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The inaugural festival promised six stages and 180 bands, held over a three-day period.
The initial idea for Alt-Fest was formed by Dom and Missy Void, then organisers of gothic/industrial fetish event, Club Anti Christ. A circus bigtop was planned with daytime and (less family-friendly) evening performances by the Circus of Horrors; there would also be DJs and club nights.Dom and Missy argued the cancellation was caused by poor ticket sales and an inability to secure necessary funding.A costing error and poor advice, both made in the early planning stages, were also blamed.They offered further apologies for their lack of communication with ticket buyers and artists, and announced that they would be entering liquidation.In addition to the main stage on which Marilyn Manson was due to perform, there were separate stages for industrial/electronica (Front 242, Suicide Commando, Covenant), metal (Paradise Lost, Satyricon, Cradle of Filth), and goth (Peter Murphy, Alien Sex Fiend, The Damned, Clan Of Xymox, Christine Plays Viola, Diary Of Dreams, The March Violets, Skeletal Family). The Alt-Fest online presence came together in August 2012, in the form of a website, Facebook group and Twitter account. Alt-Fest made no official comment for more than 24 hours, amid accusations that questions were being deleted from their Facebook page and official website.They quickly became key resources for discussions and polls on what festival goers would be interested in. After 30 hours, a brief statement was made that they were "working all hours to deal with some extremely challenging and stressful issues"; they apologised for the silence and confirmed a full statement would be made before Monday 4 August.
When queried, Alt-Fest reported that it was an old funding pitch placed in error. The full statement appeared on Friday 1 August, confirming event cancellation and detailing the nature of the problem.
Initial rumours of cancellation began circulating on 29 July 2014, following online comments from Simon Hall of metal band Beholder, and Rob Ferguson, manager for Fields of the Nephilim and The Howling. The organisers estimated £1.7 million was required for the event, but had only sold 7,600 tickets, with a further 3,000 needed to break even.
Expressing disillusionment with other festival experiences, they believed that giving ticket purchasers a greater say in facilities and band lineups would result in a much better event. A dozen bars were planned to provide beers and real ales, including a milkshake bar, absinthe bar, and 'vampire' bar; also a tea room, chill-out areas, and a travelling library.
They formed Alt-Fest Limited, which became incorporated in October 2012. It would support up to 20,000 visitors, and allow for an 'immersive' experience with art installations and sculptures throughout the site.
The same year Dom and Missy launched an appeal for donations, including an early ticket scheme known as 'Dismembership', which raised over £10,000. Ticket prices varied depending on how close to the event they were purchased; typically around £145 for weekend camping tickets with day tickets selling for £57. Stage on the Saturday evening, stated that he had received the news via text message, and then spoken with some of the main stage acts who confirmed the cancellation.
This was followed by a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, which raised an additional £61,000 in seed funding. Children's tickets (aged 13–15) were £50, with free entry for those under 13. Marilyn Manson, Cradle of Filth, Fields of the Nephilim, Killing Joke and Combichrist then confirmed the cancellation via their respective websites and Facebook pages.