Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park (BST HP) returns this June with headliners including The Strokes, Blur, Kylie Minogue, The Who and Taylor Swift as well as a whole host of other free and ticketed activity. Alun Mainwaring, Head of Events and Filming at The Royal Parks (TRP) gives an insight into what it takes to put on a world class event and how TRP works with the local community.
Q How do you work with AEG Live - what does the partnership involve?
A It is a real collaborative approach to BST HP involving our multi agency partners including Westminster City Council, Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the London Ambulance Service. We discuss and agree on all aspects of the event from the site layout, the ingress/egress plans and toilet provision to the artists who play and the food offering on site. We begin planning almost as soon as the last event finishes and regularly meet to discuss new ideas and ways to improve.
Q Can you talk us through what goes into putting on an event of this scale - what's most important and what are the challenges?
A It is a huge undertaking but we have an extremely experienced team, our Park Manager has been managing Hyde Park events for over 35 years. Our aim is to minimise the impact that major events can have on park users and the local community and our challenge is to strike a balance between the thousands of people who enjoy the events and those that come to the park for relaxation.
Q This is a relatively new event - what benefits does it bring to the Park and the surrounding area?
A BST HP started in 2013 and has proved to be a very successful event with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Lionel Richie playing. The event is so diverse, there really is something for everyone and not only is it a fantastic attraction for the local community but it also contributes to the wider London economy through hotel and restaurant bookings. AEG Live is also investing in the park, last year we opened the new Hyde Park Playground which AEG Live helped to fund. Local residents get the opportunity to buy tickets before they go on general sale via the local council and we have created a residents group who regularly meet to discuss and address local concerns. The residents group also have the chance to have a tour of the site before it opens to the public.
Q Aside from the main gigs you have a lot of activity during the week - what's the reason for that?
A It was very important for us to be able to offer something alternative to park visitors during the midweek between concerns. Historically the event site would close for the week which was a waste of the space. In 2013 AEG Live bought a fresh approach and opened the site up to offer free and ticketed activities from comedy nights, open air cinema, free Zumba and theatre for local school children. It's fantastic to see the space being used and enjoyed and adds value to what is already there. Keeping the Parade Ground open also allows regular park users such as commuters and dog walkers to continue with their routine.
Q How do you work with the local community when this kind of event is staged?
A We know that a lot of people really love the events held in the Royal Parks but equally we are aware that some do not. The residents group has been invaluable to us, it allows us to listen and address concerns and adapt and change where possible. It has been a really productive process which has seen us improve in a number of areas from the sound management, where we man the telephones during events to directly respond to sound issues along with Westminster City Council, to the areas cleansed post event, targeting specific problem locations and streets.
Q Do residents get any offers?
A Yes we work with Westminster City Council and Kensington & Chelsea to offer residents the opportunity to buy tickets before they go on general release – keep a look out in your council communications for the next offer coming soon..
Q What would you recommend people do when attending BST HP?
A During the midweek last year we hosted a comedy night with Tim Minchin which was a great success, people came with their picnics and blankets and laughed the night away so I would definitely recommend a visit during midweek. Also available during the week is the amazing farmers' market where you can pick up a buffalo burger or an organic fruit smoothie whilst taking a walk through the park. The weekends are reserved for the concerts, this is when the site comes alive - my personal highlight is watching the new and emerging acts on the Summer Stage, it's a really small intimate area where you can kick back and soak up the atmosphere – perfect to enjoy with a cold beer!
Q How do you manage so many people leaving an event like this?
A We have a highly experienced crowd and safety management team who lead on the multi agency planning, involving the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council and Transport for London. We work together to develop plans which involve making sure that everyone leaves the event safely and orderly and cause minimum impact to the local community and surrounding streets. We have gathered intelligence over the events, tracking trends and the routes that people use to leave the site. This has allowed us to concentrate on certain areas to ensure they are stewarded and part of the cleansing plan.
Q Why do you hold events?
A Events provide the opportunity to experience cultural, social and sporting activities in the open space. Our government grant has decreased year on year and we now need to generate 60% of our own income. Approximately a third of this income comes from hosting events across the Royal Parks, so by attending and enjoying BST HP visitors are contributing vital funds which go back into conserving and enhancing the parks for future generations to enjoy.
For tickets or for further information regarding BST HP go to the website
If you have any feedback regarding events in the Royal Parks please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org