Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Festival’s new £35 ticket and classical night returns

A NEW general admission ticket costing £35 will be introduced at this year’s Henley Festival in a bid to attract

A NEW general admission ticket costing £35 will be introduced at this year’s Henley Festival in a bid to attract more visitors.

The Henley Standard can reveal the new pricing band for the 33rd annual festival, which will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, July 8 to 12.

Organisers are also promising a return to the event’s roots with an evening of classical music on the Friday as well as a weekend of events for families.

New festival chief executive Charlotte Geeves said: “What the £35 ticket enables you to do is come to the festival. What it doesn’t enable you to do is sit in front of the stage, either on the lawn or in the grandstand.

“What we have been hearing from the audience is that quite a lot of people want to come to the festival but they’re not necessarily interested in watching who’s on stage — they want to listen but they want to experience everything else that’s happening.

“I’m keen for as many people as possible to experience the festival. Most people don’t come on their own, they come as a couple or with friends, and actually keeping a price for two tickets at under £100 is quite important.

“If you want to see the artist on stage you buy a seat but if you don’t you can come at a much cheaper price point.”

In another new move, the lawn area between the grandstand and the “floating” stage, where festival-goers have been able to stand up and dance, will covered by fixed seating instead of deckchairs.

Tickets for these seats will cost from £45 to £85 and the seats themselves will flip up so that people can still dance.

Miss Geeves said that dancing in front of a deck chair was a potential safety hazard and added: “Standing is good for people in the centre but those on the periphery don’t necessarily get a great view.”

The move will reduce the capacity from about 3,000 standing to just under 2,500 with seats.

Prices for the grandstand seats will range from £65 to £150.

Tickets will go on sale from Monday when details of some of this year’s main performers and other highlights will also be announced.

Miss Geeves took over from Gill Mitchell in November, vowing not to make any major changes until she had a better understanding of the event and had attended the festival for the first time.

At the time she said she wanted to ensure all five evenings were sold out in the future.

After last year’s festival organisers said they were “disappointed” that only one of the five nights sold out.

Last year’s headline acts were the Jacksons, Bryan Ferry, Joss Stone, Rebecca Ferguson and Burt Bacharach but only the Jacksons’ show on the Saturday night sold out. Ms Mitchell said she had expected more people to support the festival after organisers scrapped a proposed move to the Henley Business School in favour of staying at the Henley Royal Regatta site.

The proposed move in 2013 led to protests by some supporters that the event would not be the same if it was no longer held in Henley and easily accessible.

Miss Geeves told the Henley Standard: “I’m keen for it to be a sell-out and a huge success. I think it’s something the whole town can celebrate and be proud of. We’re so unique in what we do — there isn’t a festival quite like us in the country.”

She said that introducing a general admission ticket wasn’t a major change for the festival, adding: “It is a small tweak as to how we operate effectively to encourage more people to come.”

A classical concert wasn’t held at last year’s event because the festival’s artistic director Stewart Collins couldn’t find a performer that he felt was appropriate.

At the time, he said he had to change his plans at the last minute due to a lack of artists’ availability.

Tickets will be available at www.henley-festival.co.uk or call the box office on (01491) 843404.

More News:

POLL: Have your say