Splendour Festival to return - new 5-year contract agreed for beloved event at Wollaton Park

Splendour Festival 2023 at Wollaton Hall and Deer Park
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

Music lovers can rejoice because Splendour Festival is set to return for the next five years. City council chiefs and DHP Family organisers are set to sign a new contract and end a year-long dispute to continue the beloved event at Wollaton Park.

It follows a row between the two parties which led to the cancellation of the 2024 event for the first time since its inception in 2007, discounting the disruption brought about by the pandemic. DHP Family bosses, who also run the Rock City and Rescue Rooms music venues in the city centre, blamed the Labour-run authority for 'numerous delays' which led to the summer's cancellation.

The value of the decision is £11.8m, which is the predicted turnover for DHP on the event over the duration of the contract. This will be made up of things like ticket sales, bar income, rent on food concessions/stalls and the funfair, but then will have subtracted from costs including rent of the site, fees for the performers and artists, event infrastructure, staff, and marketing.

Get the latest news straight to your phone by joining us on WhatsApp

After the completion of the two-day 2023 festival, and in the wake of performances from headliners Madness and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, the council agreed to put the contract for Spendour Festival out for competitive tender, presenting the prospect that the DHP Family - which has organised the festive since the beginning - would have to compete against other companies for the contract.

It ultimately left DHP Family bosses with not enough time to put on the 2024 event, which was cancelled in January. The council had agreed to invite offers to run the festival between 2024 and 2028, approving a decision to launch the tendering process last year.

At the time, council chiefs said the concept was originally conceived and developed between the authority and DHP Family under annually agreed terms. But papers ahead of the authority's meeting of the executive board next week show the council is finalising the approval of a new event contract with DHP, with the revised contract running from 2025 to 2029.

A decision has been made to delegate the council's Head of Events and Tourism to enter into the contract, subject to approval from the Director of Legal and Governance.

A statement in the executive board papers reads: "This is a popular attraction as part of Nottingham’s annual events and entertainment programme and has created positive recognition, economic and social benefit for the city.

"This would be lost or put at risk if these were discontinued. The cancellation of the event in 2024 has already seen a detrimental reputational impact on the City alongside a loss of income to the Council."

The tendering process meant that DHP Family had to compete against other companies for the contract, with Nottingham City Council even considering delivering the event in-house.

The city council documents add: "Nottingham City Council and local promoter DHP Family have staged the annual Splendour music festival jointly since 2007. Splendour has been targeted predominantly at Nottingham residents, with a family focussed, diverse line-up suitable for an all-ages audience.

"Revised terms between the Council and DHP were agreed within a Heads of Terms agreement that covered the period from 2018-22. This approach reflected the wider changes in the Council’s risk appetite and approach to staging events to reduce financial risks and begin the move towards a cost neutral, commercial income events model.

"This approach also sought to align our commercial terms for Splendour with other events of a similar nature staged within the city.

"Some of the changes at this time were also reflected in the wider UK festival industry. Instead of very large annual mega-festivals such as V Festival or T in the Park, most cities were now hosting some form of local / regional music festival; hence there was little or no rationale for the Council to continue to financially support a festival, that was being entirely delivered by the commercial sector in other cities.

"Subsequently this event was identified as a concession and under the Council's procurement policy and best value duty required a formal tendering process to be undertaken which commenced in 2023."

DHP Family declined to comment at this stage but in a previous statement said: "We understand the council, as owners of the Wollaton site, wanting to check that they are getting value for money for city residents from our deal.

"We are confident that's what we offer already, and that's what we can offer in the future. We have ambitious plans to make Splendour an even more popular and successful event."

The event was held for the first time over two days in 2022, and this was again the case in 2023. Previous headliners include Jake Bugg, The Specials, Manic Street Preachers, Anne-Marie and Richard Ashcroft.