'Freedom Festival will make everyone in Hull proud'
ORGANISERS behind one of Hull's biggest festivals have vowed it will be the best yet.
This weekend's Freedom Festival could bring the total made during summer events to £4 million – giving a major boost to the city's economy.
The festival, which is now in its fifth year, is expected to attract more than 50,000 festival-goers across the four days.
According to organisers, the festival is set to be the most successful yet, with a record number of acts and performances confirmed in the line-up.
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Pete Irvine, Freedom's artistic director, said preparations are going to plan.
He said: "Everything is under control and we are on target to deliver a great festival.
"This year is going to be bigger and better than last year and, with only a few days to go, we are all very excited.
"It is almost the end of a long, hard journey since last year but we have some fantastic acts across all four days that we are sure will help make the event the most memorable yet.
"There are a few final checks that need to be done, but other than that we are good to go and even the weather looks set to be on our side."
The festival starts on Thursday and will welcome acts from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which has led to the event selling three times as many tickets for the shows as it did last year.
Changes to the layout at this year's event have been made in order to cope with the increased number of performances.
There will be three main performance tents in Humber Place, Nelson Street and Wellington Street, including a main stage in Nelson Street on Saturday and Sunday to replace Hull City Hall, which was used last year.
The decision was taken to use tents, which can hold up to 300 people, instead of the hall in order to create a better atmosphere at the shows.
Mr Irvine said the demand for tickets shows how much the festival has developed since first being staged in 2007.
"Freedom has turned into a fantastic event for Hull over the years and is one that I'm sure will continue to grow," he said.
"The acts from Edinburgh Fringe have been a huge draw for people and I wish we could put on more performances, but we just don't have the time."
Organisers have also released details of the road closures that will be in place throughout the city but hope the impact on the transport network will be minimal.
Mr Irvine said: "We understand it will be an extremely busy four days, especially at peak times, but we have put measures in place to help cope with the increased activity across the city.
"We have worked closely with Hull City Council to put the necessary measures in place, so hopefully the week will go without any major problems and everyone will enjoy the event."
Councillor Terry Geraghty, Hull City Council's portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said Freedom will be a fantastic showcase for the city.
He said: "It will be a marvellous weekend and one that will make everyone in Hull proud.
"It is one of the most exciting programmes we have put on and it has something for everybody to enjoy, no matter what age you are or what interests you have.
"It will bring yet more money into the city to help boost our economy.
"With all the events we have staged this year, including the Olympic torch relay, we estimate Hull will be given a boost of between £3 million and £4 million if each person spends between £15 and £20."
The festival will incorporate many of the city's most popular areas including the Marina, Queens Gardens and the Fruit Market.
Highlights of the festival include a performance from comedian Abandoman, the Love Cannon parade, Circus Ronaldo and Motown singer Martha Reeves.
Visit www.freedomfestival. co.uk for more information and a full list of events.