First acts revealed for new music festival in Redbourn

PUBLISHED: 10:10 22 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:10 22 December 2016

Jason Donovan

Jason Donovan

Archant

Top names such as Jason Donovan and Bonnie Tyler have been unveiled as performers at a three-day summer festival to be held at the Redbourn Showground next year.

Rebecca FergusonRebecca Ferguson

There had been some delays in releasing the names of the acts performing in the Meraki Festival in August, which is being organised by Meraki, the company which has been responsible for the entertainment at the St Albans Christmas Market.

But Meraki owner, Kerry Marks, said this week that contractual obligations had meant a delay in posting names on the website and they should be up by today. (Thursday)

Jason Donovan and Bonnie Tyler are among the acts who will be performing at the festival together with Rebecca Ferguson, Odyssey, Natalie Williams’ Sould Family, Jo Harman and Simon McBride.

At no cost to the council, Meraki offered to hold a miniature festival at the St Albans Christmas Market to showcase next year’s event.

OdysseyOdyssey

But when the council decided to accept the company’s offer, there was criticism from local performers who normally performed at the Christmas market, that they had been shunned.

Instead the council laid on a couple of days of entertainment by local performers at the city’s Charter Market.

Kerry said this week that next year’s festival would have a dedicated stage for local performers, a number of whom had performed in the Meraki tepee at the Christmas market.

She went on: “We are also working with local charities. A lot of our focus and work is based on community. All the bars, food and providers on site will be local.

“The goal of this event is to create a community festival that everyone gets involved in. It will not just be about music.”

She explained that Meraki has sold Early Bird tickets at a discounted price at the Christmas market because the names of the performers had not been released. Online tickets were due to be released today (Thursday).

* The 2016 Christmas market has been hailed as a success with a 15% increase in visitors over last year.

Performance figures released to St Albans cabinet on Tuesday night showed that the market in the cathedral’s Vintry Gardens had attracted 118,000 visitors across the 25 days it was open - last year visitor figures were 103,000.

More people had visited the market on special coach trips than previously.

The market traditionally runs until the last Sunday before Christmas to allow sufficient time to clear the site to prepare for the busy Christmas period at the cathedral. During the opening period it ran throughout the weekends and there were several late night openings.

The cabinet heard that the free entertainment was just one of a number of improvements to the market that had been made this year. Others included better lighting and the relocation of the bar to a more central position to provide a focal point for visitors.

Cllr Beric Read, the council’s portfolio holder for community engagement and localism, said: “Now in its fourth year, the Christmas market is more popular than ever. It attracts visitors to St Albans at a critical time for our retail businesses and adds substantially to the festive ambience.”

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