Colchester Events, part of Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd (CATL), has announced a positive year for outdoor events in the town – despite over 18-months of cancellations and postponements across the UK’s leisure and entertainment industry.
Although 2021 kicked off with further lockdowns that lasted until May, the Colchester Events team bounced back to successfully deliver 45 open air events in Colchester’s Castle Park, between May and November, which attracted over 58,000 visitors to the town.
Cllr Sue Lissimore, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “It is credit to the dedication of the Colchester Events team that they were able to bring such a varied and packed programme of outdoor events to Colchester. Our highest priority was always to provide safe and enjoyable events where people could stay local but still get together in outdoor spaces to enjoy cultural events once again.”
Our Colchester BID manager Sam Good, added: “It's great to see Colchester Events putting a range of outdoor events on in Colchester Castle Park. We've seen a great increase in people wanting to spend time outdoors for activities and meeting friends and family. These events show a positive trend building back from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and demonstrate that more people are wanting to venture out to large scale events in and around the town centre.”
The first major outdoor event of the year, the Colchester Food and Drink Festival, in June, saw 8,000 visitors over the weekend. In July, visitors to Castle Park were treated to Music of the Spheres, a spectacular music and dance event from Eye Music, which was supported by the Arts Council England. Other highlights included The Medieval Fair and the Nearly Festival at Old Heath Recreation Ground, which attracted crowds of over 5,000 in late July. Whilst, in August, the Smoke and Fire Festival saw over 10,000 people gather to enjoy the UK’s largest BBQ Festival.
Headlining the summer events programme was Olly Murs, whose spectacular home coming concert from Liz Hobbs Group Ltd, one of the UK’s leading producers and promoters of concerts and events, attracted almost 10,000 fans to Castle Park. As the season drew to a close, Oktoberfest and King Coel’s Firework Display ensured another huge turnout with both seeing in excess of 8,000 visitors over the weekend.
Liz Doogan-Hobbs MBE, CEO of Liz Hobbs Group Ltd, said: “Our long-term partnership with Colchester Events continues to go from strength to strength. We value Colchester as a venue and the economic benefits the concerts bring to Colchester. We’re very excited to be bringing Simply Red to Colchester for another blockbuster event in Castle Park next summer and we’re looking forward to more announcements soon.”
To support the Covid-safe reopening of its venues and events across Colchester, CATL was delighted to have received a £90,000 award from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund in December 2020. The funding enabled CATL to implement safe practices for audiences returning to shows at Charter Hall, the Town Hall, Colchester Castle and Castle Park once lockdown restrictions had lifted.
In 2020, Colchester Events also received recognition from Visit England that its venues follow government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and was awarded We’re Good To Go status.
Cllr Lissimore added: “Colchester Events continues to cement its reputation for attracting top performers and acts touring the UK. We very much look forward to another successful year of trading in 2022.”
Colchester Events is part of Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd, the commercial company established by Colchester Borough Council in 2019. It manages several venues in the town including Charter Hall, Colchester Castle, Town Hall and Castle Park. On behalf of Colchester Borough Council, it delivers a diversity of events each year from outdoor music concerts and stand-up comedy to festivals and exhibitions. All profits are returned to the council to support the delivery of local services.