Saturday, 31 July 2021

Confusion reigns at sold-out Elton gig

SECURITY guards ejected guests from the Henley Festival’s main enclosure after they snuck in without tickets

SECURITY guards ejected guests from the Henley Festival’s main enclosure after they snuck in without tickets on the opening night.

People who had only paid £35 for general admission were not allowed in that area, which has a lawn and grandstands with seats overlooking the “floating stage” where the headline acts appear.

Instead, they could sit or stand anywhere else on the riverside site and listen to the performance or watch it on a big screen.

But as Sir Elton John’s show was starting on Wednesday last week, several guests who had the cheaper tickets managed to sneak in alongside those who had paid £120 for full access.

Visitors  with enclosure tickets were supposed to take their seats at about 8.30pm, half an hour before the star took to the stage.

However, most waited until 9pm and there was a massive rush during Sir Elton’s first three numbers, enabling opportunists to slip past stewards as they were checking people’s tickets.

The chaos was compounded by the fact that a row of seats was mislabelled, so legitimate guests were lingering in the aisles as they tried to work out where to sit.

A number of arguments broke out among the crowd and one ticket holder was seen loudly complaining about the situation to Charlotte Geeves, the festival’s chief executive.

The trespassers were wearing different coloured wristbands so security had found and removed them within 10 minutes. About a dozen people whose seats were mislabelled were later given refunds.

Ms Geeves said: “Unfortunately, with our higher profile artists, there will be people who try to get into places where they aren’t allowed. It happened with Lionel Richie’s show when we introduced general admission tickets last year.

“It can take time to move people because they feel entitled to be there and sometimes become defensive but we are aware of the issue and will continue improving our response to it.

“We have a robust management plan and the enclosure was not overcrowded at any point, nor was anybody’s safety at risk.”

“We apologise for the mislabelled seats but we have offered refunds and those who complained were very happy with our response.”

The Henley Standard has also received complaints from members of the public who gathered near the festival entrance to listen to the music and were moved on by security guards.

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