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12 January 2022

Permit Free Festival List: What you need to know

If you are organising a new festival and want to allow foreign artists and entertainers to perform without needing a permit, here is a list of things you need to do.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Permit Free Festival List: What you need to know

What is the Permit-Free Festival List, and why does it matter to event organisers?

Music festivals and other events like them are often what people look forward to most every year. Millions of people attend festivals to enjoy watching some of their favourite performers live on stage. 

Although it is not at the forefront of the audience’s mind, immigration law plays a huge part in getting the world’s stars on stage. Most people have never watched their favourite act and thought ‘I wonder what kind of entry route they used to come to the UK’. However, if you are an event organiser, you are right to ask. 

This is where the Permit-Free Festival List comes in. It is list issued by the Government stating which festivals can host foreign performers. Because of this, entertainment festivals do not need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship.

The foreign performers at the listed festivals are able to enter the UK using different routes to the usual points-based methods, such as the Standard Visitor Route or the Permitted Paid Engagement visitor route. The festivals on the list are known as Permit-Free Festivals. 

As a result, it is in the interest of every festival organiser and promoter to have their event on the Permit-Free List, from the Glastonbury Music Festival to the Leeds Music Festival and beyond. Being on the list will make booking foreign talent considerably easier. 

If you fit the description of any of the below, then it is likely that the Permit-Free Festival List matters to you:

  • You are a music festival/entertainment festival promoter or agent looking to book a foreign performer 
  • You represent an agency that works with foreign talent
  • You run a festival that features foreign talent/foreign live bands
  • You have previously run a festival that has featured foreign performers
  • You work for a talent agency that books foreign talent for UK events

If you are, or you represent, an overseas performer, it is important you check that the festival(s) you want to perform at is on the Permit-Free List. This is because performing at festivals that are not on the list will require a different route of entry into the UK. 

Does your festival need to be on the Permit-Free list to go ahead?

UK festivals and events are not legally required to be on the Free-Permit List, nor is it possible for all festivals to be placed on the list. 

Also, the Free-Permit list is designed to make it easier for foreign performers to enter the UK to perform and be paid money without going through the usual routes of entry. Placement on the list makes entry routes simpler but is not a requirement.

Which festivals are already on the list?

The official list of festivals and events that are currently on the Free-Permit List can be on the Government’s website.

However, we have provided a full list below:

  • Aldeburgh Festival 
  • Barbican Festivals – Live from the Barbican
  • Belfast International Arts Festival
  • Belsonic
  • Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance
  • Boomtown Festival
  • Brass
  • Breakin’ Convention
  • Brighton Festival
  • Brighton Fringe
  • Brouhaha international
  • BST Hyde Park
  • Cambridge Folk Festival
  • Camp Bestival
  • Celtic Connections
  • Cheltenham Festivals (Jazz, Science, Music & Literature Festivals)
  • Cornwall International Male Choral Festival
  • Creamfields North
  • Creamfields South
  • Dance Umbrella
  • Download
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh Children’s Festival
  • Edinburgh International Festival
  • Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival
  • Flamenco Festival at Sadler’s Wells Theatre
  • Freedom Festival
  • Garsington Opera
  • Glasgow International Jazz Festival
  • Glastonbury Festival
  • Glyndebourne
  • Global Streets
  • Greenbelt
  • Green Man
  • Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
  • Harrogate International Festivals
  • Hay Festival
  • Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
  • Isle of Wight Festival
  • Latitude
  • Leeds Festival
  • Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod
  • London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT)
  • London Jazz Festival (EFG)
  • Love Supreme
  • Manchester International Festival
  • Meltdown (Southbank Centre)
  • Norfolk & Norwich Festival
  • Out There Festival
  • Parklife
  • Reading Festival
  • Shubbak
  • Sonica
  • Snape Proms
  • Southbank Centre Festivals
  • SPECTRA Festival of Light
  • The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
  • The Warehouse Project
  • VAULT Festival
  • Wilderness
  • Wireless Festival
  • WWE Live

If your festival appears on the above list, then your festival is already recognised as Permit-Free and there are no further actions you need to take.

What do you need to do to be placed on the list?

Having your event/festival on the Permit-Free List means the performer(s) you are looking to host at your event/festival will be able to enter the UK considerably easier than if they enter using a different route. 

However, not all UK festivals are able to join the list. Your festival must meet a list of requirements has to meet to be eligible to go on the Free-Permit List. These requirements are concerned with:

  • The length of time your festival has been running for 
  • How many foreign performers feature at your event/festival
  • How big the audience of your event/festival is

What documents do you need to provide?

Before your festival can be placed on the list, there are some documents that you are required to provide to ensure that the Government can be sure that your festival meets all of the requirements.

The documents required include but are not limited to:

  • Press cuttings relating to your event
  • Evidence from the local police or licensing authority concerning your event/festival
  • Copies of the event/festival brochures or programmes
  • Confirmation of ticket sales and attendance details

How do you send your application?

Once you have checked that you fulfil all of the Government’s requirements and you have collected all of the required documents, you are ready to send your application to be reviewed. 

All of your evidence documents need to be sent to the Permit-Free Festival admin inbox via

It is recommended that large documents be sent as ZIP files. 

When is the deadline?

If your event/festival is due to take place between 7 April 2022 and 6 April 2024, and you wish for it to be included on the Permit-Free List, you must submit your application, along with all of the required evidence, by the 31st of January 2022.

Who can I contact if you have questions?

If you, as an event promoter, organiser or other, have any questions regarding the Free Permit List you are also encouraged to contact with your query.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

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