As Rochdale's Flying Horse Hotel prepares to welcome the crowds for its busiest day of the year, manager Patricia Boothman looks ahead to this month's Rochdale Feel Good Festival.
What can we expect this year?
The main stage music kicks off at lunchtime, there's a big food and drink village open from 11am and lots more for children with a Family Zone open from 11am until 5pm. That will include a life sized interactive game zone as well as live shows and theatre. As well as that there are music stages in the indoor venues and one of our strongest ever main stage line-ups with Feeder headlining and Britpop legends Cast on the bill too.
When did you first get involved with Rochdale Feel Good Festival?
We've sponsored the main stage since 2009 so this is our 10th year, a milestone really. It's a very big event for the town and something we have to prepare for well in advance. A lot of our regular customers come down but it draws large numbers of people from outside the borough now as well as locals who meet up with old friends and make a day of it. We all have to be on our toes and everything needs to run smoothly, so it's a team effort and unlike any other day of the year.
A very busy day then?
The festival is massive for us, not just running the outdoor bars and the pub on the day but also the official warm up events we do. On Thursday, 16 August 2018 we have an open mic night, on Friday, 17 August 2018 Rochdale duo 'Two for the Road' and brilliant covers band 'The Shivers' will be playing.
And you host live music inside during the festival?
On Saturday, in between acts on the main stage, we'll be hosting our own indoor festival stage, including a superb Muse tribute, local band Featherteeth, singer/songwriter Dan Donnelly from The Wonder Stuff and ending the night with party band 'Scratchy.' Rochdale dance funk band The Alchemists who play the main stage during the day are doing a finale show inside so that's going to be special too. The festival has always championed local artists and it's great when you see new bands that have played the festival going on and doing really well. The Recreation won a slot on the main stage last year and are going from strength to strength in 2018.
Who's been your favourite headliners?
Razorlight were amazing and we got the biggest crowd ever. The atmosphere was brilliant. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were excellent, Badly Drawn Boy was another memorable one for me. We've had Feeder albums on repeat for ages and they are one of those bands that have provided the soundtrack to a lot of people's lives. Classic tracks that have really stood the test of time from a real hit making band, but they've adapted and their new material is quality too. I'd say Grant Nicholas is one of England's finest singer-songwriters and his ability to create great tracks time and time again has enabled them to enjoy such a long career.
Being a free festival must help?
We're not complacent. 11 years on, the festival is always improving and there are many other festivals in the region these days competing for attention. There are so many things for people to do at weekends that we can't assume just because we're free that people will come down. The offer still has to be strong and the event needs to connect with your audiences. Even though its free entry visitors still spend money getting here and whilst at the festival so we need to focus on making sure they have a great time, show them what Rochdale has to offer and give them reasons to return. But we are lucky now that many of our visitors are loyal and thousands do come back year after year, which we really appreciate. Again the festival has been repeatedly mentioned in the national media as one of the UKs top free festivals. It's great that local businesses and the council work together to put on an event of this size.
And you can have your festival breakfast at The Flying Horse?
Yes. We'll be open from 8am, serving full English 'Feel Good' breakfasts whilst you flick through the programme and plan your day.
For updates, follow the official Rochdale Feel Good Festival on