Hundreds of thousands of people descended on Greater Manchester at the weekend to attend Parklife festival and shows by Ed Sheeran, The Killers and Alicia Keys at three of the city’s largest venues.
As well as 80,000 people attending the LN Gaiety-owned Parklife at Heaton Park from 11-12 June, Ed Sheeran played the first of four shows at the Etihad Stadium (cap. 60,000) on Thursday, before The Killers and Alicia Keys performed at Emirates Old Trafford (50,000) and AO Arena (21,000) respectively on Saturday.
According to Parklife and The Warehouse Project founder Sacha Lord, who is also night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, more than 300,000 people attended music events in the city at the weekend, which is expected to generate around £21.7m for the local economy.
Following Parklife’s successful return last September after selling out in 78 minutes, the Engine No. 4-produced festival returned this weekend to host acts such as 50 Cent, Tyler the Creator, Lewis Capaldi and Bicep.
Engine No.4 director Jon Drape told Access that one of the positives for the UK’s largest metropolitan festival this year was the addition of many branded stages and activations by companies such as JD Sports, White Claw and Bacardi, which helped increase revenue.
Among the festival’s nine stages was the Hangar, which used to be an indoor area that hosted up to 10,000 people. Its curved roof and walls were removed by Engine No.4 last year to increase ventilation for Covid-19 safety reasons. Drape said this was kept the same this year after its success in September.
Engine No.4 director and Parklife operations director Will McHugh said the new Round Stage – the festival’s only indoor structure this year that was modelled on a stage at The Warehouse Project – was a “great, atmosphere generating” addition.
This year the festival had different security vendors, with around 1,200 security staff employed at the event. Following a tender process, the festival brought in Stambridge and Titan to work alongside its existing contractors such as Showsec, Primary and Task. McHugh said the festival’s security operation is split into 21 different lots and each one is self-contained in terms of supervision and management.
The festival had around 4,500 people working on-site both days, two and a half weeks after the build started at Heaton Park. In terms of crew shortage challenges, Drape said, “We felt it hard in September. Forewarned is forearmed – as soon as we got through September, we were jumping on these issues, which is why we’ve taken the approach for security to make sure that by getting a number of different suppliers, we’ve got more resilience and redundancy in that workflow.
“The same goes for site crew as well – we employ them all directly and they’re very loyal so we’ve got a good in-house workforce which gives that dependability.”
Unlike last year when New Order played on the eve of the festival, Heaton Park only hosted two days of events this year. Next up for Engine No. 4 is its usual summer festival lineup of Bluedot (21-24 July), Kendall Calling (28-31 July) and Lost Village (26-29 August). It will also be handling production for the first time at Towersey festival on 26-29 August, as well as its usual work on The Warehouse Project, which begins its 2022 season on the same weekend.