The Lytham Festival gets set for crowds of 75,000

Lytham Windmill

Lytham Windmill - Credit: Archant

Lytham Proms has a new look, a new name and many more things to see and do. Emma Mayoh meets the people who make it happen

Jason Cotillard (Commercial Director, Cuffe and Taylor) and Deni Middleton (Head of Cuffe and Taylor

Jason Cotillard (Commercial Director, Cuffe and Taylor) and Deni Middleton (Head of Cuffe and Taylor Platinum) - Credit: Archant

When Peter Taylor and Daniel Cuffe reignited Lytham Proms six years ago just 4,500 people attended. At the time it was a huge success. But things have changed. Today, the event, as well as catapulting the Lytham pair’s company, Cuffe and Taylor, to success, has grown to unrecognisable levels with tens of thousands of people descending on the coastal town every August. It has attracted a vast number of top acts including Tom Jones, Russell Watson, Rita Ora, Alfie Boe and a host of eighties and classical stars. There are probably few people who haven’t heard about the event in the county and it attracts millions of pounds into this part of Lancashire.

This year it is due to get even bigger. It has been renamed Lytham Festival and instead of just being held on Lytham Green over a weekend, it will now be a seven day event from August 2nd–9th, packed with events not only in the main arena but at a host of local parks, historic houses and other entertainment venues. There are 75,000 people expected to attend, almost double last year’s crowds.

Jason Cotillard, commercial director for Cuffe and Taylor, said: ‘Lytham Proms grew in such a fantastic way that it has meant we have been able to bring Lytham Festival to the town. Not only have we expanded the number of venues and the length of it but we have also added an extra night to the main arena.

‘We wanted to expand to incorporate the whole of the town, to be able to interact with more people and create an event for the whole family to enjoy. Our hope is that people will explore the town as well as the festival.’

The event has attracted a huge number of well known names in the music industry with another impressive line-up this year including McBusted, Marti Pellow, Elaine Paige and Billy Ocean as well as internationally renowned dance act Faithless – their only other outdoor concert this year will be in London. It is an event that takes months of planning – work is already underway on next year’s event.Jason said: ‘There are so many exciting things happening and it takes a lot of organising. But it says a lot when we attract the acts we do. Lytham Festival has a brilliant reputation in the industry. It’s a really special event that the Lytham community have really got behind too.

‘We do many events now all around the country but Lytham Festival is our baby. It’s the one that started it all and we’re all very fond of it. It’s local to us too and we want to put on the best event for the local community.’

As well as Cuffe and Taylor, there is an army of local people and organisations who help make Lytham Festival a success. For Thornton-based Twelve Catering, who also have their own restaurant, it is a big event. They are responsible for feeding the hundreds of people who attend a special VIP dinner each night in the main arena. They come up with a menu to wow the guests and then have to cook hundreds of meals on each day.

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It is something that Caroline Upton, who owns the company with husband Paul Moss, start planning many months in advance.

She said: ‘We started preparing a few weeks before but all of the planning and thought on what we are going to serve to the guests and how we will approach it happens a long time before that.

‘We are incredibly pleased to be one of the suppliers. It is a fantastic event to be involved with and it does really put Lytham on the map. I love every second of it.’

As well as the events in the main arena there are a host of other things taking place. One of these is the Festival of Stories at Park View 4 U, a park and community hub. The Festival of Stories, aimed at families, is the brainchild of Alexandra O’Toole, writer and founder of Fable Arts Community Interest Company. Funding issues have meant it has taken the 37-year-old three years to get the event off the ground. But it was worth the wait as there will be three days of events at the park including tales from Grasmere-based master storyteller Taffy Thomas, performances from renowned theatre companies including Ramshacklicious and Horse and Bamboo Theatre as well as acrobatics staged in the trees of Wishing Well Wood in the park. There will also appearances from leading children’s authors including Lancastrian Joseph Delaney as well as Phil Earle and Cathy Cassidy and Julian Clary willstage his first public event for children. Alexandra’s own story, The Shrimper’s Daughter, a folk tale inspired by Lytham’s heritage, will also be performed and there will be arts and crafts activities as well as much more.

Alexandra said: ‘I can’t quite believe that it’s actually happening after waiting for so long. I am absolutely thrilled. There is going to be something for people of all ages from young children to grandparents.

‘There not really been anything like this before in Lancashire and it is a big thing for the area. We’ve got everything from Story Yoga to Grandad Graffiti. There’s such a mix. It’s also making theatre and the arts really accessible and the park is going to be transformed. I’m very excited to see it all come together.’

One of the projects, & Other Stories, is being created by local pupils at AKS School. Members of the public have been asked to divulge information on postcards that they may never have told anyone before and the students, with the help of theatre company The Paper Birds, are turning it into a piece of verbatim theatre to perform during the festival.

Faye Horrocks, director of drama at AKS, said: ‘It’s a collaboration between the pupils and The Paper Birds and we’re very lucky to be doing it. The children, with help from the theatre company, will write a play bringing together all of these stories.

‘It is really intriguing what stories will be revealed. It is a fantastic project for them to really learn some new things. They are really looking forward to it.

Just down the road at Lytham Hall, a Georgian manor house, a Picnic Cinema event will be held on two evenings showing Grease and Moulin Rouge. Some of the lawned areas will be transformed into an outdoor cinema with people invited to take their own picnics. It is hoped the event will not only complement what is already happening at Lytham Festival but will also make more people aware of the hall, which is currently undergoing a multi-million pound restoration.

Marianne Blaauboer, the hall’s activity plan officer, said: ‘We already have really successful outdoor theatre and we wanted to build on that. This is something that will be completely different for us. People are videoed when they arrive and asked to say a few words about themselves. It’s not just about watching a film, it’s about getting to know people and having a good time.

‘It’s also good because we hope it will make more people come and discover us and take a look around the hall. It takes a lot of money to open the hall every day so we need people’s support. We are really looking forward to it.’

As a complement to the musical events happening on Lytham Green, just a few steps away other artists will be performing at Lowther Pavilion. Acts including Rae Morris, a local signer whose career has taken off, as well as Scouting for Girls, Rebecca Ferguson and Tenors of Rock will take to the stage. It will also host the after party celebrations from the Faithless performance featuring a set by internationally renowned act Chicane.

Roger McCann, manager at Lowther Pavilion, said: ‘For Lytham to have an event that is as big as Lytham Festival is incredible. It is a fantastic achievement. We have had enquiries for tickets from all over, even as far as Australia.

‘We’ve got a really good project here with top names involved and I think it’s going to be great. We are going to have a very busy week at Lowther Pavilion but it is also going to be a lot of fun. Everyone is looking forward to it.’

Why we love Lytham Festival

Lytham Festival also offers other, less known acts a chance to be in the spotlight including AJ Brown, a saxophonist, singer, songwriter and pianist managed by Cuffe and Taylor. He will be appearing on the same bill as Marti Pellow and Elaine Paige.

The 25-year-old, also a former member of Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, said: ‘I have played at festivals all over the world but nothing beats this. This will be my biggest gig yet.

‘This is a really big thing for me. I’m hoping having this kind of showcase will help me to get signed by a record label. It is very exciting for me to be doing this. It’s going to be great.’

Danbro are the main sponsors of Lytham Festival. For husband and wife Helen and Damian Broughton, who founded the accountancy business in 1999 and moved it to Lytham earlier this year, it was essential to support the event and the community.

Helen said: ‘Lytham is a fabulous place and supporting an event like Lytham Festival is a great opportunity for us to help in our new home in our first year here. Being a part of our community is really important to us.

‘Cuffe and Taylor are doing an amazing job staging such a wonderful event. Damian has been before and it really is incredible. We really wanted to be involved and help in whatever way we could. It’s great to be contributing to something fantastic in our town.’

Lloyds BMW Blackpool is providing cars to chauffeur the acts around in during the festival.

Ben Caman, general sales manager, said: ‘It’s something we have done for several years and there have been many famous people use our cars. It’s something we are honoured to do.

‘As a local company, we are very proud to be involved with Lytham Festival. It is a brilliant thing for the Fylde Coast.’