Murielle Gonzalez

Online Content Editor

The city is the venue

Tyne Bridge Simplyhealth Great North Run

Tyne Bridge Simplyhealth Great North Run

Charlie Mussett, senior operations manager at The Great Run Company, has been at full throttle with the finishing touches of Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry, the race that pits the best of Team GB and NI against Europe and the US.

The race will kick off in Holyrood Park on Saturday 13 January 2018 and heralds a series of events The Great Company has in store for 2018, including the second outing of Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run next summer.

Based in Newcastle, Mussett has been working in the outdoor events industry since 1992 and for The Great Run Company since 1997.

The Great Run Company is a specialist in the development, design, organisation and rights management of mass participation and televised sporting events.

Its portfolio boasts over 32 individual events, all delivered annually through Great Run and Great Swim. The company has reported that, typically, these events see over 250,000 participants each year throughout the UK.

The 2017 season ended with the Simplyhealth Great South Run in Portsmouth on 22 October. It was the 28 staging of the event with over 20,000 runners taking part in a 10-mile road race.

Mussett explains: “Our focus right now is on debriefing the Autumn events we held across Tyneside, Bristol, Ipswich, Glasgow, Birmingham and Portsmouth in September and October and planning for 2018.”

The Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry in January will see international elite teams from GB, Europe and the US compete on the grass and hills and over 3,000 runners take part in the Simplyhealth Great Winter Run on the road.

“As a late Christmas present, a nice light dusting of snow for TV would be just fine, but not enough to affect logistics!” he enthuses.

Short build time

Commenting on the difference between a festival and a mass participation event, Mussett says: “Mass participation events typically use public space, with the ‘venue’ being city streets and public spaces meaning a lot of liaison with local authorities, landowners and highways departments and a significant amount of business and resident communication.”

Mussett points out that these events often have a very short build time. “This could see us closing roads at 4 am for an event which will open to the public at 9 am, with the same streets handed back as soon as is practically possible to get a city moving again.”

The experience is what makes mass participation events unique. “Our customers sign up to an experience, and for many that experience will form part of a short or long term goal that might be to get fit, take on a challenge, a change of lifestyle or to raise funds for charity,” Mussett explains. “We talk to and work with our participants pre and post event to help them get the most out of that experience.”

Simplyhealth Great South Run historic dockyard

Simplyhealth Great South Run: participants pass by the historic dockyard

What’s your view of the outdoor events sector?
CM: It’s a very varied place, with festivals, the arts, sport and experiential working in their own areas, and often only linked by shared use of suppliers, venues or crew.

Within mass events, it’s been a crowded marketplace for some time, and a level playing field approach does not apply. The guidance we all need to work to and the level of welfare support we should all aim to provide is clear, but regulations are not universally applied nor is best practice always seen.

What is the main challenge for your events?
CM: Weather and changing city landscapes are regular challenges: all of our events have a bespoke wind action plan, and we used that to assess the risk to the recent Simplyhealth Great South Run where we were forced to both make changes to the site and cancel the Saturday programme of events due to Storm Brian.

We’re fortunate enough to work in major cities like Birmingham and Manchester but with that comes the changes to roads and tram systems that can mean year on year changes to event sites and courses.

What needs to be done for outdoor events to be successful?
CM: A lot of hard work! We typically have to provide everything, which means we have more flexibility than an indoor venue might but a lot more to sort out. In terms of what we offer, we have to ensure that we are constantly delivering and refreshing safe, well organised, fun and accessible events to our participants.

Arcadia chooses Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Arcadia London credit Charlie Raven

Arcadia brings its Metamorphosis show to London. Photo credit Charlie Raven

Arcadia has confirmed that its first London event will take place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The two-day festival is on 5-6 May 2018.

Arcadia founders, Pip Rush and Bert Cole, commented: “Heading home from our world tour, we can’t wait to unleash the very best of the last decade to celebrate our tenth anniversary and open a new chapter for the road ahead.”

The performing arts collective has also announced the first wave of acts including Leftfield and RAM Records.

The pinnacle of the event will be the nightly Metamorphosis show, featuring incredible aerial performers suspended from the spiders’ legs, and ‘Lords of Lightning’ shooting two million volts of lightning from their bodies.

Music performance

The two-day event, which celebrates the performance art collective’s 10th anniversary, will see a different musical identity on each day while Arcadia’s spellbinding Metamorphosis show is performed on both nights.

Londoners will have the chance to step inside Arcadia’s immersive world, where 50-foot fireballs ignite with a thunderous shockwave, multi-million-volt bolts of lightning crackle through the arena, robotic creatures swoop from the sky and thousands let their spirits fly.

Arcadia London. Photo credit Sarah Ginn

Arcadia London. Photo credit Sarah Ginn

Saturday 5 May will see house and techno as the primary musical heartbeat with Leftfield as the first artists to be announced.

Leftism is one of the most significant albums in dance music history, proving inspirational at the beginning of Arcadia’s journey and the bands’ performance on the Spider will be a key 10th anniversary moment.

Sunday 6 May will be bass music driven by the legendary RAM Records hosting the Spider.

With over a quarter of a century at the cutting edge of dance music, RAM has gone from strength to strength, creating a unique musical hub that has helped define the very essence of drum n bass.

Teaming up with London event specialists LWE, Arcadia is set to announce the full spectrum of stages, artists, performances, special guests and installations in the coming weeks.

Will Harold, director of LWE, commented: “It’s a real honour to be working with the award-winning Arcadia team and welcoming them to London for their tenth anniversary. These announcements are just the beginning, and we’re hugely excited to unleash the full Arcadia experience in the capital.”

Headliner launches artists booking service


Headliner CEO and co-founder Stan McLeod-Headliner

Headliner, the live entertainment booking platform, has launched ‘H’, a fully-managed service that simplifies the process of booking renowned artists and performers. The new tool, available online on the company website, is targeted to occasional event planners, agencies and brands.

Visitors to the ‘H’ website can request an act and Headliner’s dedicated team will utilise its extensive partnerships with leading agents, including WME, ATC, CAA, CODA and ITB, to get them the best deal possible.

The service also offers logistics support, including technical and artist riders, production and stage management and artist liaison because its aim is to making the process as easy and effortless as possible.

Headliner is headed up by Stan McLeod and Maria Hayden, founders of BandWagon Gigs, and tech virtuoso Rosario Garcia de Zuniga. Investors include Twickets founder Richard Davies, ATC founding partner Brian Message, Frukt co-founder Jack Horner, Digital Catapult CEO Jeremy Silver and BRIT Award winning producer Charlie Andrew.

“We’re proud to present our ‘H’ fully-managed service, which offers brands, agencies and event organisers access to the cream of live performers for their events,” said Said Stan McLeod. “Having now also put the final finishing touches to our main platform, we are seeing the platform go from strength to strength, and look forward to helping more event planners secure the perfect act for their event.”

Track record

Previously operating under beta, ‘H’ has already secured artists for Facebook, brought Groove Armada to The Digital Master Awards, and booked Razorlight for VW events and Little Boots and Hercules & Love Affair for the opening and closing parties of Cannes Lions.

Jo Cannon, ‎executive assistant at Facebook, commented: “Headliner for us was amazing! They made the process so easy. We saw some great samples of music that could work with our event. We didn’t need to spend any more time thinking about it. Headliner took over and delivered.”

Headliner has also completed final adjustments to its main automated booking platform, which allows event planners to search and book over 4,000 musicians, bands, DJ, magicians and circus performers.

Event planners can message a suitable act directly through the platform, and receive a quote within 48 hours. “The pioneering technology behind the platform, which has seen over 750 bookings in the last 12 months, can now process tens of thousands of enquiries at a time,” the company claims.

Pauline Foucher, marketing director W Hotel London, commented: “We’ve used Headliner to source musical entertainment for W London parties as well as for our long-term Retox Brunch concept. Headliner has been amazing in sending comprehensive lists of suitable suggestions for each event and has always been quick to help out when we’ve needed a last minute change or a special request from a performer. All of the performers have been professional, high-energy and have been a talking point for all of our events!”

Tramlines relocates

Sarah Nulty, festival director of Tramlines, has confirmed that the festival will relocate to Hillsborough Park in 2018.

“I’m delighted that our license for Hillsborough Park has been approved. We can now put our plans into practice as we celebrate the 10th anniversary with the biggest and best Tramlines to date,” she told Access.

Nulty said that the first line-up will be revealed early next year. “We are working closely with Sheffield city council on the city centre proposition to ensure that it remains a core part of the weekend and more information on those plans will be released in the New Year,” she added.

Organisers applied for a three-year licence. The event will run from 20-23 July 2018 on the grounds of Hillsborough Park, Sheffield, for its first outing in the new location. It will return to Hillsborough in 2019 and 2020, but dates are yet to be confirmed.

Undercover Festival changes date

Undercover Promotions, the company running the Undercover Festival, has confirmed the next event will take place in April 2018 at Dreamland Margate in Kent. 

The organiser moved the festival from Brighton to Kent for its fifth outing. This year Undercover Festival took place on 8-9 September. However, in 2018 the festival will take place five months earlier.

Mick Moriarty, festival organiser, explained: “When we said it was the home we were looking for since we started as a festival in 2013, we meant it and I am pleased to be able to announce that we will be back at Dreamland Margate for 13 and 14 April 2018.”

Commenting on the date change, Moriarty said: “It looks as if the move to April is working and appealing to many, our advice is: get in quick as it looks like this one will be selling out soon.”

The festival is one that prides itself on taking an independent and grassroots approach to things and is always determined to be different from mainstream events.

Undercover is unique in that it is an indoor music festival, but also because it offers two days of alternative action from bands festivalgoers would highly unlikely to see on most other festival line-ups.

“Not only do we have a cracking line-up but festivalgoers can experience many retro rides and amusements plus it is once again held undercover i.e. not outdoors so if it’s peeing down come April it’s not a problem and your beer won’t get diluted,” the organiser claimed.

Plans are in place for an even better Undercover VI, and Moriarty said the team is working on the finishing touches on what they believe is a mouth-watering alternative music event.

Bubble Communications buys VOX

Sadie Groom. Photo as seen on Facebook

Sadie Groom, MD of Bubble Communications

Bubble Communications, the global PR, marketing and events agency, has acquired VOX National Events, the organiser and producer of the VOX Summit, VOX Awards and VOXMAS festive party.

The company, a specialist in the media and entertainment technology and services sectors, said the acquisition adds to its extensive events portfolio and further strengthens its offering in the pro-audio and production sectors.

Sadie Groom, MD of Bubble Communications, commented: “As the organiser of many events including awards ceremonies, conferences, product launches and social events, this acquisition opportunity was a perfect fit with our PR and marketing work in the pro-audio and production communities.”

VOX events

VOX National Events was established in 2013. VOX is deemed the leading conference in the UK for the voiceover and audio industry. The event attracts a high calibre of voiceover artists and actors, producers, voice and advertising agencies, creative writers, agents, radio and TV stations and production houses.

Taking place during the conference, the VOX Awards celebrates the best creative audio talent in the media and broadcast industries across 10 categories. VOX celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

“Bubble and VOX National Events come together to create the perfect match with their deep industry roots and well-respected brands,” commented Posy Brewer, owner of VOX.

Brewer said Groom and her team are brilliant at what they do. “I’m thrilled to see Bubble taking over the helm of VOX and building on the solid and well-established foundations to promote audio excellence to its optimum level,” she said, adding that Bubble is the right company in every way for VOX and its future.

Groom commented: “Posy has built an amazing business which attracts the top level of talent in the voiceover community. We are excited to build on the events and community she has created to take them to the next level.”

Sadiq Khan unveils pro-culture plan for London

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has presented the draft London Plan – the Mayor’s overall planning strategy for the capital. The document sets out plans to protect and grow the city’s culture and creative industries through a range of bold measures.

The strategy considers support for new creative enterprise zones and cultural quarters, as well as moves to protect artist studio space and introduce the agent of change principle.

For the events industry, the introduction of ‘agent of change’ principle means developers would have to take account of the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses like music venues before going with their plans.

For example, the developer of new flats takes responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a music venue.

Commenting on the announcement, UK Music CEO, Michael Dugher, said: “London is a global music city. Music tourism alone generates over £1 billion for the capital and attracts over 3.5 million people every year to gigs and festivals.

“Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Night Czar Amy Lame are to be congratulated for recognising that beyond its success the sustainability of music and the night time economy face real challenges which need to be supported by planning decisions.

“We encourage all Londoners to have their say on the London Plan and critical proposals to protect music venues.”

Culture drives tourism

According to the London Mayor, culture generates £42bn for London’s economy annually and employs one in six people. It also plays a wider social role, bringing communities together and giving the city its distinctive character.

Despite this contribution to London’s success as a world city, the creative industries are struggling to grow and thrive as a result of London’s competitive land market.

Over the past decade, London has lost 25 per cent of its pubs, 40 per cent of its music venues, 50 per cent of its nightclubs and 58 per cent of its LGBT+ venues. It is also predicted to lose 30 per cent of affordable creative workspace in the coming years.

The mayor has already committed to carrying out annual audits of pubs, grassroots music and LGBT+ venues alongside a range of measures that aim to stem the flow of closure of venues across the capital.

The draft London Plan is open to consultation and will come into effect in autumn 2019.

Festival Republic eyes new event in Scotland

Scone Palace

Scone Palace. Photo as seen on Facebook

An application for a new music festival has been submitted to the councillors of Perth and Kinross for Scone Palace in Scotland. The project is led by Festival Republic. The music event organiser has applied for a public entertainment licence to host an event in May 2018.

The new festival comes in to fill the gap created by T in the Park, which was cancelled this year.“We can confirm that Festival Republic has applied to host an event at Scone Palace to be held in May 2018. At this stage we have no further comment,” a spokeswoman for Scone Palace, told The Courier.

The councillors of Perth and Kinross will consider the application for Scone Palace at a meeting of the council’s licensing committee on Thursday 7 December.

The Courier reported that Festival Republic applied for a one-off licence. It is uncertain whether the event will only take place in 2018 or it might be a case of the organiser is testing the venture.

Big footfall

Scone Palace is home to the 30,000 capacity Rewind Scotland, the festival run by The Rival Organisation and Into The Groove. Access understand that Festival Republic could only run an event for a maximum capacity of 25,000 people per day, inclusive artists and staff.

Access also understands that the proposal considers two stages, bars and funfair rides. It has been reported that Festival Republic is planning for a public car parking facility, a pick-up and drop-off point for cars and taxis and a shuttle bus service. Camping would also be an option for festivalgoers.

The cancellation of T in the Park, prompted the launch of TRNSMT. The new Scottish festival was staged on Glasgow Green this year with success. The festival will return next years and will be held over two weekends.

Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts, the organiser of T, has not ruled out the return of the festival, however, it is believed that its relaunch would be as a smaller camping festival somewhere else in Scotland.

Festival Republic will have to present a complete management plan prior to the event.

Simplyhealth run returns to Aberdeen

SimplyHealth Geat Aberdeen Run 2017

SimplyHealth Geat Aberdeen Run 2017. Photo as seen on Facebook

The Great Run Company, the UK mass participation provider, has announced that Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run will return in 2018 for a second outing.

With entries now open, the next event will take place on Sunday 26 August 2018 with the 10k, half marathon and Family Run all returning.

The inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run, held in August this year, saw over 7,000 people pound the pavements of the Granite City in the half marathon and 10k. The race featured the most scenic areas of the city, including Brig O’Balgownie and Old Aberdeen.

Runners, joggers and walkers travelled from as far as Singapore, South Africa, and the United States to take part in the race this summer. The organiser estimated £900,000 was raised for charity.

Union Street was packed with thousands of people, and participants can expect another scenic spectator-lined route in 2018, with many of the city’s landmarks on show.

Mass participation

The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is from the organisers of the Simplyhealth Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon, held every year between Newcastle and South Shields.

It is being delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and is being supported by the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan.

Kerry Simpson, communications manager at The Great Run Company, commented: “From the GB athletes leading the field to the youngest participants in the Family Run, this summer the city of Aberdeen celebrated the thousands of people running for fun, fitness and fundraising.

“It was an incredible sight in the city, and we’re looking forward to the return of the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run.”

Next year will also see the return of the Business Challenge, supported by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, with companies competing for the prize of fastest business in the 10k, as well as the half marathon.

The 10k, half marathon and Family Run will return to Aberdeen on 26 August 2018. Photo as seen on Facebook

“As well as the economic benefits, the Great Aberdeen Run provides a real positive focus on health, wellbeing, charity and community and the Business Challenge is the ideal way for organisations to get involved,” commented Russell Borthwick, the Chamber chief executive.

Borthwick continued: “We know there are some friendly rivalries in the region, so it will be interesting to see these teams pitted against each other and would encourage as many businesses as possible to sign up.”

Economic impact

Commenting on the impact of the inaugural event, Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader, Jenny Laing, said: “The atmosphere for the inaugural run was incredible, the feedback from the running community was very positive, and we were delighted by the support for the event by residents and visitors to the city.”

Laing said the run showcased Aberdeen as a major events location. “Our Aberdeen 365 Events Programme demonstrates the commitment of our local and national partners that support our vision of development and sustainability of culture in the north-east.

“The programme provides an opportunity to promote and enhance the long-term economic prosperity of Aberdeen and the wider region by attracting visitors, both local and from further afield, to the city.”

The response to the Great Aberdeen Run has been fantastic. Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The first event this year was hugely popular. We can’t wait for it to return next year and showcase our great city to a wide-ranging audience.

“Aberdeen Inspired will always actively support events that we see will make a difference, and this exciting event certainly does. The impact of events to local businesses is essential, in terms of bringing people into the city centre and the positive knock-on effect of that.”

Good for tourism

As an outdoor event that takes place across the city, the inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run created an opportunity to boost the local tourism.

Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire, explained: “The inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run captured the imagination of people locally and internationally alike, and created an exciting weekend to be in Aberdeen.

“Scotland’s North East is a vibrant and lively place during the summer, with plenty of outdoor activities to entertain families and groups of all ages. The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is the perfect excuse to extend your stay and explore the local area,” Foy concluded.

Catfest London launches in 2018

Elya Vatel / Shutterstock

Elya Vatel / Shutterstock

On 14 July 2018 London will host the first festival for cat lovers. Catfest launches next year at the Oval Space, the multi-use arts space in Bethnal Green. The show, a celebration of all things feline, will feature an onsite adoption lounge brought by the charity Feline Friends.

Catfest is the brainchild of Britt Collins, a music journalist and author of “Strays”, a book that tells the story of a lost cat, a homeless man, and their journey across America, which is scheduled for launch in the UK in June next year.

The festival will take up the exhibition hall as well as the outdoor space, plus a small room at The Pickled Factory, the next door venue, to host the adoption lounge.

Collins has teamed up with the charity Feline Friends to raise awareness about welfare efforts and help cats in need. She told Access that the adoption lounge will be located at The Picked Factory and that the charity would provide the cats.

Feline Friends will take care of the handling of the cats, and determine how many people would get in the adoption lounge at any given time.

“There will be a sofa area where people can sit down and fill in the adoption papers. The charity would do home checks first because they have to make sure people are suitable to take care of them,” she explained.

Outdoor features

Catfest will showcase a range of stylish cat-related products for cat folks, from books, and art, all hosted at the exhibition space. The outside area at the Oval Space will be set to host veggie street food vendors.

The festival will also feature a stage to host live music, film screening and inspiring talks from bestselling writers and animal experts.

“We have invited a number of speakers to Catfest. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, the author of The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, is coming as well as Gwen Cooper, the author of “Homer’s Odyssey”, a book about her blind cat,” she enthused.

Collins continued: “There will be animal experts, like Jeremy Campbell, the vet who launched the first feline-only vet clinic in London.”

Catfest founder Britt Collins

       Catfest founder Britt Collins.
       Photo by Tiziano Niero

Why do you want to launch a festival for cat folks?
BC: I used to go to a lot of music festivals, as a music journalist and I still do because I love music! I used to think for years that how cool would it be to have a festival for cats and cat lovers rather and at the same time to raise money for charities. I know how thin they are, basically running with the help of volunteers.

What is the vision you have for the event?
BC: I want to run a very stylish, well-curated festival for cat lovers, but also to raise money for cats and home cats, and want to turn it into a road show, so take it across Europe, like Lolapalooza; a Catpalooza kind of thing!

A roadshow?
BC: After the first year I would like to take it to Europe. Rome, Berlin, and Paris, for example, for the event to become a summer festival! We can find the local charity for animals in these cities. I know where are all the charities around the world, as I tend to look for them when I travel.

How do you expect the adoption lounge to work?
BC: We want the cats to be in a stress-free environment so the adoption lounge will be set up in the same way as a cat café; you only allow a certain number of people that can stay for 10-15 minutes to get the next slot.

Is everything ready for the event next July?
BC: Right now, I’m dealing with food vendors to set up in the outside area of the Oval Space. I get constants emails about trading and vendors, but I want to have really cool and lovely stuff on display at the show.
At The Pickled Factory, there is a little outdoor space, and we are going to have food traders there, too. We want to have food and drinks there as well because people would have to wait for coming into the adoption lounge. So yes, the event in July is taking shape and is all carefully planned.

Sponsorship opportunities

Collins told Access she is in talks with companies interested in partner contracts with Catfest. “At the moment we are funding the event ourselves and talking to interested sponsors. We are going to talk to pet food and cat care companies.”

Catfest is gearing up for the event in July with ¾ of pre-sale tickets already sold and booking space for traders is selling at the same pace.