Sunday, 01 August 2021

Cheaper festival ticket lifts sales to best in 10 years

THE biggest audiences in a decade will attend the Henley Festival next week.

THE biggest audiences in a decade will attend the Henley Festival next week.

Almost 23,000 people have bought tickets to the 33rd annual five-day extravaganza.

That is over 5,000 more than last year when only the Jacksons’ show on the Saturday night sold out.

Chief executive Charlotte Geeves said: “In 2007 we had just over 21,000 and that was our highest in the last 10 years but this year we have done significantly better.

“I would hope that if the weather is with us this number could increase.



“I’m delighted — it has been a fantastic team effort and everyone has worked incredibly hard to get us to this point.”

This year’s headline acts include Jessie J, Lionel Richie, Spandau Ballet and the Gipsy Kings while Laura Mvula and Gregory Porter will appear with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Who Got Rhythm? a tribute to George Gershwin. Miss Geeves, who took on the top job from Gill Mitchell at the end of last year, said: “I’m delighted and really pleased that the public have decided to come to the festival.

“I think it’s due to a combination of really strong artists across the festival, not just on the floating stage. We have got a strong comedy offering throughout the week in the Salon.

“We also have got some strong musicians there and in the Bedouin Tent. There’s a really broad range of music across the week. We have also been able to market the festival more competitively and we have had a broader marketing campaign.”

Miss Geeves had wanted to make the festival more accessible and affordable and introduced a £35 general admission ticket and “Family Sunday” featuring a theatre show, comedy and a samba band for  children. She said: “We’ve sold a significant amount of the general admission tickets. People can enjoy their evening at a price which is really affordable.

“There’s nothing nicer than going to a festival that’s busy with people.”

The marketing campaign meant the festival was promoted to a wider area around Henley while the festival programme was made bigger and the website redeveloped.

Miss Geeves added: “We have ramped up our social media activity very much in the second part of our marketing campaign.

“Lionel Richie sold out within about four weeks and that put us on a good pathway.”

This year’s festival also features art and sculpture, theatre and fine dining with Albert and Michel Roux Jnr heading up the Roux at the Riverside. Comedians who will appear include Mark Watson, Adam Hills and Adam Kay.

Each evening comes to a climax with a fireworks show including, for the first time this year, Sunday.

The festival raises money for the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts as well as local charities.

Tickets are available from the box office on (01491) 843404 and at www.henley-festival.co.uk



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