Tonight Lytham Green will light up once more and tens of thousands of music lovers will spend a night on the waterfront to soak up the atmosphere for a rather special opening of the Lytham Festival.
Now in its 10th year, the event is billed as Lancashire’s “largest and best loved live music festival”.
It promises to be quite the party occasion and co-director Peter Taylor, who founded the festival with friend and business partner Daniel Cuffe says this year will be the most spectacular yet.
Around 75,000 people, more than half from the Fylde coast, will venture to the Green over the next five nights to catch international super star acts, including headliner Rod Stewart, who will perform in the quaint seaside town for the very first time.
The festival in the last nine years has hosted big name artists like Tom Jones, Bryan Adams, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Faithless, Rita Ora and classical stars such as Michael Ball and many more.
And Peter says they had very little idea how a festival would evolve when they first curated a community concert one night on Lytham Green, featuring Lesley Garett and Alfie Boe in 2009.
That first event still attracted a crowd of 4,500 –but it has grown beyond all recognition since then.
“It’s still our festival and we’re so proud of it,” Peter says.
Next year the ambitions are to secure a “UK exclusive”.
Peter says: “We’ve set the bar now, you can’t go back. The groundwork has been done and we’ve built such great relationships, we’re talking to and attracting some of the greatest artists in the world.
“That comes with some level of expectation.
“We need to look forward, how we build on the experience for everyone, that means being creative and making it an event to stand out but keeping accessible for our audiences and I think that is still quite unique.
“We’re not afraid to switch things up and now we have to be flexible when you’re attracting such big names.
“I remember after the first year and we announced Status Quo would be coming to The Green and the response was ‘Oh my God, how have you managed that? Fast forward and this week Kylie and Rod Stewart will be up on stage.
“It is 10 years but it doesn’t get any easier - we obviously have more of an idea for what we’re doing now but this year with the biggest line-up yet we have upped the game and there are a lot of different things to factor in.
“It’s different as we have a whole new stage to accommodate a proper production, special effects. It’s going to be spectacular.”
The success of the event, which was rebranded Lytham Festival from Lytham Proms in 2015, saw Daniel and Peter establish the Cuffe and Taylor brand and in the last 12 months the business has branched out with its own theatre touring division.
The promoters have sold more than 180,000 tickets for shows in that time.
But while Peter is very proud of the company’s growth in the live entertainment industry, he says it was only made possible with him and Daniel having been able to host that night in Lytham in 2009.
“The way we’ve been able to build and evolve all comes down to Lytham itself, it’s the USP and the most curious thing about this festival next to all the others.
“It is beautiful – this little seaside town has its own festival.”
Peter adds the support of its residents and businesses and wider community have been crucial to its success,.
“In festival week and in the run up I don’t think some people even know how much they help, even just last minute buys or coffee runs,” he explains.
“Lytham is the event’s unique selling point - the whole town makes it work.
“It is not a city, it is not an arena, you’re not pulling up in a multi-storey car park, it’s a beautiful town and it offers an experience from the minute a new visitor steps off the train.
“It has everything - cafes, restaurants, independent shops, Lytham in Bloom, it looks amazing and you don’t get that anywhere else, for any other festival.
“But it is also an event for the town, for the community and every year there is such an excitement, a buzz about the place in the lead up and it’s great how everyone gets to be part of it.
“It’s now being compared with other big festivals, we’re up there with the likes of Isle of Wight and Wilderness and we’re so proud of Lytham’s unique appeal.”
Cuffe and Taylor are now part of the Live Nation group which allowed them to expand their reach and make partnerships with the likes of Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Bryan Adams, Noel Gallagher, Alfie Boe, Stereophonics and Lewis Capaldi.
But Peter says the Cuffe and Taylor brand is very much engrained and will always remain at the heart of the festival, he adds: “I think when the partnership came in Dan and I were no longer involved, we got asked ‘ have you retired now?’
“But this was and remains a very big part of our lives, we love it and it is very much a family, Dan’s mum Michelle is still doing the backstage catering.
“It is and will always be our festival - that will never change, it’s in our blood and we’re so incredibly proud and grateful to still be doing it.
“As long as people continue to support it and keep on buying tickets we’ll strive to keep making it better.
“It’s going to be an exciting week and long may it continue.”