A RITE of passage for thousands of drunken teenagers has been cancelled.
Oxegen, the famed music festival which has been a favourite of teenage revellers since it was launched in 2004, is taking a "year off" for the first time.
Last night, Punchestown Racecourse moved to console distraught music fans by claiming Oxegen would return in 2013 "bigger and better" than before.
It is understood that the decision to suspend the festival arose from a combination of reasons, including the economic climate and the staging of other major summer events, including Euro 2012.
Meanwhile, MCD has applied for a licence to stage seven concerts at the Phoenix Park in Dublin in July -- but the Stone Roses are the only confirmed act so far. Each concert will have a capacity to hold 45,500.
The decision not to hold Oxegen follows in the footsteps of the UK Glastonbury festival, which has also been suspended for 2012.
The news is a blow not only to the tens of thousands of fans who flock to the Kildare venue every year but also to local businesses.
Punchestown Racecourse commercial manager Liam Holton said the annual summer event usually brought in between €30m and €40m to the local economy.
And he said they had been working to try to persuade promoters MCD not to pull the plug on the festival this year.
"Nobody can predict what's going to happen in 18 months, but we are hopeful it's going to be back here in 2013," Mr Holton said.
"With all the other big events going on over the summer, it's an expensive event to put on, and it's always done very well.
"It maybe makes sense to wait for a year and come back bigger and better the next year, hopefully in a better economic environment as well."
The festival has been running at the Kildare racecourse since 2004 and has a capacity of 80,000 people.
A statement on the Oxegen website simply said: "Oxegen, like Glastonbury, is taking a year off in 2012 and will be back July 2013."
Mr Holton added that the Punchestown festival had been in doubt over the past number of years.
"We've done everything we possibly can, because we would feel that we would have a lot of responsibility to the local area as well to try and bring businesses into the area and Kildare."
He said local businesses, including restaurants, guesthouses and hotels would all be hit.
Last year's performances included Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and the Foo Fighters.