JERSEY’S biggest music festival could become a three-day event if this year’s comeback proves successful, one of the organisers has said.
Weekender Festival is due to return to Trinity in September for the first time since 2019, following a Covid-enforced break, which Warren Le Sueur said allowed the team to ‘refocus on how we come back bigger and better’.
And, for the first time, Weekender will run a special Friday night show headlined by Welsh rockers Stereophonics with support from Eurovision hero Sam Ryder, indie band Pale Waves and post-punk group Stone.
Mr Le Sueur said that having made several attempts to secure Stereophonics in the past, the support from the parish in allowing the festival to run for an extra night had made the booking possible.
‘They have always been a main target as a headline artist,’ he said. ‘Every year we’d inquire and it’s never happened. That position didn’t change when we moved from Jersey Live to Weekender. We have maintained good communication with the parish [during Covid] and they have been supportive throughout. They suggested considering a Friday night.
‘With the parish being supportive and saying they could resource it, that gave us the freedom to go and seek the appropriate headliner. We went straight to Stereophonics – as we do each year – and they said they were available. We are also fortunate, whether by luck or by timing, to have managed to get Sam Ryder, who is a bit of the man of the moment.’
And Mr Le Sueur said that while running an extra night had made things ‘more challenging’, there could be scope for a full three-day festival if this year’s event was successful.
‘If the demand is there, which currently it seems to be, and all goes well, then it will be a discussion between the parish and ourselves if it is something that we feel is appropriate to do again,’ he said. ‘Three-night events allow us a little more flexibility in the booking process. An act that may be unavailable for a Saturday or Sunday might be available on the Friday.
‘We’ve got 7,000 weekend tickets rolled over [for the Saturday and Sunday festival] so, logistically, we couldn’t offer a full weekend for all three days. It had to be treated as a bit of a bolt-on event this year.’
The 6,500-capacity Friday night show will be a slimmed-down version of the usual Weekender, as the popular dance arena will not be open.
Mr Le Sueur admitted that the previous two years, during which the vast majority of large-scale events were cancelled due to the pandemic, had been challenging for the Weekender team.
He said: ‘We were on the Visitor Attraction and Events Scheme. We had to take the business bounce-back loan to see us through. We are a small team and it was about trying to remain positive and confident, which has been tricky, particularly as there was never any real assurances that it could come back in the same way.
‘But we are here, we are back and we want people to trust us. Weekender has never disappointed. We always deliver and we aim to do so in the same manner with an extra night. We are thankful to that parish agencies for supporting us in that.
‘The priority for us is to make the new Friday a success and, by delivering the Stereophonics and Sam Ryder, we are confident that will happen.’
Weekender is due to take place on Friday 2, Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September at the Royal Jersey Showground.
Other acts appearing across the weekend include The Jacksons, Jax Jones, Tom Walker and The Proclaimers.