The Duke - October 22, 2014

TOWER AND THE GLORY Blackpool may have reacquired the Rebellion punk fest but it needs to do more on the music festivals front

TOWER AND THE GLORY Blackpool may have reacquired the Rebellion punk fest but it needs to do more on the music festivals front

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A lot can happen when you are away on holiday. Last weekend I returned from a break in Yorkshire (well, it’s where I’m from so you will have to forgive me!) to discover Blackpool had lost a friendly airport which just about everyone seemed to love and wanted to keep, and gained a no-frills four-star hotel which just about everyone seems to hate and doesn’t want to see built.

Social media – that fusion of Greek chorus and self-centred outpourings – has been awash with yeasayers and naysayers, all about as likely to have their opinions listened to as the Save Our Syndicate pressure group was of keeping the country’s largest nightclub from becoming a car park.

Viewing Blackpool’s far- reaching loss and gain from afar (albeit just the East Coast) was interesting if only because of the inevitability of both.

At the end of the day how many of us wish we’d used the airport more and how many us know how soulless many large business-market orientated hotels can be? But surely all of us realise how little you and I can do about things once certain other people decide what is going to be done?

Which brings me to something that perhaps can be developed to fill hotel rooms with visitors who will now have to arrive by road or rail – Blackpool Music Festival.

You probably missed it this year. And last year. Please catch it next year. Before it’s too late.

For the unenlightened, this year’s edition featured around 175 acts performing for peanuts, pocket money or less in 25 venues across the coast – all marshalled by dozens of enthusiastic volunteers over a (very) long weekend.

We are not talking Woodstock or Glastonbury so it all passed by pretty much unnoticed by all except local rock devotees and was certainly under-funded (to put it mildly) by the three Fylde coast councils.

I only mention this because while it was taking place I was in Whitby and Scarborough – two resorts that have benefited greatly from the fashion for festivals.

We’d actually arrived during a few days respite from goth, surf, folk, rock, retro and other gatherings – all of which are heavily postered and promoted along the coast. And all of which are well attended by locals and visitors alike.

Back home we seem almost embarrassed by the idea of having to attract visitors for reasons other than seven miles of golden 
sand.

Alright, Blackpool has got Showzam! every February but after several years still doesn’t know quite what to do with it. And there’s the annual Rebellion punk fest which we lost to Morecambe for a while because of the resort’s indifference to its difference.

But what else?

Blackpool Tory councillor Tony Williams noted on Facebook recently that Lancaster was “jammed with people enjoying their music festival” and pledged (if a Facebook posting classes as a pledge): “If we take the council back in May this is something I want to support – Blackpool’s own music festival – and help fund and make it a regular and growing event in the town.” Let’s hope he can.

But there are 52 weekends to fill each year in the several different resorts and towns governed by our three councils. Lytham and St Annes have looked around and found gaps in the market, Fleetwood is clinging onto a new-look folk gathering. It’s a start.

Blackpool would do well to find its own niches and I don’t particularly mean a Stag & Hen Reunion Weekend or a Fast Food Festival – though they would both do terrific business and maybe even fill that new hotel when (or if) it opens.

Twitter ye not, but apparently I’m still classed as middle aged

I was a little surprised to read that “middle aged Baby Boomers are now so obsessed with social media that they take their number of virtual friends as more important to their self-esteem than experiences they have in the “real” world.”

I was even more surprised that for the purposes of market researchers Opinium who conducted the survey of 2,000 people for The Future Laboratory (a “trend forecasting, brand strategy and consumer insight” agency – whatever on earth that is) 
I’m still classed as middle aged.

I’ll go along with whatever they say just to still be included in their 49 to 68 Middle Aged band (18 to 33 are Millenials, 34 to 48 are Generation X – while under-18s and over- 68s are presumably far too worldly-wise or otherwise occupied to be bothered with any of this nonsense).

Anyway we MAs now apparently put the quantity of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter virtual friends ahead of financial wealth, material possessions and a rich and varied social life as indicators of success.

We have, it seems, replaced “the intimacy of dinner table and cocktail party” discussions with “sharing with the world at large” – primarily because we can exaggerate more or just downright tell lies online.

Surely not?