Are you ready for the greatest show this summer?

The Greatest Show opens The Tatton Park Pop-up Festival on 25th June

The Greatest Show opens The Tatton Park Pop-up Festival on 25th June - Credit: The Greatest Show

Rebecca Hartley, the woman behind the Tatton Park Pop-up Festival, has curated a festival with something for everyone, from tiny tot to vintage rocker.

Rebecca Hartley, in Tatton Park, at the location of her summer festival

Rebecca Hartley, in Tatton Park, at the location of her summer festival - Credit: Carl Sukonik

It’s fair to say that the summer of 2021 has been looked forward to perhaps more than any other summer in living memory. Just knowing that as the air warms and the days lengthen, we can gather with our family and friends once more in both public and private spaces, is enough to bring a smile to everyone’s face. With the continued uncertainty over international travel, we are seeking alternative ways to both stay safe and make lasting memories, which is where Rebecca Hartley, of Knutsford events business Saving Grace, comes in – with the Tatton Park Pop-up Festival. 

Planned to run for 10 weeks, from 25 June to 29 August, festival fans can choose from 52 events, all held overlooking the Tatton mere, perhaps one of the most beautiful corners of the park. 

While Knutsford resident Rebecca has built a very successful corporate events business since launching her company in 2017, working with household names from Five Guys to Virgin Media to Café Nero, this is her first foray into public event creation – and what a foray it is. 

saving grace team at a five guys event

Rebecca with her team at an event for Five Guys: from left, Clare Flynn, Fiona Devlin, Rebecca, Jane Briggs, and Louisa Yates - Credit: Saving Grace

‘Corporate events are our bread and butter,’ Rebecca says. ‘We are distinctly not party planners. 2020 was a quiet year professionally and I used the time to really look at the business and do some soul searching about who we were and wanted to be. Luckily, we don’t have massive overheads and, in a reflection of the changed environment, we did quite a lot of virtual events for our clients, both studio-based and “souped-up” Zoom calls.’ 

Still, a virtual event, no matter how ‘souped up’, doesn’t equate to 10 weeks and 52 open air shows in Tatton Park. 

‘In 2020 I brought my father to live with me, as he was in the late stages of cancer. We managed a family holiday and there was an outdoor, socially distanced event close to where we were staying. It was such a great family event – I was able to take my dad, my son, my sister and her children. Even though it was socially distanced, I thought, “I prefer this. I don’t want to be in crowds of people, I don’t want to queue at the bar.” Regardless of Covid, it was just a really nice, civilised, high-end event – and I thought if we could do something like this against the backdrop of Tatton Park, it would be spectacular. 

Abba Mania comes to Knutsford this summer

Abba Mania comes to Knutsford this summer - Credit: Ben Moore

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‘I approached Tatton Park and said this is the idea that I have, I think it fits really well with your demographic, it’s something that’s aesthetically respectful of Tatton and just fits with your brand. And they loved it; we’ve got it for three years. The way that we’ve structured it is just really civilised and I can’t see why we would change the format even if the road map takes us to a place where there are no more restrictions.’ 

In the area in front of a large stage, flanked by video walls, Rebecca has designed individual, socially-distanced, clearly delineated zones for four, five or six people. Those who book VIP have luxury lounge furniture and a parasol, in a prime position, plus exclusive access to a VIP Champagne Bar, can order food from a pop-up Menagerie, Manchester’s current most hot of dining spots, receive full table service and a pass for the posh loos. In the standard squares it’s still very luxe – deck chairs and a table under your own parasol, and drinks and food ordered via an app (a QR code system many will already be familiar with) so no queuing at the bar. With ticket prices for the adult oriented events from just £140 for a four-person square (that’s the zone, not per person) and £104 for the children’s events, it’s a summer of fun just a mouse-click away. 

An idea of how the 'squares' will work at the event, with the VIP zone closest to the stage

An idea of how the 'squares' will work at the event, with the VIP zone closest to the stage - Credit: Saving Grace

‘What I wanted, and what we have devised, is an occasion where everybody feels totally safe and looked after. On arrival, ticket-holders check in, as you would at a restaurant, and are then walked to their square, where once settled they can order any refreshments they fancy, via the app. There are a few fun, quirky additions too – giant deckchairs and photo frames, for example, for your Insta moments, but primarily the focus is on allowing you to sit in your own little safe zone, having a great time in your own little bubble.’ 

In Rebecca’s usual line of work she has built an enviable little black book of contacts, which has proven invaluable in planning the pop-up festival, helping curate a line-up to please families looking for special days for the little ones and adults desperate for an evening of music and dance. 

‘For families we have such an exciting line-up,’ Rebecca says, ‘from Milkshake Live to Coachella to Jurassic Earth.  Family events run in the afternoons, and then in the evenings we get grown up, with something for every musical taste.’

Portrait of happy cute litttle girl on holi color festival

Kidchella will delight the little ones - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

She’s not wrong – the opening night brings The Greatest Show, a West End style performance of songs from the biggest shows and movies, including, of course, The Greatest Showman. More West End quality arrives in the form of Abba Mania and Mamma Mia, the Party. If you’re missing your summer in the Balearics, Symphonic Ibiza can transport you there, or why not take a trip to the 70s with Craig Charles or Bruno Gold’s Love Train? With more acts being added to the running order every day, your greatest problem will be deciding which not to attend. 

‘It’s an enormous pressure,’ Rebecca laughs, ‘so many spreadsheets. But I truly believe it’s going to be a huge success, just spectacular.’ 

Judging by ticket sales so far she’s not alone in this. See you there? 

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