Event Solutions: Supplier showcase - Summer music festivals

In a summer of dismal weather and flooding, it took a tremendous amount of hard work to stop the festival season turning into a damp squib - but despite the setbacks, fans had a fantastic time, writes Clive Walker.

LOVEBOX

Lovebox stormed on to the music scene in 2007 with a one-day festival in Clapham comprising a live stage, a trio of dance tents and 10,000 rapturous fans. Four years on, it's got eight stages, a myriad of dance tents, outdoor acts and free classes ranging from puppetry to barn dancing.

This year's event, at East London's Victoria Park from 21-22 July, drew 40,000 revellers to hear the likes of the B-52s, Super Furry Animals and Blondie.

Site management and production was spearheaded by Logistik. Highlights included the New York Alleyway installation (a two-and-a-half-storey recreation of a classic NYC tenement block) and the debut of Insync Events' new backstage VIP lounge, The Green Room. "It will soon be at most major music festivals," says Insync Events director Jess Ince.

SUPPLIER FILE
Staging: ESS
Marquees: WAAP
Security: AP Security
Main stage lights: Negearth
Power: Buffalo
Screens: XL Video
Scaffolding: Vince Hire & Belscaf
Toilets: Search
Sadlespan and big tops: Roustabout
Fairground: Irvin Leisure

GLASTONBURY

Glastonbury saw 177,550 people form a 'tented kingdom' in Somerset from June 20-24 to enjoy the music of heavyweights such as the Arctic Monkeys, Bjork and Shirley Bassey. Tickets sold out in 90 minutes - a far cry from its modest start in 1970, a day after Jimi Hendrix's death.

The event is no stranger to mud and rain, but investing £750,000 in flood defence prevented a repetition of the 2005 mudbath. The record number of visitors posed traffic challenges, however.

A travel management strategy is now in place, but, as festival owner Michael Eavis admits, ferrying tired revellers home on buses was a flop. "Some were late, others decided folk were too dirty to carry. The delay caused was very uncomfortable. I will be working with coach companies to ensure this is not repeated."

SUPPLIER FILE
Staging: Serious
Water supply: Hunts
Power supplies: Aggreki
Fortress fencing: Eve Trakway
Coffee: Fairtrade
Stewarding: Oxfam
Economic impact: Baker Associates
Production: South West Group

GLOBAL GATHERING

In one of her best-known hits, Madonna says that music brings the rebel and the bourgeoisie together - something that was clearly the case at Global Gathering.

A record 55,000 partiers came together from 27-28 July at Long Marston Airfield in Stratford-Upon-Avon, grooving to urban beats, powerful divas and 150 DJs performing in 16 arenas.

But in the days leading up to the event, it looked as though the sell-out festival might turn into a washout as a result of this year's devastating summer monsoon. Torrential downpours seriously delayed set-up and left parts of the campsite permanently waterlogged.

Campers and car parking had to be re-jigged and some event areas didn't go live until the first day, when a much-needed sunburst dried the site. Even Radio 1 was dogged by technical hitches.

Festival organiser James Algate says: "The sheer weight of water hampered our set-up and members of the production team didn't sleep for three nights to ensure the festival went ahead."

SUPPLIER FILE
Sound: SSE Audio Group and Audile
Security: G4, Specialized, Rhino
Toilets: Andy Loos
Cabins: Nottingham Cabin Company
Catering: Absolute Events
Lighting: Zig Zag and Audile
Visuals: PSL

O2 WIRELESS FESTIVAL

O2 Wireless Festival - staged simultaneously in London's Hyde Park and Leeds' Harewood House - pulls in hundreds of thousands to savour the cream of UK live music. But not everyone is thrilled by these titanic gatherings, organised by Live Nation. Hyde Park's neighbours, citing worries about the noise, have secured draconian restrictions on the set-up and performance of live music.

Another complication is the park's unusual status. Unlike other festival sites, it's owned by the Queen, which can leave contractors tangled in endless red tape. John Probyn, production director at Live Nation, says everything has to be done by the book. "We could only set up at certain times because of noise levels and couldn't drive on grass, creating difficulties for set building."

Despite these handicaps, the festival, staged from 14-17 June, attracted 100,000 fans to Hyde Park and 25,000 to Leeds. Saturday provided the biggest buzz with Kaiser Chiefs, Editors, Kate Nash and Joe Purdy heading the line-up.

SUPPLIER FILE
Marquees: Stageco A&J Big Top
Sound: Brit Row
Lights: PRG
Catering: Eat To The Beat
Fencing, barriers, track way and terraplas: Eve Trakway
Fencing and barriers: T-Shield
Health and safety: MRL
Plumbing: Tess
Power: Templine
Security: Showsec

HYDE PARK CALLING

After its 2006 debut, this huge rock weekend has expanded dramatically with more staging, sideshows, better food, bar concessions and six bands per stage instead of five. With headline acts like The Who, Aerosmith and Primal Scream, Hyde Park Calling appeals to a slightly older demographic than, say, Global Gathering.

This year's event took place from 23-24 June in front of 70,000 music fans. Organiser Live Nation ramped up security at the festival by recruiting MRL as a dedicated health and safety manager to co-ordinate.

Production director John Probyn explains: "The current situation means security must be tight in Hyde Park. Our new H&S manager acts as an extra layer between me and MRL which runs security on site. It's another way of ensuring this event is watertight."

By Probyn's own admission, Aerosmith stole the show. But, as was the case at the O2 Wireless Festival - also organised by Live Nation - police insisted the bands were off stage by 10.30pm.

SUPPLIER FILE
Stages and structures: Stageco
Marquees: A&J Big Top
Sound: Brit Row
Lights: PRG
Catering: Eat To The Beat
Fencing, barriers, track way and terraplas: Eve Trakway
Fencing and barriers: T-Shield
Health and safety: MRL
Plumbing: Tess
Power: Templine
Security: Showsec

BIG CHILL

When freak thunderstorms flooded Tewkesbury, Big Chill production staff setting up at nearby Eastnor Castle leapt to the rescue. But the relief effort cost five crucial days.

What's more, the downpours took their toll on the castle itself, flooding car parking facilities, the north campsite and part of the village earmarked for stalls and entertainers. Embattled production staff were left with just one rapidly disappearing day to rearrange the event, transforming the site from drenched to fit for use. Big Chill organiser Katrina Larkin says: "Everything was up in the air. Heavy set-up machinery couldn't be used because it would churn up grass, which had to be left intact for chillers."

But, as we all know, rain and mud can't break chillers' spirits. Around 29,000 turned up over 3-5 August for the live music, comedy and dance.

Highlights included a bigger Sanctuary stage - described as a tranquil festival within a festival - plus the love parade and grass art installations.

Supplier file
Production: So Just Add Water
Lighting: GLS
Showers: Event Showers
Audio visual: PSL
Catering: Eat To The Beat
Outside PA: Dobsons
Security: Show & Events/Knight

BEN & JERRY'S SUNDAE ON THE COMMON

Increasingly, big brands are tapping into the British festival scene as a trendy route to new markets.

Ben & Jerry's - better known for delicious ice-cream - launched its 'Sundae' festivals in the company's Vermont hometown. Now the format has been transplanted to Clapham Common where, for the past three years, its English fete-style party has drawn big crowds.

This year's weekend gathering, from 28-29 July, attracted 20,000 people - four times as many as its 2005 debut. The combination of classic fairground attractions like a helter-skelter, pantomime cows and a coconut shy, plus bands like The Feeling, The Rumble Strips and Kate Nash, create a cool concoction.

Event organiser Cake says the main challenge is assembling a line-up. "It's very difficult when so many bands are tied into exclusives with the Reading, Leeds and V festivals," says senior project manager Andy Ashton.

"But we get big headliners. It's an eclectic mix reflecting the clientele."

SUPPLIER FILE
Staging: Trust Events
Fencing: Eve Trakway
Power: Innovation
Lighting: Siyan
Sound: Systems etc
Marquees: WAAP
Safety and crew: Ronin Event Services
Security: Specialized

THE V FESTIVAL

One of the most commercial UK festivals, V was the first to be staged simultaneously in two locations - currently Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Stafford, from 18-19 August.

Although criticised as being a platform for Richard Branson's companies (V represents Virgin Group) the mightiest names in pop, such as Coldplay, Dido, Kaiser Chiefs and Razorlight, play here.

Bands swap locations overnight, so all the fans - 75,000 in Chelmsford and 85,000 in Stafford - get to hear their favourite sounds. But the split locations present yearly challenges. This time it was an invasion of eager scouts.

Tony Wheeler, production manager for organiser Cake, explains: "Hylands Park had 40,000 scouts celebrating the Worldwide Scout Jamboree at the end of July which left us with eight days instead of 12 to construct arenas."

Both sites added an extra stage - the Virgin Mobile Sessions tent - this year, signalling the festivals' continuing expansion, adds Wheeler.

SUPPLIER FILE
Food and bars: Central Catering Services
Fencing and scaffolding: Blok N Mesh
CCTV: Communicate UK
Lighting: Neg Earth
Rigging services: Star Rigging
Noise control: Vanguardia
Staging: Stageco/Starhire
Screens: Creative Technology
Waste disposal: Nu Klen
Parking: SEP Parking


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