Tourism chief dreams for Morecambe to be ‘festivals capital of North West’

The Catch the Wind kite festival. Photo by Jamie Kay.
The Catch the Wind kite festival. Photo by Jamie Kay.
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Morecambe is flying high towards becoming the festivals capital of the North West, says a town tourism chief.

Darren Clifford said the success of this weekend’s kite festival shows the resort has a bright future as a centre for large-scale events.

Meanwhile a top events promoter said Morecambe’s ‘big three’ festivals are now worth £1m to the local economy.

David Brayshaw has also challenged Lancaster City Council to join forces with his team of local festival organisers to help bring back the glory days to Morecambe.

Saturday and Sunday’s ‘Catch the Wind’ kite festival, organised by More Music, pulled 18,000 people onto the seafront over two days.

This came just months after May’s Morecambe Carnival and last September’s Vintage-by-the-Sea event both drew crowds of around 40,000 to the promenade.

Councillor Clifford, chairman of Morecambe Town Council and Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for tourism, said: “We want Morecambe to be the festivals capital of the North West and we want everybody to work together towards that goal.”

His fellow Morecambe town councillor David Brayshaw said the success of this weekend’s festival shows that large-scale events are central to the town’s regeneration.

Mr Brayshaw said: “The ‘big three’ – Morecambe Carnival, the kite festival and the vintage festival – are bringing around 100,000 people to town between them.

“If all those people spend £10, that means £1m to the local economy.

“I think people need to realise that not only are these events entertaining, they are starting the regeneration of Morecambe.”

Mr Brayshaw, chairman of Morecambe Carnival committee, also heads up the Morecambe Festivals Co-Operative, a group of independent festival promoters dedicated to putting on events in the resort.

Steve Middlesbrough, a member of the Co-Operative, has run music festivals in the town for 19 years.

Mr Middlesbrough said: “Our remit is to give people a reason to come to Morecambe and spend money.

“An event in Morecambe every weekend between May and September, as we had with the ‘Top 20’ festivals season in 2011, would work if everybody was pulling in the same direction.”

Mr Brayshaw said the Co-Operative wanted more help from Lancaster City Council.

“In my opinion, Lancaster City Council should be taking more advantage of the success of festivals,” he said.

“We would like an improved dialogue between festival organisers and the council.”

Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, said: “Even though the city council has had its grants from government cut year after year, the council currently provides financial support of £20,000 for the vintage festival, £3,000 for the kite festival and in kind support for the Morecambe Carnival by cleaning up after the event.

“This is a significant contribution given the scale of the cleanup and would normally be expected to be undertaken by the event organisers.”

On the matter of improved dialogue, Mr Cullinan said: “The city council is always happy to discuss these issues.”