Organisers give concert series a big thumbs-up

Il Divo on stage in Alnwick. Picture by Jane ColtmanIl Divo on stage in Alnwick. Picture by Jane Coltman
Il Divo on stage in Alnwick. Picture by Jane Coltman
Organisers of the series of concerts that burst into Alnwick last week have hailed the event a great success, while town traders have reported bumper takings.

Dubbed Summer House Sounds, the four concerts brought household names from the music industry to the Pastures beneath Alnwick Castle.

Nile Rodgers and CHIC started the ball rolling, with England’s semi-final match against Croatia being shown at the start of the evening, ‘due to popular demand’. They were followed by Sir Tom Jones and Into the Ark on Friday; Madness, The Lightning Seeds and The Tailormade on Saturday; and Il Divo, Micahel Ball and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Bring It North on Sunday.

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The HospiceCare helpers.The HospiceCare helpers.
The HospiceCare helpers.

Peter Taylor, director of promoters Cuffe and Taylor, said: “All in all,the Summer House Sounds concerts at Alnwick Castle were a great success. This is the first time we have worked with this stunning venue and we were pleased with how everything went.

“We are aware there were some issues regarding seating on Sunday evening but this was all resolved to enable everyone to have a great evening and the general feedback from customers has been fantastic.”

Meanwhile, Alnwick traders are singing in delight after experiencing bumper takings during concert week, with one pub enjoying its busiest ever time.

With the sun shining and music fans pouring into the town in their thousands, businesses were packed with customers.

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On Saturday – on what was a balmy summer’s evening – a sea of Madness fans crowded in the town centre, before heading to the Pastures.

The pavements along Narrowgate and Bondgate Within were packed as revellers gathered outside pubs such as The Dirty Bottles, Black Swan and The George.

Meanwhile, crowds of people sat on the Harry Hotspur statue lawn, at the bottom of Pottergate.

Mark Jones, who re-opened The Dirty Bottles in 2015, said: “It was our busiest week we’ve ever had and everyone had a great time and there was no trouble.

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“I think the whole town was the same and people were saying it was like the Alnwick Fair Week back in the day.”

Lisa Aynsley, who runs nearby men’s fashion shop, Hotspur 1364, added that Alnwick was bursting at the seams.

David Taylor, who runs Bow House bed and breakfast and is vice-chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, also felt the concerts had been a boost for town traders and accommodation providers.

He said: “We had been booked up for months and we kept getting calls from people wanting accommodation right until the last minute.”

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Amina Begum, from the town’s Mivesi restaurant, set up a street-food stall inside the concert arena and reported brisk business.

David Hawke, head of Alnwick Castle Enterprises, said: “Each concert was superb and our concerts brought thousands of new visitors to Alnwick which will have had a very positive effect on the local economy – not only in Alnwick but in wider Northumberland.

“We hope to build on this highly successful experience with similar, high profile concerts in future years.”

HospiceCare North Northumberland was the chosen charity for the concerts and its volunteers, armed with collection buckets, managed to raise more than £3,000.