The Wickham Festival is here to stay! The best event yet has been crowned by the announcement of a two-year deal to stay on the same site.
There had been fears that the hugely popular four-day fiesta might have to move following the death of landowner Tom Houghton last year.
However his son Stuart has signed a new agreement to allow the festival to remain until at least 2020.
Organiser Peter Chegwyn said: “We are absolutely delighted to be staying where we are as this really is the perfect home for us.
“We were very saddened by Tom’s death on a personal level as he was a great friend to me and to the festival. We did worry briefly how it might affect us but his son has been hugely supportive.
“He attended all four days and, like the rest of the crowd, he fell in love with the unique family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere. He has seen we run a very good event, not with military precision but one the audience really likes. It just works.
“It is great to know we are here for at least two more years and hopefully many more as it is such a wonderful location for us and for the thousands who come here.
“It truly is the best of all worlds as this scenic setting feels right out in the countryside but the village is just five minutes walk away for people to stock up on provisions. It is great for local businesses and we are so grateful for their support and that of the parish council.
“It is a partnership which really works. And it is not just a financial thing. The people in the village really enjoy having us here. They like the people who come here. There is never any trouble and long may it continue.”
The announcement comes on the back of another hugely successful event which saw record crowds enjoy music from Squeeze, Steve Harley, Tom Robinson, the Undertones and many more.
Chegwyn added: “It has been our best yet – for many reasons. The wonderful sunshine clearly helped but we had some amazing artists and record attendances including many who were here for the first time.
“It was very heartening to hear how much they enjoyed the close-knit feel. Although we can accommodate up to 7,000 quite comfortably, it is a bit of a secret treasure and we are happy to keep it that way.
“We don’t want to be another Glastonbury. We want to keep the family-friendly, chilled atmosphere which is the secret of our success. There is plenty for children to do and they can roam the site unattended while parents enjoy top-class food and drink, tour the many stalls or just listen to the excellent music.
“We have already had hundreds of people booking for next year, august 1-4. We don’t know who the bands will be though we do have a wish-list including a couple of international artists we are hopeful of securing. But fans do know that all the acts will be top quality and crucially the atmosphere, the attractions and now the location will be the same.”
Four-day tickets will be £180 but those who book by the end of August can get an £80 discount via the booking forms being emailed out or £60 via this website.
Chegwyn said: “It is our way of thanking our regulars who turn up year after year and who trust that we will give them what they want. We are very grateful for that.
“Tickets are just £100 if they book now which is incredible value for four days where there is so much top quality entertainment. And in keeping with our relaxed policy, we are not too fussy if people are a little slow to send in their booking forms.
“They may be away on holiday or have spent all their money on beer! As long as we get the payment by early September people will still get the full discount and many have already done so.”