London’s biggest theatre festival has announced it’s closing for good

The Vault Festival has announced that it’s closing for good after failing to secure the funding needed to relocate to a new site.

Founded in 2012, the sprawling festival took its name from the Waterloo Vaults, an atmospheric warren of old railway arches and tunnels underneath Waterloo station. It rapidly established itself as London’s biggest and most eclectic festival of theatre, comedy and other performance, with hundreds of shows packed into its subterranean nooks and crannies from January to March every year. Many big names got an early break there – it’s where Liz Kingsman’s huge smash ‘One-Woman Show’ premiered.

However, Vault struggled to bounce back from the pandemic, with the 2022 edition cancelled at relatively short notice. It returned for 2023, but was hit by the hammer blow of being turfed out of the Vaults, which are being redeveloped to more commercial ends.

It was announced that a new permanent home and headquarters had been found for the festival in SE1, but this would have required significant investment, and sadly that investment has not materialised. As such Vault would appear to be ending for good, with all future activity scrapped, significant layoffs, and refunds promised to everyone who contributed to a pre-Christmas funding drive.

It’s a sad end to a mercurial and invigorating festival that was at one point talked up as London’s answer to the Edinburgh Fringe. The closure sounds pretty final, but Vault Festival without the Waterloo Vaults perhaps always sounded as bit strange – hopefully the creatives behind it will find a way to bounce back in some form. For now, thanks for the memories.

Read Vault Festival’s statement on its closure here.

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