As the government have outlined that from 19th July Covid restrictions are set to be dropped and those remaining industries that have been shut since the start of the pandemic can now start reopening without social distancing measures Helen Sanderson was keen to speak with Richard Dyer, a key player in our local events industry
Richard said: “The pandemic isn’t over but the loosening of restrictions is coming as a result of the success of the vaccination drive. We’re going to see nightclubs, gigs and festivals all be able to go ahead for the rest of the summer and beyond. Unfortunately, this news has come too late for many events that have had to postpone until next year, particularly festivals that were never offered adequate insurance by the government.”
Richard Dyer co-founded Skiddle with Ben Sebborn in 2001 initially as a what’s on guide, out of frustration for there not being enough online information for the events they love. Both gig promoters and big ravers, their passion for music events in the north of England and beyond formed the business’ bedrock, quickly expanding across the UK and further afield. Richard said: “In 2006 we started selling tickets, and in the decade since have become one of the UK’s most loved ticketing services. We sell for all the big names, Reading & Leeds, Creamfields and Warehouse Project, but we’re not a business that focuses solely on the well-known brands. We love to get our hands dirty helping promoters grow boutique offerings, from intimate gigs and club nights, through to grassroots festivals, comedy nights, food and drink events and more. Our staff are made up of an avid bunch of event fans, who are committed to making ticketing better.
“Now over the years we have relished the challenge and done everything we can and excel in our standards. We’ve won awards for our customer service, and review sites rate us highly, with reviews.co.uk scoring at 4.52 out of 5 and Trustpilot a 4.4 out of 5. The last 15 months haven’t been the easiest on the events industry, and whatever you think of how ticketing works, it’s probably not that simple. There has been an EXCEPTIONAL amount of work generated by this pandemic and for all our friends at every ticket outlet across the country it has been far from easy.”
“Initially we planned for the 21st June as freedom day. Nightclubs would open, large events and festivals would be allowed to happen. These events of course need planning, and money, time and guidance. For years the event industry has successfully complied with many rules and regulations whether that be the number of door staff to the number of toilets. Now we look forward to our next freedom day – Monday 19th July – with hope, and following the recent announcements, this looks like our best chance of normality yet! We know the demand is there, festival ticket sales on the site increased by 3,999 per cent in March 2021 compared to sales in the same period in the previous year. So we can’t wait to get people back on those dancefloors as soon as possible!”
So with fingers crossed and a huge dose of hope resting on Boris’ plans to drop most restrictions on the 19th July, Richard and his team are planning and prepping for their late summer festival, Highest Point. Highest Point is a three-day festival set in the grounds of Williamson Park, Lancaster. Now in its third year the festival is set to really cement itself in the festival calendar with a massive line up of artists including Rag N Bone Man, Becky Hill, Rudimental, James, Clean Bandit and Wilkinson.
Highest Point Festival really started life as A Wing back in 2014 with irregular parties held inside the old Lancaster Prison. After a very successful two years with over 20 parties featuring Pete Tong, Derrick Carter, High Contrast and Mark Knight the owner of the prison, the Queen, kicked them out and they moved to Williamson Park to stage the first ever outdoor Hacienda Classical show. This sold out in hours.
Highest Point was born on that day in May 2016 with the first festival in 2018 with a crowd of 12,000. 2019 grew with a bigger line up and a sell out capacity of 15,000. Highest Point was co-founded by Richard Dyer (co-founder of Skiddle), Jamie Scahill (co-founder of Funkademia and Manchester Union Brewery, pictured above) along with Holly Wignall (Events Live) late, great Chris Glaba.
This year on the 3rd and 4th September Highest Point will host over 100 artists on six stages including the Chris Glaba Memorial Stage which is an annual stage dedicated to one of the founding members of the A Wing club night, who sadly passed away after a short battle with cancer in 2016.
Here’s hoping that the governments plan come to fruition and we all get to enjoy live music and dancing once again very, very soon. I for one can not wait!