Haworth 1940s Weekend in Yorkshire is cancelled for 2024 after 'obstructive' third party books venues instead

The new organisers of the under-fire Haworth 1940s Weekend have cancelled May’s event after an ‘unassociated’ third party took over the hosting of the ticketed dances.

The festival faced an uncertain future when long-term organisers Chris Slaven and Andrea Leathley stepped down last year after relationships between residents and attendees became strained, with complaints of overcrowding, drunken behaviour and a lack of traffic management.

Last autumn, Matthew Wignall and Jamila Juma-Ware, who own a gin bar in Leeds, announced they had taken over the event, which has been running since the 1990s, and that it would still go ahead in 2024.

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Yet they have now cancelled it and released a statement on social media damning an unidentified group which plans to host 1940s-themed dances on the same dates in the venues usually hired for the event.

Haworth Main Street during the 1940s WeekendHaworth Main Street during the 1940s Weekend
Haworth Main Street during the 1940s Weekend

It read: “Following intense planning since handing over from previous organisers at the end of November, working closely with Bradford Council, our advisory board and charity partners The Pilgrim Bandits and Mind in Bradford, we have been forced to postpone this years’ event - moving dates to May 2025, due to extraordinary circumstances beyond our control.

"Our intention was to use our experience and energy to help deliver an event by the community for the benefit of the community.

"An obstructive and unassociated third party has taken over the main dances which are a key source of event funding, leaving us unable to recoup the funding required to implement a well-managed traffic management system, and carefully curated programme of events, commemorative installations and educational activities.

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"Despite our efforts to resolve this, share the costs and raise funds, the third party are not willing to co-fund road closures and traffic management which are required as a basic staple to make Haworth 1940s Weekend safe and enjoyable for all.

"The main ticketed dances are a primary source of funding required to put the event on - covering road closures, traffic management, entertainment, and most importantly our charity partners whose teams assist in making the event safe and clean.

"Events of this scale require robust planning and significant costs to deliver an enjoyable experience for all. With increased costs through professional management of the event, and a direct shortfall in funding through loss of the main dances, the event is no longer viable for 2024.

"Our team are deeply saddened by these actions, and it is with a heavy heart that we have had to accept the decision to postpone Haworth 1940s Weekend until 2025. For those who are already planning to come to Haworth - there will be smaller events at individual venues that you can attend.”

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Haworth 1940s Weekend has grown to attract over 40,000 visitors, but had faced criticism that it had become too ‘alcohol-orientated’ with fewer military and living history exhibits. Last year stalls blocked access to properties and shops on Main Street, and a counci post-event review recommended that they be removed in future.