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BBC Radio 2 In The Park expected to be ‘multi-million pound boost’ for Preston

Posted on - 30th April, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Moor Park, Parks, Preston City Centre, Preston News, What's On in Preston
BBC presenter Richie Anderson in Moor Park to announce the festival Pic: BBC

The return of a major BBC-backed music festival to the city could be worth a £4million pound shot in the arm, according to business groups.

BBC Radio 2 In The Park is coming to Moor Park for two days in September.

With more than 30,000 people each day at the festival then it’s being described as a ‘once in a generation’ event for the city.

Read more: BBC Radio 2 In The Park festival tickets bagged during live Preston broadcast

Back in 2007 the Big Weekend, put on by Radio 1, saw the likes of Rihanna and other major music stars perform for the weekend on Moor Park.

Preston’s Business Improvement District say their initial estimates suggest it will be a multi-million pound boost for trade in the city’s economy.

Mark Whittle told Blog Preston: “The announcement of BBC Radio 2’s ‘In The Park’ event, is amazing news for Preston, we remember the huge impact that Radio 1’s ‘Big Weekend’ had on the wider city, back in 2007. Being able to do it all again, with Radio 2’s audience, and their headline performers, is a major positive for the city.

“Already, accommodation providers in the city are experiencing huge demand for the September weekend of the event, so the benefits have begun, long before tickets have been launched or artists have even been announced.

“The benefits for the city, of a major national event like ‘Radio 2 In The Park’ are huge. Not only is there a positive national spotlight on Preston, but the anticipated spend, in the local economy, of upwards of 60,000 people across the weekend, will be a huge boost to trade. Based on event attendee spend research, we estimate this to be in the region of £4m or more.

“Together with the city council, we’re organising a session for businesses, where they can come and find out how to engage in, and benefit from, the event. It’s our intention to invite BBC colleagues to join us, together with colleagues from Leicester [where the 2023 event was staged], so that we can learn from them and ensure Preston, and it’s business community, is poised to benefit not only across the weekend of the event, but hopefully long after it.”

Some of the Prestonians with Richie in Deepdale during the live broadcast Pic: Blog Preston
Some of the Prestonians with Richie in Deepdale during the live broadcast Pic: Blog Preston

John Chesworth, chair of Preston Partnership, told Blog Preston: “It’s brilliant news for Preston on so many fronts.

“The fact that one of the world’s most iconic media brands has chosen Preston as a partner location is a huge confidence boost for the Preston brand.

“When you combine the reach of the BBC, the social media following of the BBC presenters, artists, cultural and music influencers, and attendees, the Preston name will be exposed to millions across the globe.

“Such a national event will also welcome thousands of people to the city – many new to Preston – presenting opportunities for the visitor, cultural, retail and leisure economies.

“The city’s institutions and private sector will need to work together to take advantage of the limelight before, during and after the event, and Preston Partnership will do what it can to support that.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity and something we can leverage for years to come.”

Learnings from Leicester

Director of BID Leicester, Simon Jenner, said the event in Leicester last year had ‘lifted the mood’ of the city.

He told Blog Preston: “There was a great atmosphere for the weekend and it was a real mood booster. The line-up is top draw, very 80s and 90s heavy as you’d expect for the Radio 2 crowd, but some absolutely household names.

“We definitely found it was drawing people into Leicester but mainly people within the surrounding area and the city itself. It was good to see the BBC taking it outside of London where it had been held for many years.

“For hotels it is an enormous boost, within half-an-hour of the line-up being announced then city hotels were full.”

Mr Jenner said similar to Preston the festival in Leicester was held at a park about 25-30minutes walk from the city centre itself.

He said: “That’s how these festivals operate, you get people to the park and keep them there all day.

“So for the city centre itself then it may not have quite the uplift some people think. There has to be some creative thinking for how it can all be linked together.

“We did see a good boost earlier in the days though, for breakfast, brunches and the like.

“Preston looks like there’s that closer link between the park and the city so hopefully you get the footfall for all the venues.”

A boost for live music in a city without a major venue

The announcement by the BBC, which was confirmed on air last week during a live broadcast from the park and Deepdale Stadium, is a boost for live music in the city.

Currently Preston is without a major music venue since the mothballing of the Guild Hall in 2019 and a long-running legal battle for the city council to reclaim ownership before RAAC was confirmed in the venue roof in January. No date has been given for when the venue will be operational again.

Read more: Reputational damage to Preston City Council over Guild Hall saga ‘pretty serious’

No acts have been confirmed for the Radio 2 festival with the line-up due to be announced during June along with ticket details.

Head of Radio 2, Helen Thomas, said: “I’m delighted that this year’s Radio 2 in the Park will take place in Preston. Following last year’s epic extravaganza in Leicester, we can’t wait to head north with our fantastic family of Radio 2 presenters, as well as some of the most loved music artists on the planet, to party with the good people of Lancashire.”

Owner of Action Records in Church Street, Gordon Gibson, said: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic that Preston has managed to get the BBC Radio 2 in the Park.

“This will be great for our business and I am quite sure everyone else in Preston, as it will bring thousands of strangers into town who have never been before. This is exactly the type of thing we need to keep up with places like Halifax and their Piece Hall.

“Would love to see the Fontaines DC and John Grant come along.”

Chief executive of Preston City Council, Adrian Phillips, said the council’s team were focused on working closely with the BBC on all the logistics for the festival.

He said: “We know how important an event of this size is for the city of Preston and this will be an event that everyone will remember.

“Even if you’re not able to go, you’ll be able to hear it and everyone will have a connection in some way.

“There’s lots to do, of course, but we know Moor Park has the facilities to host these kind of large music events and is a great place for them.”

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