was agreed, Simon Oates, operations director for the festival, said: “Our commitment to improving the event year on year means we can continue to deliver a stand-out show whilst ensuring the local community is impacted as little as possible. This year will see us take additional measures in order to strengthen relationships with Belvoir residents, including setting up a formal community liaison group to resolve any issues as quickly, and smoothly, as possible.”

The committee agreed to allow 17,000 campers and 5,000 day ticket holders to be on the site on the Saturday and the Sunday. Application documents stated the festival would open a day earlier, on Thursday, May 30, to allow "breathing room" for the extra campers.

A set being played after dark at the Forbidden Forest Festival which held on the grounds of Belvoir Castle
The festival after dark -Credit:Forbidden Forest

Duncan Craig, the council’s barrister, set out a number of conditions for the increase in capacity. The organisers will be required to conduct regular meetings on issues of crime, noise and traffic with a community liaison group, in the three months prior to the event. There must also be a debrief with that group within a month of the event.