Over 100k fans enjoy huge UK festival weekend
Hundreds of thousands of music fans flocked to open-air venues across the UK last weekend for the country’s first big festival weekend since the summer of 2019.
Festival Republic’s Latitude and Superstruct-backed Tramlines, both 40,000-capacity, Broadwick Live’s Standon Calling (15,000-cap.) and Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope (10,000-cap.) were among the events to take advantage of Covid-status certification – ie requiring proof of vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test from attendees – to do away with social distancing and create the first ‘normal’ festival experiences of the coronavirus era.
While the two biggest events were held as government-backed pilots as part of the Events Research Programme (ERP), all four festivals implemented some form of pre-event screening for Covid-19 status: Latitude, Tramlines and Kaleidoscope used the NHS (National Health Service) Covid Pass app to check festivalgoers were either fully vaccinated or had returned a negative test, while Standon Calling went a step further, requiring a negative test even if attendees had received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Latitude took place from 22 to 25 July at Henham Park in Suffolk with performers including Bastille, Wolf Alice, the Chemical Brothers and Bombay Bicycle Club.
Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn told local media that the stringent entry requirements meant the Latitude site was “close to being the safest place in England” last weekend, with even performers not able to bypass the checks (two acts, Fontaines DC and Alfie Templeman, were forced to cancel after testing positive and were replaced by Sleaford Mods and Sports Team, respectively).
Staff were “breaking down in tears” over being able to work again
The first festival most of those in attendance had been to since 2019, the same applied to many of the event’s staff; Benn told the BBC he knew of technicians and support staff who had been “breaking down in tears” that they were able to work again after 16 months of minimal event activity.
In addition to the music and comedy programme – other performers included Rudimental, Damon Albarn, Supergrass, Hot Chip, Kaiser Chiefs, Bill Bailey and king of the internet Rick Astley – Latitude also featured a ‘vaccine bus’, staffed by NHS workers, where over-18s could get either their first or second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine on a walk-in basis.
In Hertfordshire, popular boutique event Standon Calling made a welcome return from 22 to 25 July, planning four days of family friendly fun headlined by Bastille, Hot Chip, Primal Scream and Craig David’s TS5.
Though it, too, successfully navigated Covid-19 to go ahead as planned, the festival came to an abrupt end yesterday after organisers were forced to pull the plug due to the flash flooding which had left much of southern England underwater.
Unfortunately due to flooding we will no longer be able to proceed with the festival.
If you can safely leave the site this evening please do so as soon as possible. We are working on getting everyone off site as safely and quickly as possible.
— Standon Calling (@StandonCalling) July 25, 2021
Among the artists booked to play on Sunday were Primal Scream, Craig David, De La Soul and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
“Hearing the first band ring out over the festival was an emotional moment”
Also taking part in the ERP was Tramlines, which welcomed 40,000 people a day to Hillsborough Park in Sheffield from 23 to 25 July.
Featuring performances from the Streets, Dizzee Rascal, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Little Simz, the Sherlocks and more, the sold-out event grew both its capacity and festival site for 2021, adding 10,000 people, a new cabaret stage, The Open Arms, and a new arena for its second, T’Other stage to become the biggest Tramlines yet.
“After 18 months of strangeness, it was unbelievable to be back in the park again,” says the festival’s operations director, Timm Cleasby. “There have been so many hurdles we’ve had to jump to get here and, honestly, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. It’s been great to see so many happy smiling faces, from crew getting back to the thing they love to revellers having the time of their lives watching the bands they love. Hearing the first band ring out over the festival was an emotional moment.
“I’d really like to thank everyone for playing their part with the NHS Covid Pass system. It ran very smoothly, and by being part of the Events Research Programme together we’re helping to pave the way for festivals and live events to get back to normal. I’m full of gratitude for everyone: our amazing crew and suppliers, the support from the DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport], Public Health Sheffield, Sheffield Council and, of course, our fans. Thank you all for helping us do this – we love you all and we can’t wait to see you all next year.”
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2019 Independent Festival Awards winners unveiled
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has crowned the winners of the 2019 Independent Festival Awards at a ceremony in Sheffield, UK.
The awards ceremony took place this evening (Wednesday 6 November) as a conclusion to the first day of AIF’s sixth Festival Congress.
Actor, comedian and writer Thanyia Moore hosted the awards, which saw prizes handed out across eight categories. Winners include Standon Calling (smart marketing), Kokoko! (live act of the year), the Street at Beat-Herder (unique festival arena) and Flavors of Africa (festival catering).
A host of new categories were introduced this year, with Pete the Monkey winning the European festival award; former Deer Shed festival creative director Megan Evans picking up the backstage hero gong; Deer Shed itself winning the ‘never mind the Pollocks’ category for best artwork; and Twisterella winning the ‘in on the ground floor’ award for forward-thinking artist booking.
Nominations were put forward to AIF’s 65 member festivals and later determined by a Festival Congress steering group vote.
“Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, all of whom reiterate that the independent festival sector remains at the forefront of innovation and creativity”
“The Independent Festival Awards was a fantastic celebration and the awards ceremony felt like it had stepped up a gear with a new host, new categories and outstanding production that enhanced the overall independent festival feel of the evening,” comments AIF CEO Paul Reed.
“Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, all of whom reiterate that the independent festival sector remains at the forefront of innovation and creativity.”
PRS for Music’s senior events manager Amy Field adds that the awards are an “important and relevant celebration of the independent festival sector”, acknowledging the “creativity and hard work” that is involved in all the festivals represented.
The first day of AIF’s Festival Congree took place at 1920s cinema the Abbeydale Picturehouse, with talks from from Extinction Rebellion’s Bing Jones, the Parabolic Theatre’s Owen Kingston and photographer Jill Furmanovsky, alongside a headline panel discussion about the nature of independence.
The second day of the conference will include a live recording of Rob da Bank’s ‘A to Z Of Festivals’ podcast with Deer Shed, and talks from Rewilding Britain’s Rebecca Wrigley, Tim Leigh of Stage One and a closing keynote from Arcadia Spectacular’s Bert Cole.
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Weezevent: Celebrating Standon Calling success
A team of eight Weezevent staff were on hand to provide practical advice, guidance and support at Standon Calling in July, as the cashless payments provider marked a successful first year of its partnership with the boutique UK event.
Paris-based Weezevent, which provides cashless solutions for some of the biggest events in France, including Rock en Seine, Hellfest, Lollapalooza Paris and Les Vieilles Charrues, opened a London office in 2017 and signed the 15,000-capacity Standon Calling earlier this year.
“Standon are the festival experts when it comes to RFID and cashless technology,” said Weezevent’s UK country manager, Olly Goddard. “Their decision to become our first festival partner in the UK is an endorsement of our solution and reflects our intention to expand here in the UK, as we have done so in France.”
Standon, this year headlined by Rag’n’Bone Man, Nile Rodgers’ Chic, and Wolf Alice, in 2013 became one of the first UK festivals to introduce a cashless system. After working with two different RFID providers, it moved over to Weezevent for 2019 to take advantage of the company’s cashless and access-control solutions, which work offline avoiding the risks posed by an unstable Internet connection. (As Weezevent co-founder and CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, told IQ earlier this year, “If a festival can’t process payments, that’s like a normal business being closed for weeks…”)
All 180 festival staff at bars and restaurants, and 50 independent traders used Weezevent’s cashless payment system, while mobile partner Greencopper allowed festivalgoers who downloaded the Standon Calling app to create and top-up their cashless account online in seconds.
Andrew Snell, founder and director of One Circle Events, which runs Standon’s bars, described the new payment process as “slick, quick and fast.” Snell is no stranger to cashless – he also runs a cash-free pub in London – but is still impressed by the Weezevent system: “It’s seamless,” he commented. “The device is really nice to use – it’s about the size of your iPhone in your hand – and the staff are absolutely loving it.”
“Standon Calling’s decision to become our first festival partner in the UK is an endorsement of our solution and reflects our intention to expand here in the UK”
Despite Weezevent’s growing British footprint, Goddard said the company is committed to providing white-label services for its clients, rather than building awareness of its own brand among consumers. “Our brand is not important,” he commented. “What is important is the technology and the reliability of that technology.”
As an event that welcomes festivalgoers of all ages, Standon Calling also wanted to give families more control over their cashless accounts. Using Weezevent’s technology, access and buying rights were set depending on the age of the attendees, through RFID microchips attached to cashless wristbands.
“It’s the same account on multiple chips,” explained Goddard. “A parent will be able to control how much goes on the children’s wristbands from their phone. So rather than go over and give their kids a tenner, they have them as a subcategory of the their own account and give them a budget to spend.”
Goddard added that Weezevent had its ‘under-18’ mode activated at Standon Calling, which prevents those under legal drinking age from spending money on alcohol.
Standon Calling founder Alex Trenchard was impressed by Weezevent’s festival debut. “The Greencopper app integration reduced the need for as many on-site top-up stations,” he explains, “auto top-up working offline allowed us to increase spend while reducing costs, and the family accounts helped our family audience plan their festival spending better.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with Weezevent as we continue to make the cashless experience as seamless as possible for our attendees at Standon Calling.”
BST, Latitude, Standon Calling praised for accessibility
The UK minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, has called on festival sites to continue improving accessibility, noting efforts by British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park and Latitude festival.
Poor access, unsuitable camping arrangement, restricted visibility and a lack of representation both on and off the stage are the most common issues facing disabled people at live music events, says Tomlinson.
AEG Presents’ BST Hyde Park (65,000-cap.) is one festival leading the way in terms of accessibility, recently receiving Attitude is Everything’s (AIE) gold status for best practice for inclusivity. BST offers accessible viewing platforms, sign language interpreters and hearing induction loops.
BST 2019 took place over two consecutive weekends from 5 to 14 July, with performances from Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand and more.
Latitude festival (35,000-cap.), which took place in Suffolk from 16 to 19 July, provides additional tickets free of charge for personal assistants, fridges to store medication and an accessible campsite, complete with accessible showers and charging points for wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
“Everyone should be able to experience the joy of attending one of Britain’s world-famous music festivals, no matter their circumstances”
Embarking on its second day today (26 July), Standon Calling (15,000-cap.) has a dedicated team to support customers in its accessible campsite, as well as sign language interpreters across the site.
“Everyone should be able to experience the joy of attending one of Britain’s world-famous music festivals, no matter their circumstances,” says Tomlinson.
“Disabled fans are spending more than ever on live music, but it’s clear there is still more to do to improve festival access and facilities.”
According to AIE, disabled people spent £8.3 million on live music last year, up £3.4m from 2013.
The government’s disability champion for live music, Suzanne Bull, says these figures shows that “UK festivals have made great strides in improving access”.
However, says Bull, “there is much more to do beyond just audience provision. We need to plan for disabled artists and disabled employees to be working throughout all levels of the industry.”
Standon Calling chooses Weezevent UK as cashless provider
UK festival Standon Calling has announced Weezevent as its new cashless provider.
Headlined by Rag’n’Bone Man, Wolf Alice, and Nile Rogers & Chic, Standon Calling takes place from 25 to 28 July 2019. The 15,000-cap. Hertfordshire festival has always been at the forefront when it comes to innovation, having been a cashless event for six years. Packing an unrivalled atmosphere full of music, comedy and arts, hosted across Standon Lordship, the festival always dares to be different, playing host to established headliners, breaking emerging talent, a costume parade, an annual dog show and an outdoor swimming pool.
Festival director Alex Trenchard says: “We are very much looking forward to continuing our cashless journey with Weezevent. We’ve been impressed with their technology, and, as a festival with a significant family presence, Weezevent’s ability to operate multiple wristbands off one email address and bank account offers significant customer service benefits.
“Their decision to become our first festival partner in the UK is an endorsement of our solution”
“Over the last two years, we have also seen a significant growth in customers topping up their RFID accounts via their phones. For the first time this year, we will have a festival app, powered by Greencopper, whose Weezevent integration will make it much easier for customers to check their balances and top up.”
The move to Weezevent follows the recent appointment of Olly Goddard as its UK country manager. “Standon are the festival experts when it comes to RFID and cashless technology,” he comments. “Their decision to become our first festival partner in the UK is an endorsement of our solution and reflects our intention to expand here in the UK, as we have done so in France.
“I’ve always loved Standon and am really looking forward to working with Alex and his team.”
Record numbers for Standon Calling 2018
The UK’s Standon Calling last weekend served up its biggest festival to date, with a crowd of more than 15,000 people turning out for four days of music at Standon Lordship in Hertfordshire.
Standon Calling – established in 2001 as a birthday barbecue for founder Alex Trenchard – has been partnered with Broadwick Live/Global, the UK’s second-largest festival operator, since early 2016. Its 2018 line-up featured Shame, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Django Django, Gaz Coombes, Goldfrapp and the Horrors, along with headliners Bryan Ferry, George Ezra and Paloma Faith.
“Every year, when we plan and work on Standon Calling,we always look to go one better than the year before,” says Trenchard. “I can honestly say that this year was one of my favourite Standon Callings to date, feeling like a real coming together of so many people of all ages enjoying some incredible performances across the weekend. It was amazing to witness everyone having a great time, no matter the weather, and I can’t thank everyone enough for making this such a memorable year.
“From George Ezra’s amazing homecoming moment on Saturday night to the incomparable Bryan Ferry and the sensational Paloma Faith, so many performances will stay with me from this year. It was brilliant to have you all at Standon Calling this year, and I promise you that 2019 will be even better.”