Now in its seventh year, the festival has gone from strength to strength and has been ‘instrumental’ in positioning Lancaster as the foremost Northern city for live music.
Festival Director Ben Ruth says: “One of the original aims of the festival was to highlight the quality, diversity and sheer quantity of live music in this small city. When people visit Lancaster they’re always struck by this abundance and in particular how all the venues are within easy staggering distance of each other. Many people who visit Lancaster for the first time during the festival regularly come back at other times to enjoy the city’s thriving live music venues and so we want to ultimately put Lancaster’s music scene on the map not just nationally but also internationally.”
Last year’s festival saw an estimated 40,000 visitors boosting the local economy by well over a million pounds. The sun shone and cash machines ran out; it was just like being in Greece.
Running from 8th to 12th October this year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
The involvement of Lancaster Castle in staging live music for the first time in 750 years was one of the stand-out features of the festival last year. Not only are the Duchy of Lancaster on board again this year but the Queen has even visited to show her approval. The festival is also expanding further with an International Stage in the square outside the Judges Lodgings in conjunction with More Music Morecambe and a full programme of events is also planned for Market Square, Sun Square and Dalton Squares to the delight of families.
Outdoor Events Director Lucy Reynolds says: “Sometimes people don’t realise how lucky we are to have these great performance spaces right in the centre of the city. It’s a great opportunity to bring the festival to people who wouldn’t otherwise want to visit some of the pubs and clubs. Of course the incredible weather that Lancaster is always guaranteed in October is an added bonus!”
There’ll also be a big expansion in Church Street this year with new venues Squires and The Crafty Scholar joining existing favourites The Study Room, The Sun Inn and The Stonewell Tavern.
Barclays Bank will again be hosting their popular Bands in the Bank sessions and this year the bank will be doing so on Sunday for the first time ever. That’s right. Lancaster’s Unofficial Bank Holiday will see one bank actually not closing at all. It’s anticipated that this will be one bank that doesn’t end up with empty ATMs.
Visitors looking for a more authentic festival experience will have the opportunity of camping this year thanks to the involvement of Lancaster Cricket Club. Not only will grass and hard-standing pitches be available but showering and bar facilities will be offered in the pavilion, all less than ten minute’s walk from Lancaster Castle.
But it’s not just about bringing visitors into the city; the festival wants to increase the scope and number of live performances available to locals throughout the year. As Ben Ruth says: “People often talk to me about the ‘70s and ‘80s when Lancaster was on the itinerary of all the big live music tours. Bands from Genesis to The Stranglers, from Queen to Madness have played Lancaster in the past and we’d love to see this revived.”
“We’ll be making a start on this just after the festival by arranging for a Rock Legend to play in one of the city’s most iconic buildings. I can’t say any more just yet as contracts are still to be signed but watch out for further announcements from the festival team shortly!”
In all, there will be a diverse array of nearly 50 venues and locations featuring more than 200 acts over a very long weekend. Indeed we heartily recommend attendees to “Take Monday Off!” and to cater for those who do there will be a smorgasbord of chilled afternoon music sessions that proved very popular in 2014. We will increase these for 2015.
Oh, and did we mention that the festival is free?