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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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The stage is set for stars to shine at 2013 Festival

WITH expected crowds of hundreds of thousands and following over a year of planning – Whitehaven Festival starts today (Friday).

Bands for next year’s event are already being looked into – but it’s this year’s festival which is hotly-anticipated.

Celebrities Jean Christophe Novelli, Louis Walsh and Rosemary Shrager have all taken to Twitter to promote their attendance at the festival. Jean Christophe has also this week given interviews in two national newspapers and highlighted the Whitehaven event.

The harbourside stage was this week going up to host the best in music over the decades from McFly, Slade and Sweet to Alvin Stardust and the Bay City Rollers (there are still tickets left for all gigs from Richardsons shop, Lowther Street, apart from McFly).

And this weekend’s festival promises the best nautical turnout for years with four tall ships and two Royal Navy ships – some of which are already in the harbour.

Around 50 visiting boats have also been booked in so far and more are still being taken due to the additional capacity provided by the new south harbour pontoons.

“There’s a lovely atmosphere in town and the telephone just doesn’t stop ringing with people making enquiries about the event,” said festival chief Gerard Richardson.

“It’s a national event now, with something for everyone from celebrities such as Louis Walsh, Jean Christophe Novelli and Rosemary Shrager, live music, tall ships, air displays and over 150 different stalls this year.”

McFly – who this year are playing the likes of V Festival and the Royal Albert Hall – are expected to attract a big crowd at Whitehaven’s Friday night gig.

People are being asked to contact Richardsons, in Lowther Street, as soon as possible if they are having any trouble printing out their concert tickets – which are contained in email attachments. It is essential that everyone has a ticket with them on the night.

Extra crowd control measures include the earlier start/finish times and Quay Street being off-limits on the Friday night during the concert other than for McFly ticket holders or corporate wristband holders.

A drop-off/pick-up point for parents will be available along the left-hand side of Lowther Street – from Jeans Flower Boutique to the junction with Strand Street – for the McFly gig.

The band will not be doing a sound check and the gig starts at 6pm and finishes at 9pm (including support acts).

Spectacular fireworks displays take place on Friday and Saturday nights at 10.45pm.

“I think the Saturday night concert will probably be one of the best that we have done with more top 10 and number one hits than we have ever had in one show,” said Gerard.

The party atmosphere continues into Sunday afternoon with Alvin Stardust and the Bay City Rollers, followed with air displays by the Typhoon and Red Arrows.

Organisers may have to look at using another location next year for the harbourside concerts other than the Quay Street car park following concerns raised by Copeland Council and the police about this year’s McFly gig and the Mount Pleasant area.

“There’s some major issues to consider before we can commit to fresh dates for next year.

“We will maybe have to find an alternative location in the town centre for the concerts,” said Gerard.

Other attractions at this year’s event include the James Bond-style jet pack which will be powering over the harbour and Titan the Robot will once again be entertaining with music, tears and laughter.

Working closely alongside Gerard to put the festival together has been Louise Savage, Nadia Hoque and Brenna Richardson.

Louise added: “We feel it’s been very well-organised this year, we have a good team behind the event and we work to each other’s strengths.”

The festival’s major sponsors are the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) and Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) as well as many other smaller sponsors.

Wristbands can be purchased in advance from Richardsons for access to the Sugar Tongue activities and the 200-seat celebrity chefs’ theatre or on the Sugar Tongue on the day.

Programmes, priced £2, are available from Richardsons, Tesco, Morrisons, Pelican garage, Market Post Office, Tourist Information, Egremont, The Beacon, Haven Cafe, La Venue and The Whitehaven News.

Festival-goers are being reminded to think about their health and safety this weekend – from staying safe in the sun and remembering that they are on a working harbourside to ensuring people drink sensibly and are not under the influence of drink and drugs at concerts.

First aid will be available throughout the weekend next to the hub and there will be first aid staff present at concerts.

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