Does plan to revive Alnwick picnic concert hit the right note?

Jonathan Park, from Halifax, Alnwick Garden director Mark Brassell and  music industry expert Mark Hobrough are hoping to stage a concert at Bow Burn in Alnwick. 'Picture by Jane Coltman
Jonathan Park, from Halifax, Alnwick Garden director Mark Brassell and music industry expert Mark Hobrough are hoping to stage a concert at Bow Burn in Alnwick. 'Picture by Jane Coltman

An ambitious plan to revive the Alnwick picnic concerts that proved so popular over several years has been launched.

The aim is to recreate the magic of the series that saw Jools Holland, Jessie J and Status Quo play to capacity crowds in the Pastures, culminating in the aborted Tom Jones gig last year.

But first, the organisers, who have formed a steering committee, want to gauge public demand for another music event.

It is the brainchild of Jonathan Park, who works at Halifax bank in Alnwick and would like to resurrect the concerts to raise money for local charities. He would like to see local bands appearing alongside some national names, possibly over a three-day festival, but only if there is an appetite from potential concert-goers.

Jonathan said: “I’d like to start on a smaller scale and gradually grow in subsequent years.

“We have set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for people to post their thoughts.”

The group has earmarked the first weekend in September 2017 for what they are calling the Alnwick End of Summer Festival. They have the backing of the Duchess of Northumberland, who gave her approval to use the site behind the Alnwick Garden ticket office, next to Bow Burn picnic area.

They are exploring several musical genres, ranging from folk and blues, to ’80s, ’90s and current, with possibly a ‘house band’ providing the backing for bigger names to join in various sessions. People will be able to bring in their own food and drink and there will also be concessions.

Jonathan said: “I thought it would be great to relaunch the concerts to raise money for local charities – we are all giving our time for free, so it is being run as not for profit. I would love people to register support so we can make this as successful as the Alnwick Raffle I organised earlier this year.”

Alnwick Garden director Mark Brassell said: “Jonathan initially wrote to the Duchess unpacking the concept of a concert to raise funds for local charities.

“The Duchess is always keen to promote Alnwick as a destination and always supports initiatives that are in the interests of the town. She looked at the letter from Jonathan and said she supported the initiative and sent it to me to run with.

“I think it is a great opportunity to create an additional reason for people to visit Alnwick, particularly over the period of the year when visitor numbers are on the decline. Events are a great way to break seasonality and ensure a more consistent revenue stream throughout the year.”

Mark Hobrough is the musical expert behind the project.

He is originally from Warkworth, returning six years ago after running a successful music promotions company called Revolution in London for 12 years. He has worked with many big names in the industry, including Muse, Oasis and The Verve.

“When asked about the potential for a music festival in Alnwick, I thought it a very exciting proposition,” said Mark. “It’s clear from previous ‘successful’ Pastures gigs that there is a demand for live music.”

on a bigger scale both in the town and for the wider region.

“By starting something a little smaller and allowing it to develop over a few years, there is the possibility that a regular, high quality festival could establish itself and attract some exciting performers.

“The fact that it will be raising money for local charities makes it all the more attractive and the ability to involve the community has many benefits from showcasing some of the better local talent through to local traders benefitting from an influx of visitors over a weekend.

“If I can help by using a few contacts made over the past 25 years in the business to make this happen, I’m genuinely excited by that prospect. It should be a great festival with something there for everyone.”

Register your opinion

Make your thoughts about the concert idea known on Facebook by searching for Alnwick End Of Summer Festival, and on Twitter @AlnwickEOSFest