Nicola Macdonald

Nicola Macdonald, Reporter

Shortlist announced for EPAs 2018

The shortlist has been announced for the 2018 Event Production Awards, which take place on 28 February at Novotel London West.

The awards are designed to honour the very best companies operating in the live and outdoor events industry.

New for 2018 are categories for Sporting Event of the Year and Music Event of the Year.

Check out the full shortlist below:

Event Production of the Year
Trinity Set & Stage Ltd
Chameleon Event Production
White Light Ltd

Best Crewing or Rigging Supplier
Knight Rigging Services
Ace Crew Ltd
Pinnacle Crew Ltd

Best Security Company
Specialized Security
The Event & Exhibition Partnership Ltd
Security Force Management Ltd

Best Fencing/Crowd Barrier Company
Live Trakway
Entertee Hire Services
Mojo Barriers
GAP Event Services
Actavo Events

Best Flooring or Trackway Supplier
Live Trakway
Cap Trac Limited
Eco Track & Access Limited
Grassform Group Ltd
Sommer Event Flooring Ltd

Best Staging Company
Staging Services Ltd
Acorn Event Structures
Star Events

Best Temporary Structure Supplier
Neptunus Ltd
Losberger De Boer
Evoution Dome
Fews Marquees
Igloo Disco Ltd
Studio Souffle Ltd
Arena Group
Ascot Structures
GL events UK

Venue of the Year
Genting Arena
Victoria Warehouse
Hyde Park
Sandown Park Racecourse
The Natural History Museum

Green Supplier of the Year
ZAP Concepts
Power Logistics

Best Ticketing Provider
Gigantic Tickets
Ticket Arena and Event Genius Ltd
Red Box Tickets and Events Limited

Best Use of Technology at an Event
Action Impact for Drone Show
Crowd Connected
El Dorado Festival & Event Genius Ltd
Brilliant and VML Technologies
Standon Calling Festival and PlayPass
Musion Events Limited
White Light Ltd

Best Visual Spectacular
Hawthorn for BBC Worldwide Showcase
Jellymedia Ltd for PES League Regional Final
Trinity Set & Stage Ltd for Fantastic Beasts European Premiere
Creative Technology for Passchendaele Century Commemoration
Windsor Racecourse & Fantastic Fireworks
Gunwharf Keys Fireworks Extravaganza by MMEdia Group
Action Impact & NEWSUBSTANCE for Drone Show at Dubai Parks and Resorts
Event FX Limited for Secret Garden Party 2017

Brand Activation of the Year – FMCG
Trinity Set & Stage Ltd for Samsung Tough Mudder
Octagon Worldwide & FRUKT for Stella Artois Vantage Point
MMedia Group for Tesco Mobile
Star Events for Samsung Hypercube
Circle Agency for Dorset Cereals at Cornbury Festival

Brand Activation of the Year – non FMCG
Mad River for The NFU Discovery Barn
Trinity Set & Stage Ltd for The FA Women’s Premier League
MMedia Group Ltd for Dogcilla – Dogs Trust
MMedia Group Ltd for The Dogs Trust Puppy Smuggling Pr Stunt
Mmedia Group for The Red Rum Experience
Circle Agency for Vaillant Warmth Week

Production Team of the Year
TAO Productions
Storm Events
Simply Better Events
Action Impact
NEC Group Arenas Event Services
Continental Drifts Ltd
We are the Fair
Chameleon Event Production

Music Event of the Year
British Country Music Awards
Adele Concerts at Wembley Stadium by Creative Technology
Isle of Wight Festival

Sporting Event of the Year
The OVO Energy Women’s Tour
Bournemouth 7s Festival
Tour de Yorkshire 2017
Nitto ATP World Finals

Access All Areas’ Supplier of the Year
The Loop
Creative Technology Ltd
The Technical Department
Actavo Events
Pearce Hire
Qdos Event Hire

EPAs shortlist announced on Friday

Mash Media, publisher of Access All Areas and organiser of the Event Production Show, has announced that the shortlist for the 2018 Event Production Awards will go live on Friday 15 December.

The Event Production Awards were launched in 2012 and have since become a highlight of the live and outdoors events industry calendar. New for the 2018 event are the Music Event of the Year and Sporting Event of the Year categories, which aim to recognise outstanding events that took place in 2017.

“It has been an absolute privilege seeing the creativity and diversity of the entries that have come in,” said Mash Media portfolio director Duncan Siegle. “The Event Production Awards are evidence of the world-class skill on display in the UK events industry, and it’s vital to have events that celebrate and recognise that achievement.”

The Event Production Awards will take place on Wednesday 28 February, on the first evening of the Event Production Show, at all-new venue Novotel London West.

Earlybird tickets can be purchased on the Event Production Awards website until 31 January.

LeeFest rebrands as Neverworld

Lee Denny, who started LeeFest as a back garden event in 2006, has announced that the festival will now be known as Neverworld.

The new event will feature 11 stages and three ‘realms’, and aims to welcome 5,000 festivalgoers to the site on John Darlings Farm, Wilderness Lane, in Kent.

LeeFest has previously seen acts such as Little Simz, Young Fathers, London Grammar, Ghostpoet, Wild Beasts and Annie Mac performing.

Lee Denny commented: “The story of LeeFest and its origins in my back garden all those years ago was the seed for something incredible, but it’s time for the next chapter. When we started this crazy adventure we did so by pushing personal boundaries and creating something awesome for our friends. However, now the story is much bigger than us.

“As the LeeFest community has snowballed, so have our ambitions. Instead of just a festival, we want to build a whole new world for our community to thrive in. A world that encourages growth and creativity. Discover your inner Pirate, Mermaid or Lost Boy. Welcome to Neverworld; a place you never have to grow old!”

Neverworld will take place 2-5 August, with tickets available now from

Skye’s the Limit

The organiser of Skye Live on the magic of the mountains, the picturesque backdrop of the rural Scottish event and the logistical nightmare that is the Highlands.

With the festival market reaching saturation point, organisers are asking themselves: what can we offer that’s new? The conclusion that some are reaching is – a boutique festival.

For audiences, it’s the smaller-scale and independently owned festivals that are increasingly becoming must-attend, not least because they frequently offer fresh, original content for a fraction of the ticket price of a major event. Skye Live is no exception. The small Scottish festival, now in its third year, has returned to its original site after a year away, offering the best of the Scottish Highlands’ food and music.

This year’s festival took place on 22-23 September, after previously being held in May. These months are known for being the best for weather, as the island has a reputation for an otherwise high rainfall as well as an unpopular native inhabitant in high summer: midges. But neither stopped co-founder and director, Niall Munro, from getting the event up and running three years ago. Munro says: “I felt more comfortable about it being held in September this year, as compared to previously in May. The last two years, people were only just getting over the festive period and getting back into work, so I feel this year, doing it over Skye and Glasgow’s long weekend, worked incredibly well.

“Generally speaking, the weather is always quite nice in September,” Munro adds, touching wood. “Which means, as the festival season is coming to a close, this is one last hurrah to really make the most of the festival season.”

Given that Skye Live is in a relatively remote location, it’s little surprise that Munro describes it as a ‘logistical nightmare’. He concedes, however, that the scenic view of the Skye Cuillin – the island’s mountain range – makes it all worthwhile. “The site we have this year, which was also our original site, has a real kind of magic about it, it is amazingly picturesque event. The site itself only has one main access point, so it becomes quite tricky. Everything needs to work efficiently and
run like clockwork.”

“Skye is very accessible compared to how it used to be; there are various modes of public transport. It’s not too much of a drive from any major city in Scotland,” adds Munro. The only way onto the island is over the Skye Bridge that crosses Loch Alsh, connecting Skye to the mainland. Without a doubt, the organisers’ main worries are the practicalities involved in getting the production and sound equipment to the site. “Obviously there is a lot more cost involved because of all the haulage that’s required to take everything up here. That is, by far, our biggest challenge, but we just need to be aware of it and budget with that in mind.”

“Logistically, the original site it is an absolute nightmare, but the land lends itself so perfectly to a festival that it’s worth the work to make it happen!”

In order for Skye Live to return to the original site, Munro tells Access, he and the Skye Live team needed to develop the ground and call in landscapers to create a larger site to hold two stages. “The site is a place called The Lump, right in the heart of Portree on this piece of elevated ground, which has these amazing views across the Cuillin mountain range and across the island further afield.”

The population of the quiet island is of about 10,000 but, despite midges, August this year witnessed an influx of more than 70,000, according to The Times. Skye is quickly becoming known as a key tourist destination in the Highlands, with visitors making the most of its outdoor activities. “Skye is the second most-visited place after Edinburgh in the whole of Scotland and in terms of tourism that is crazy,” adds Munro.

“There has always been a gap in the market for something like this,” he says. The original Isle of Skye Music Festival ran from 2005 until 2008, stopping after the organisers ran up over half a million pounds of debt, leaving a natural space for Skye Live. “A friend and myself looked into securing a site, booked a couple of artists and the next thing we knew, we were running a small-scale festival,” says Munro. “It became obvious that something like this was needed in Skye.” He tells Access that the founders had only initially considered the event as a one-off. “After the festival happened, we realised that it would make sense to try and make it an annual thing.”

“Last year we stepped it up a bit, in terms of the line-up and artists… The site was good in that it was in the heart of Portree and logistically, more easy. It was a big playing field, fit for purpose and allowed us to extend the festival. It grew to two stages in the second year, whereas we could only have one focal point musically in the first.”

After scouring the island to find another site, all the while trying to organise the festival this year, the founders returned to the original location.

“We actually realised that we could develop and make use of some of the unused ground. We’ve got two stages, the main stage and a power stage that’s hosted by a club in Glasgow called Sub Club. We were so happy about it going back up to the more rural part of Skye, and it was all on the off chance of: ‘let’s go for a walk back up to the original site’ and we actually realised we could make this work.”

With the main aim of the festival to make the original site a success with two stages, Munro had to consider two musical offerings for each. “The last thing we want would be to have the two stages last year but then to go back to the original site and only be able to have one. Luckily we have managed to achieve what wanted and we are now into our third year. It’s all coming together and we’re really happy with the lineup.”

As to the acts that the Skye Live team book, says Munro, “Part of the reason we were able to secure them and afford them is because they want to visit Skye and make a weekend of the isle.”

“Django Django are a band that I’ve been trying to nail down for the last two years… this is actually their only gig this year. One of the band members has a strong, personal connection to Skye, so I think that was part of the reason.”

The festival is music and food focused, specifically showcasing the produce that the island has to offer. “Skye is quickly becoming a real ‘foodie’ destination,” confirms Munro.

“We are noticing visitors who are beginning to come back year after year, we are recognising more people now. Even now, there are a lot coming from further afield, from countries like Germany, France and the US, which is nice because it shows that our marketing guys are doing pretty well,” Munro adds.

“But it is amazing to see such a mix of people, especially visitors from overseas mixing with the locals, it’s a good mix of folk. With people coming from that far away, it makes it really special for us that our festival is worth it and it’s great to be able to introduce people to the island.”

Hire Space unveils top trends for 2017 Christmas parties

Venue booking platform Hire Space has unveiled the top trends for this year’s Christmas party season, compiled from extensive research by its Venue Experts.

The top venues receiving enquiries for Christmas parties show a mix of trendy modern spaces and elegant historic venues. The most popular venue this Christmas is RSA House, located just off the Strand, it offers a wide range of spaces, with everything from modern reception rooms to grand dining halls.

Runners up include Shakespeare’s Globe at number two, Andaz London, Liverpool Street at number three, The Brewery on Chiswell Street at number four and Carousel in the West End at number five.

This year’s most popular date for Christmas celebrations is Thursday 14 December, closely
followed by Thursday 7 December, Friday 8 December, Wednesday 13 December, and Friday 15 December. So, if you’re out on any of those dates prepare yourself for tipsy tube travellers and sozzled Uber surges.

This year’s Christmas party bookings show an increased focus on informal dining options, which are now far more popular than more formal, seated dinners when it comes to Christmas entertaining. This is down to the surge in popularity of street food as well as buffets. This is a trend that shows no sign of stopping increasing from last year by 14.28 per cent.

Taking a look at party spending by sector, Hire Space found that it’s the property industry which throws the biggest Christmas parties. However, when you look at spending per head, it’s the media industry that lavishes guests with the highest spend at parties with an 12% increase in spend per head compared to 2016.

The best time to book a Christmas party is August. That’s because most Christmas enquiries are received at the beginning of September, and finalised by the end of the month. Larger events tend to book earlier and take longer to finalise bookings.

The South and Central London remain top choices for Christmas parties, however East London continues to grow in popularity as a Christmas destination, with companies starting to favour areas closer to Liverpool Street.

Edward Poland, Hire Space co-founder and COO said: “Our research into Christmas 2017 trends is a result of enquiries received by my team of Venue Experts for this Christmas season.

“We’ve seen a 39.5 per cent increase in the number of enquiries received and an increase of 104 per cent  in the total value compared to last year, so it’s safe to say we’ve been busy. We have a unique Christmas party culture in this country with the majority taking place in London, the undisputed Christmas party capital of the world.”

TicketQuarter secures festival contract

Ticketing agency TicketQuarter has confirmed it will be the primary ticketing partner for Macclesfield Festival for the second year running when it returns on 21-22 July 2018. More than 7,500 people attended the inaugural event this year.

Andrew Kleek, chief executive and founder of the Macclesfield Festival, said: “This year’s festival was a huge success and we will soon be making more exciting announcements about next year’s event.

“In the meantime, we are pleased to appoint TicketQuarter as our primary ticketing partner. We are confident they will help us deliver a seamless ticketing experience, making it as efficient as possible for customers to purchase and redeem tickets.”

Writing on the Wall, Liverpool’s longest running writing and literary festival, which celebrates writing, diversity, tolerance, story-telling and humour through controversy, inquiry and debate, has also confirmed the company for its May 2018 month-long festival – which will be themed ‘Crossing Borders’ – and for all future events.

TicketQuarter recently provided services for Liverpool Music Week, which kicked off with Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, as well as On the Verge festival, which took place on 19-22 October.

Henry Brown, head of TicketQuarter, said: “Festival season may be over for 2017 but at TicketQuarter we are preparing for tickets to go on sale for a variety of live events taking place across the North West next year. We are proud to partner with our growing portfolio of festival clients – applying our experience and expertise to the ticketing and enabling our clients to concentrate on delivering fantastic entertainment.”

TicketQuarter sells tickets for music, comedy, theatre and arts, family entertainment, exhibitions and sport for a variety of regional venues and more than 200 events across the North West including St George’s Hall, Farmaggedon and Aintree Racecourse.

As the ticketing arm of The ACC Liverpool Group, home to BT Convention Centre, Echo Arena and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, it also provides tickets for Echo Arena Liverpool and Exhibition Centre Liverpool events such as forthcoming exhibition Star Wars Gathering on 7 July 2018.

The company provides support for event promoters and venues including online ticketing; contact centre and hotline; marketing and promotional support; customer service support and account management.

Powerful Thinking launches Industry Green Survey

Not-for-profit industry think tank Powerful Thinking is calling on festival organisers to take part in the Industry Green Survey 2017.

The survey will help Powerful Thinking track the industry’s progress towards more sustainable events, and gain greater understanding of the challenges festival organisers faced this year so that they can direct their research and create resources to help move toward more sustainable practices next year.

Those who will in the survey will also be in with a chance of winning a free delegate pass to the Greener Events and Innovations Conference 2017.

The survey is anonymous and has to be completely before the 22 December deadline. Winners will be announced in January 2018.

Take the survey now.

AEG Europe makes key move to target corporate events

AEG Europe, operator of The O2 and SSE Arena, Wembley, has announced that the two venues will be partnering up to “maximise the large-scale corporate event potential of both”.

The move will also enable the two venues to cross-refer business where appropriate.

Both The O2 and SSE Arena Wembley have hosted some of London’s biggest entertainment events, with the former hosting the Brit and NTAs Awards while the latter is often used for X Factor auditions and recently hosted the MTV EMAs.

Becci Thomson, head of corporate sales at The O2 and Jo Peplow-Revell, event sales coordinator at The O2, will work across both venues with the objective of securing new business and exploring opportunities for additional revenue streams.

Thomson said: “It’s an exciting time for us as we look to grow the reputation of both venues as the go-to destinations for high-profile events. The venues have experienced teams, as well as the latest in event technology and state-of-the-art production. Now, as sister venues, it provides an unrivalled opportunity for us to cross-refer business and enhance the experience and opportunities we can offer clients.”


Getting forensic about festivals with AIF

It was with a sense of anticipation that Access departed London’s Paddington station on Monday 30 October and headed west for the last AIF Festival Congress to take place in Cardiff (at least for the moment).

If there was a thread that ran through the fourth edition of the conference put on by the Association of Independent Festivals (other than the central ‘Pseudoscience’ theme) it was a sense that the AIF was continuing to shake up the traditional conference format.

With 10-minute talks, panels of varying length and scope, extensive interactive workshops and forward-thinking topics, the conference was clearly an event designed for some of the UK’s most innovative festival organisers.

The two-day congress began in Cardiff’s National Museum with a welcome from AIF general manager Paul Reed, who announced that the 2018 edition of the event would be taking place in Sheffield. Although Cardiff has been a fantastic host of the first four years of the event, the move is sure to further shake up the format and keep the congress new and fresh.

Hot topics

A wide range of subjects were tackled throughout the first day of the conference, including topics as diverse as Brexit, event safety and planning in 2017, and ‘the science of hedonism’.

Of particular interest to Access was an update on the progress made by the FanFair Alliance – presented by MMF chief exec Anna Coldrick – in tackling issues around secondary ticketing and the legislative changes that have been happening in the sector. While secondary ticketing remains a controversial topic in the industry the FanFair Alliance has been invaluable in driving change and debate at the highest levels.

The headline debate of the day covered one of the most serious topics faced both by festival and event organisers in general: sexual violence and assault.

Panellists reflected on how to deal with a case of alleged assault and how to best help someone who has come forward with an allegation

Renae Brown (AIF, chairing), Kate Lloyd (journalist), Rebecca Hitchen (Rape Crisis), Tracey Wise (Safe Gigs for Women) and Ami Lord (Standon Calling) very eloquently debated the challenges faced by both visitors to events and the people who organise them.

Brown headed up the 2017 ‘Safer Spaces‘ campaign by the AIF to raise awareness of sexual assault in the industry, which the other panellists were also involved in.

There was an emphasis on education; not just educating the general public about what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable but also educating everyone involved with an event – throughout the chain of command – on how to deal with a case of alleged assault and how to best help someone who has come forward with an allegation.

Independent Festival Awards The panel also covered potential ways to make festival sites safer and more welcoming, and how organisers who might be worried about the negative nature of the topic can change the discussion into a positive marketing message – making potential visitors feel safer.

Independent Festival Awards

As the first day of the conference drew to a close it was time to head to DEPOT Cardiff for the annual Independent Festival Awards.

One of the big winners of the evening was Greenbelt Festival, which won the much-coveted ‘Act of Independence’ Award for its showcasing of Muslim art and culture in partnership with Said Foundation project Amal.

Another highlight of the evening came when Freddie Fellowes, Secret Garden Party founder, was honoured with the newly created Pioneer Award for his work on the festival and impact on the wider industry.

Freddie Fellowes, Secret Garden Party founder, received the inaugural Pioneer Award

Day two of the AIF Festival Congress, now at Millennium Centre Cardiff, took a deep dive into the science of festivals, with in-depth workshops on counter-terrorism training, digital marketing, crisis management and a three-hour workshop on sexual violence training by Jane Bullough of Rape Crisis South London.

Among the day’s panel discussions was ‘Brave New Worlds’, where Phil Smith (Coalescence Collective), Joanna Mountain (MAMA) and Cara Kane (Bestival) looked beyond the music to the creative production, visual arts and experiences that make each festival unique.

In an era when there are more festivals than ever, and less than 10 per cent of the audience are attending predominantly for the headline acts, it’s more important than ever for festivals to provide an artistic, immersive and imaginative experience for their guests.

After a hugely stimulating two days of debate, networking and celebration of the industry, Access set off back on the train to London, already looking forward to the next edition of this innovative congress.

AIF Awards 2017

AIF Award winners 2017

AIF Independent Festival Awards winners 2017:

Unique Festival Arena – Womb With A View at Shambala

Best Smart Marketing – Secret Garden Party’s VIP/Celebrity Obsession Theme

Live Act of the Year – IDLES

Mind Blowing Spectacle Nozstock – The Hidden Valley’s Closing Festival Fire Show

Festival Caterer of the Year (in association with NCASS) – Happy Maki

New Festival on the Block – Aespia

Act of Independence – Greenbelt Festival

Pioneer Award – Freddie Fellowes of Secret Garden Party

Wolverhampton council chooses Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster has been named as the new ticket provider for City of Wolverhampton Council’s entertainment venues Civic Hall, Wulfrun Hall, Slade Rooms and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

The council has chosen the agent following a competitive tender process. As part of the contract, Ticketmaster will provide the full ticketing service for events at the four venues for the next eight years.

Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for city economy, said: “A new ticket provider was required at our box office to meet the demand in changing technology and to bring our venues up to date.

“The newly-formed partnership with Ticketmaster will make buying tickets quick and easy, while also offering the opportunity to pre-book drinks, food and parking, so that customers can enjoy live events with their friends and family.”

As well as providing technology solutions, marketing reach and customer insight, Ticketmaster will also offer dedicated contact centre support services. Fans will also be able to take advantage of the Ticketmaster Experience app to pre-order food and drinks, or order direct from their seats.


Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster UK, commented: “At Ticketmaster we have been working very hard to ensure our client box office tools remain best in class and we are very excited to be able to team up here with Wolverhampton City Council’s iconic venues.

“Ticketmaster will be providing a faster, more engaging purchase experience for fans and will enable customers to order food and beverages before a show, or even direct from their seats, with our Ticketmaster Experience app.”