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Monday, 20 October 2014

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You’ve helped save next year’s festival

JUST hours before this year’s Whitehaven Festival it was doubtful whether there would ever be another – but a last-minute surge of support at the weekend has saved next year’s event.

“Up until the Friday, next year’s festival was looking dodgy,” said organiser Gerard Richardson. “We were so far adrift on tickets for every concert we would have been facing a huge loss and you cannot make that disappear. We would have been finished.

“We were almost ready to concede that even Whitehaven Festival could fall foul of the recession but thanks to the sponsors and the public it’s been incredible – and I want to say thank you for everyone who came, bought tickets and supported us,” he said.

“I’m eternally grateful for the support we get, it’s humbling when you walk around the harbour and people tell you how much they are enjoying it.

“Every year I question where everyone comes from but every year they come and it’s fantastic.”

An estimated 250,000 attended the festival over the weekend.

As a thank you to loyal supporters, anyone who bought tickets for this year’s concerts (and have proof of purchase) will get a loyalty early-bird discount on tickets for next year’s event before they go on general release.

And, as a result of the last-minute turnaround, Gerard and his team – Louise Savage and Nadia Hoque – can continue with next year’s plans.

Already two big concerts are being planned for the Friday and Saturday night. “We have been in talks with potential stars for the last two months and it is my intention to have at least one gig on sale by November,” said Gerard.

For the Sunday, an afternoon party is planned instead of an evening one, featuring a host of top tributes to bands such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Abba.

“We want to create a big party atmosphere on the Sunday afternoon and give it a lower ticket price,” said Gerard. They are also planning more activities for the arena on the Sunday next year.

Another exciting event taking shape is Jetlev Flyer, a water-propelled jetpack in the harbour which promises an incredible sight.

Policing this year’s event, Inspector Mark Wear, said it had gone well. “There has been a family atmosphere, it’s been really good,” he said. “It’s very well run and organised. There were some minor incidents of disorder such as drunkenness in the town but nothing major. There was some alcohol seized from kids on the harbour but other than that, nothing,” he said.

As well as himself and a sergeant, there were 10 police community support officers on duty on the harbourside and four special constables.

There are also a lot of security employed over the weekend to help ensure everything runs smoothly.

Gerard apologised for some glitches which occurred including a problem with some tickets for Katherine Jenkins, resulting in some being delayed to their seats, and a few programme timing changes. “It’s one of the largest events in the country and we are aware we make mistakes,” he said. Louise Savage said: “People said they feel this one has been busier and better. We certainly aim each year to get better and better.”

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