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Retro Rendezvous, the Lake District vintage festival, has confirmed dates and events for 2018.

The weekend-long extravaganza of all things vintage will take place on 13-15 July in the centre of Ulverston, the South Lakes market town dubbed as ‘Cumbria’s ‘Festival Town’.

The event originally started with Velo Retro, a vintage cycling fair founded by Alan and Alison Brenton five years ago. The organisers realised that it needed a broader appeal and so they developed Retro Rendezvous by incorporating other events.

“Fron the outset we approached a number of other local groups, and so the festival grew from there,” he said.

A family-friendly event, Retro Rendezvous now comprises Velo Retro and Ulverston Live Music. The event also features food stalls, retro markets, outdoor gin bars, a cinema showing vintage classics, live music, classic car and motorbike displays.

“Ulverston Live Music was created many years ago to showcase national and international touring acts in Ulverston,” Brenton explained. The events team organises a monthly gig for 10 months of the year and a couple of annual showcase events at the town’s Coronation Hall venue to fund the programme.

Brenton said Ulverston is now a hotbed of live music from all genres and that Velo Retro continues to be a retro cycling event ranging from the steady to the very challenging – all of which have to be completed on bikes at least 30 years old and of course in period kit.

Also from the onset, the organisers have tried to square the circle of providing an event which is largely free, while accepting that grant funding is becoming increasingly difficult to access. “The event is largely dependent on selling market stall space and sponsorship primarily from a number of small, local businesses,” Brenton commented.

New features

Velo Retro 2018 will take place between 13-15 July featuring the Le Loafeur, a smooth ride bike which is a 47km loop of Coniston Water. targeting intermediate riders is the À L’ancienne Classic at 84km along Coniston Water, Windermere, Esthwaite Water, and Wray Castle and checkpoint at the Sir John Barrow Monument in Ulverston.

The Great Western is a new event for this year. It has been designed to add a country adventure challenge to the event. The ride comprises 123km featuring Kiln Bank Cross, Wrynose Pass, Hawkshead Hill and Grizedale Moor Top in one loop. The ride replaces The Mighty Corinthian, a 300km event that is set to return in 2019.

Brenton told Access that primary venues in Ulverston Live Music include:

  • The Roxy Cinema: retro film, music and cocktails night
  • The Coronation Hall as a music venue
  • Monk Coniston House and Wray Castle supporting Velo Retro

Retro rendezvous

“The event is very organic; we welcome new providers into the space, so there will be masses of small events in pubs, shops, restaurants etc in support of the festival…right up to ‘Bluegrass at the Bike Shop….which is exactly what it says on the tin!” Brenton commented.

Growing audience

Attendance at Retro Rendezvous has been on an upward trend. “[We have seen] steady growth up to 2016 (Saturday is always busier). 2017 featured biblical rain on Saturday so we had a dip. The estimate for 2018 is IRO 5,000 visitors,” Brenton said.

Commenting on the production stage, Brenton told Access that key elements are now in the confirmation stage. “We are still working on new elements as we seek to develop the event and in particular the attraction to families each year.”

Brenton said the calendar and street space are the main challenges for putting on the event each year. In 2018 Retro Rendezvous is sharing the town with the Furness Traditional Music Festival, simply due to the way in which the calendar falls for 2018.

“This is good for visitors as it gives more activity and variety, it does, however, create space and logistical challenges. We are considering moving the whole event under canvas at Ford Park in Ulverston from 2019 to avoid this clash,” he revealed.