The Chelsea Festival has fallen victim to the credit crunch and will be cancelled, organisers confirmed this week.
Friends of the Chelsea Festival, which has run most years during the summer since 1993, were shocked to receive a letter from organisers telling them that this year's much-anticipated event had been axed.
"After long and careful consideration, the trustees have decided that 2009 festival will not take place," a letter from chair of the trustees Ian Frazer read.
The letter went on to outline the reasons for the cancellation as the 'difficult and uncertain financial climate' and threw doubt on whether there would be a festival in 2010.
At the heart of the problem is the difficulty faced by organisers of raising the £300,000 needed to stage the two-week event, after large sponsors, such as Cadogan Estates, pulled out.
"We have become a victim of the credit crunch," said Mr Frazer. "A lot of our support comes from estate agents in the borough, but they are not selling houses, so could not raise the money to see it through. Cadogan Estates pulling out was the final straw."
The news came as a blow to community groups, many of which prepare for months for the annual event.
"It is terribly disappointing and it is entirely about money and the effect of the credit crunch," said Chelsea Society chairman David Le Lay. "There is still hope it could be revived, but it is difficult to reinvigorate something once it has closed down."
Chelsea Art Society takes part in the festival each year by staging an exhibition of work at the same time, which it said would still go ahead regardless.
"It is a huge blow that they are not doing it and it is surprising that Cadogan will not support them this year," said society secretary Heather Wills-Sandford.
Former sponsor Cadogan Estates said the reason it had pulled out was that the festival had outgrown its roots as a community event and had become 'less relevant' to Chelsea.
"The fact that the festival relies so much on one sponsor says a lot about it," said Cadogan Estates chief executive Hugh Seaborn.