The Festival of Light is one of the annual highlights in Huddersfield, a town famed as the birthplace of rugby league and situated between Leeds and Manchester in the former industrial heartland of England. The four-day festival attracts visitors from many of the surrounding towns and cities, as well as a significant proportion of Huddersfield’s own 150,000-strong population. But with AP Security helping to manage the crowds, the 2010 event once again passed off with no problems.
Organised by Kirklees Council, the festival takes place at the beginning of December and features street theatre, live music, art installations, a food and drink market and a range of other entertainments. The various attractions are located across the town centre, so evening road closures are necessary to ensure that the thousands of visitors can move safely between them.
AP has been working at this event and others with Kirklees Council for a number of years, so it has become a seamless working relationship, staff on each side knowing how the other works.
“Our brief was primarily to manage large crowd movements between four key locations and to ensure that the integrity of all the road closures remained in place,” says AP’s Leeds office manager Emma Tattersall.
“It was no easy task when you consider the event attracts upwards of 25,000 spectators and that we were working in a very busy town centre at the peak of its holiday shopping period.”
One of the key areas for the AP team was St George’s Square, in front of the railway station and one of the busiest areas of the town centre.
“Road closures became difficult because, as well as the station itself, there are taxi ranks, night clubs and other businesses,” Emma continues. “Even though all information is sent out to these businesses in advance, some taxi drivers were not aware of them.
“This proved a challenging task, because we understand that they also have a job to do – the small businesses in the area rightly gain from this sort of event – but we have to ensure personal safety for the spectators. However, high quality planning and being able to deploy ample reserve staff meant that we managed things fine.”
Something that did add an extra layer of management to Emma’s task was the weather – the unusual amount of snow making staff welfare, as well as everything else, even more of a pressing issue.
“Overall we had 30 staff and two supervisors on site, who needed to be on duty from early morning until late in the evening,” she says. “Given the weather conditions and low temperatures, staff welfare was a priority. We rotated shifts and paid particular attention to the welfare of individual staff members, to ensure there was plenty of opportunity for them to warm up.”
With a debrief taking place straight after the event, AP’s planning is already well in progress for the 2011 Festival of Light.
“The planning starts here!” smiles Emma. “Of course we refine and add to it over the course of the year, the final plan being established four weeks prior to the event, with the last bits of ultimate fine tuning taking place a week before our staff are deployed on site.
“From our point of view the event was a great success. It proved once again that advance planning and good client liaison can overcome most unforeseen obstacles… even an untypical British winter!”
Category: General Event Industry News