Cheshire’s newest summer festival is a celebration of all things British, from Brit Pop to bangers

The festival scene in the UK has grown exponentially in recent years, with over 600 festivals, of almost every kind you can imagine, held in the UK in 2019. Numbers dropped off during the Covid years of course, but in 2023 the Association of Independent Festivals says there were 482 festivals held. And in 2024 we can add one more to that number, with the launch of Brit Fest Cheshire, a summer festival celebrating all things British.

The Brit Fest Cheshire brings attendees an incredible line-up of three days of live music from all British artists, and is designed to be a real celebration of British culture - the arts, fashion, food and drink, and classic cars, too.Great British Life: Heather Small will be performing at The Brit Fest this summerHeather Small will be performing at The Brit Fest this summer

Headline acts include Scouting For Girls, Kim Wilde, Heather Small, The Feeling, Fleur East, Cast, Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins, Starsailor, Toploader, Reef, Dodgy, Lottery Winners, Hot Chocolate, Nik Kershaw, Paul Young, The Bluetones, The Christians and Tunde Baiyewu from The Lighthouse Family.

In addition to a full programme of live music, the festival will offer an entire weekend of fun activities to keep the family entertained, including a vintage fairground, white knuckle rides, free family cinema, woodcraft and whittling, food and drink, an artisan market, a garden party, a festival village green, wellness in the wild with yoga, and a whole section devoted to classic cars, as well as a chance to meet Team GB athletes and thrill to the Extreme Mountain Bike Show. And breathe.

Great British Life: Anthony and Edward Prophet, with Jenny Powell, who will be compering the main stageAnthony and Edward Prophet, with Jenny Powell, who will be compering the main stage

The festival is the culmination of a lifetime in hospitality and events by brothers Anthony and Edward Prophet, Cheshire natives and Altrincham residents, who first set about dreaming up their own perfect summer festival, and then set about finding the ideal location – as close to their own homes as possible.

“The Brit Fest Cheshire is undoubtedly Cheshire’s newest, hottest festival,” Anthony says. “The calibre of acts across all three days is massive, certainly beyond anything this part of Cheshire has seen before. The ethos of the festival, being The Brit Fest, is a celebration of the best of British and that’s not limited to the musical big names. It’s the culture we saw celebrated so beautifully around the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and the Coronation last year. Launching this now is just amazing, because I think people now no longer take for granted going out, being with friends; people are planning to go to bigger and better events every year.

“For the people of Altrincham, Sale, Hale, Wilmslow, Knutsford, Mobberley and surrounds, this event is truly on their doorstep. We’ve curated a weekend in such a way that there’s a 90s celebration, an 80s celebration and on the Sunday a more eclectic family mix. Each of the bands coming would be a headline act in their own right and indeed many are still touring now. The Saturday lineup are all major names; it’s just epic. We think Saturday will be the big dress up day. The Sunday is a great day because each of the names is such a great name, but I think for many families it will be the first festival they’ve been to – we have Heather Small, Fleur East, Toploader, The Christians, and Matt Ford’s Big Band – and you don’t see many big bands at festivals. That's just the main stage – we have a second stage, the ABC Warrantee stage, which has over 60 acts as well over the weekend.”

Great British Life: Toploader will be performing at the inaugural Brit FestToploader will be performing at the inaugural Brit Fest

Edward adds: “The ABC stage isn’t just music. We have stand up, people talking about mental health, wellness, dance coaching. It’s in the community area of the festival, away from the main stage.”

The Brit Fest takes place in July, at Ashley Hall Showground, the first time a festival of this nature will have been hosted here.

“We’re using the entrance that’s pretty much in Hale village, so it’s so easily accessible - for all intents and purposes it’s slap bang in the middle of Hale. You can walk to this from the Altrincham Metro station or Hale train station. The site is 120 acres, there’s parking for thousands of cars and we’re offering weekend camping packages, too – camping, glamping, and provision for motorhomes and caravans. Bring your own tent, or do the ultimate Boho – just pack a weekend bag and we do the rest, it’s like a festival hotel.”

Great British Life: Fleur East is just one of an exciting lineupFleur East is just one of an exciting lineup

As well as music, the festival offers a Taste of Cheshire shopping village, packed with retailers of locally made food and drink, fashions and gifts. The vintage funfair is aimed at younger families, and a wellness zone, The Mindful Meadow, encourages festival-goers to get involved in massage, yoga, nutrition and expert speakers. We’re also bringing in the biggest funfair in the North West, outside of the annual Knutsford May Day Fair – and it’s run by the same people.

“And all this is built around an area where we’re having very British entertainment, from morris dancing to Maypole dancing.”

There will of course also be a rather super VIP area, hosted by Altrincham’s Con Club, with their most-loved food and drink offerings, alongside a guaranteed front row view of the main stage.

So, where on earth do you start when deciding to launch a major summer festival?

Great British Life: Kim Wilde will be on the main stage at Brit Fest CheshireKim Wilde will be on the main stage at Brit Fest Cheshire

“Prior to launching our own business, I worked in motorsport and Edward in theatre promotions,” Anthony says. “We’ve promoted over 3,000 shows over the decade or so we’ve worked in this industry, and this was really the natural trajectory to grow and expand. We have worked on concerts and events for a long time , but what we’ve never been able to achieve until now is true scalability. So if we had an act like Kim Wilde, we had nowhere we could put her on as the venues we operated weren’t large enough, but now with the festival it’s fabulous.

“When we first talked about doing this, we came up initially with the concept, and then had to find the perfect location. We wanted to keep it local and knew about Ashley Showground, but this isn’t the sort of event usually hosted there, but we met with Henry Brooks, of Tatton Estates which owns the showground, and when he saw and understood our concept, he loved it. We have been very careful to engage with all local residents and bring them into everything so they understand what’s happening and how it will all work, and everyone’s on board.

“It’s been such a great experience building this, we can be so creative and so wild in our thinking, there’s really truly something for everybody – not just the big headline stuff, but so many small and quirky things, too, from Timmy Mallet wandering about to Eddie the Eagle making an appearance; loads of surprises people just won’t be expecting.

“It’s been over two years in the making. It’s a fascinating project I feel really privileged to be working on.”