Hull Freedom Festival 'best yet': 75,000 enjoy urban carnival
FREEDOM Festival 2012 has been hailed the most successful yet, with more than 75,000 visitors soaking up the atmosphere at the weekend.
Organisers were initially worried about pre-sale tickets for shows at the new Teatro Spiegeltent at Hull Marina. But they were pleasantly surprised as families flooded the festival site and a number of productions sold out.
Director Peter Irvine, of Unique Events, said: “Many people have said this year has been the best ever, including businesses who have benefited greatly from the number of visitors.
“We’ve shown Hull at its best and we are deeply committed to continuing the festival for years to come.”
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Businesses had their busiest weekend of the year as fans crammed into cafés, pubs and exhibition spaces.
Mr Irvine, the creative force behind Freedom, said the aim this year was to create a “coherent festival arena” with stages just a short distance away from each other.
He said: “The event is now in its fifth year and I think Hull Marina is possibly the best place for it in Yorkshire.
“It is an area that has not been spoilt and has become a creative environment.
“We spread the events across the city more last year but focusing everything in this area of Hull has worked to generate an atmosphere and create an identity.
“Freedom has come of age in 2012 and now its future depends on Hull City Council supporting it again and us working together.”
Mr Irvine said the team of 40 people from Unique Events were able to work better with a temporary box office on site and a number of shows in the Teatro Spiegeltent sold out.
MORE ON THE FREEDOM FESTIVAL
More than 3,000 people packed into the tent in Humber Place to see the likes of vintage glamour queen Lily La Scala, comedy act Abandoman and funny man Patrick Monahan.
Mr Irvine said: “We produced about 3,000 posters but we were a bit worried about the tent because it was new and people didn’t know what it was all about.
“Quite a few of the acts have had sell-out shows in Edinburgh but sometimes that doesn’t mean a great deal over here.
“There has been such a unanimous vote of confidence this year and social media has definitely helped with people tweeting and posting comments about the event.”
Pauline Davis, corporate director for regeneration at Hull City Council, said not only had the festival seen more visitors than ever before but there hadn’t been any trouble.
She said: “It’s been a safe event and everyone has loved the acts, and, of course, the sunshine.
“We had a lot of events to compliment the shows, including the Freedom picnic and bandstand acts in Queen’s Gardens.
“There has been such diversity and for every £1 spent on Freedom, £10 is put into the local economy.”
Billy Spicer, who runs the Green Bricks pub in Humber Dock Street, was one of many people who benefited from the amount of people on the marina.
Having taken about £15,000 on the bar during Saturday alone he said his sales had doubled throughout the weekend.
Mr Spicer said: “The marina is gorgeous – there is no better place to hold an event like Freedom.
“There’s definitely been a knock-on effect for businesses like ours, which is great during the recession.
“I hope the council realises this area has potential.”
The festival highlights for many over the weekend were headline acts Spiritualized and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
MP Alan Johnson let visitors have their say during a political debate yesterday, before an afternoon of free music with Beverley Folk Festival. A closing party was held with singer-songwriter Mark Morris who made his name fronting Indie band The Bluetones at Pave in Princes Avenue.
Mr Irvine said: “I feel we got the programme right this year. People have been really cooperative and it just goes to show what can be done in Hull.”