Secrecy surrounds line up for new Southend music festival

International superstars are set to headline a new music festival in Southend which is expected to draw in more than 10,000 people.

Organisers of the Glastonbury music festival are said to be helping co-ordinate plans for the £445,000 event, which is planned to take place from September 2-4.

It is understood it will be staged at Southend Airport, with a converted hangar used to host the event.

The unannounced line-up is understood to have been drawn up and will include a mix of international and upcoming local artists.

A council report describes some of the artists provisionally booked as “world-class”.

Sponsors are also said to be on board and Southend Council has pledged £125,000 from its events budget.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for culture and tourism, announced the festival at a cabinet meeting.

She said: “The art of a great festival is a great reveal so I can only say watch this space.

“I would like publicly to thank the airport for stepping in and taking such a great part in it.

“Also those with the vision that something like this could come about in the city when we’d never done it before and with the determination to pursue it at every level.

“I believe this is the greatest show for Southend city.

“Working with organisers it is clear to me this is aimed at the people, and more particularly the people of Southend, with its offer over three days to welcome visitors, world class artists and our own homegrown talent.”

Sam Duckworth – more commonly known as Get Cape Wear Cape Fly – has been leading the project alongside a partnership between the council, the Town2City Partnership created by the late Sir David Amess, The Music Man Project, Southend Airport and the chamber of trade.

Organisers of the Leigh Folk Festival and Village Green have also given advice for the event.

Income will come from ticket sales, sponsorship, catering concessions and external funding.

A headline sponsor has already been secured.

Infrastructure and staff for the festival “will use as much local talent as possible to support the local economy”.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting Martin Terry, councillor responsible for public protection, said: “I’m so excited about this. I love music.

“People associated with the Glastonbury festival have also been involved in helping to check it out and look at the logic of this whole arrangement.

“It is absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to hear who the performers are going to be.

“Whether it’s rock, metal or classical I don’t care I just want to hear it.”

A report published before the cabinet meeting states the festival is being arranged to mark Southend’s newly-appointed city status, with bosses hoping it will increase the area’s profile both regionally and nationally.

Southend on the map

Exciting plans for a new music festival will be the perfect springboard to put Southend on the map as one of the country’s leading cities of culture, organisers say.

Bosses hope the event will become a regular part of the calendar and help bring in thousands of more tourists every year.

Despite plans to get high-profile singers to headline the event, it is hoped the festival will provide a platform for local artists to make their names and launch their careers.

Lydia Hyde, the new Labour councillor for St Laurence ward, said: “Overall, what a fantastic opportunity for St Laurence. We always talk about that we have a lot of outward tourism from the airport and we’re always looking to get that inward tourism back into Southend. I think it’s a great opportunity.

“I think it’s great for the local people and we are going to have a cultural event right on the doorstep in a part of the city that is not always know for the leisure and tourism offer.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for culture and tourism, said: “I believe this will be a fabulous and incredibly exciting festival and the greatest show we could wish for to celebrate our new city of Southend and how we are moving forward into a bright future.

“The whole staging of it is geared for the people of Southend, with affordability and accessibility for them, and with a welcome for visitors.

“A major festival like this is a unique opportunity, and the start of a new era for Southend putting us on the map, raising our already great cultural profile and allowing us to rise to the challenge of hosting magnificent events in a city that has so much to offer and so much to gain.”

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal ward, added: “This is a fantastic idea, a fantastic project.

“It’s incredibly exciting that such an event is going to be at Southend.

“I’m sure it’s going to be an excellent landmark for our new city in terms of highlighting us on the map and bringing a bright future for us as a city of culture.”

Transport plans

Public transport will play a key role in ensuring Southend’s road are not gridlocked by the thousands of fans travelling to the new music festival.

Councillors across the board are behind the event, despite raising concerns over increase traffic.

Steve Buckley, Conservative councillor for St Laurence ward, said: “I do have questions over the increased volume of traffic and would ask what arrangements would be in place for any parking issues and what capacity has the hangar where it takes place have.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for culture and tourism, revealed a shuttle bus service will run from the city centre to the airport to transport visitors.

A campaign to encourage festival-goers to use public transport will also be launched, with a particular focus on using trains which run directly to Southend Airport.

“There is a dedicated railway station at the airport and the publicity for this will focus on people coming by public transport.

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative Group, said: “I know there is going to be concerns in those wards nearby about traffic management but it is not going to be beyond our wit to put traffic management systems in place that will hopefully satisfy residents.

“I think from the speed that it’s been done and for the work the partnership have done to get this far shouldn’t go unrecognised.

“Hopefully it’s the first of many.”


Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter