The future of St Annes’ fast-growing Kite Festival looks to have been assured by a partnership between Fylde Council and the event’s founding organisers.
This year’s Festival will take place on August 9, 10 and 11 – three weeks earlier than the last two years because of tides – and the council will run and promote it in similar fashion to the similarly highly-successful 1940s Festival, which will be staged for the 10th time in Lytham the following weekend.
Both events have attracted growing attendances of tens of thousands of visitors in recent years and the council’s tourism and leisure chairman Coun Cheryl Little says there is great scope for the local economy in both being run along similar lines.
Although funding and other specific details of the partnership are yet to be announced, the council’s involvement looks set to remove the uncertainty over the Kite Festival’s future which lingered even after it attracted some 80,000 people for its seventh annual staging last September.
The volunteer organisers, led by kite enthusiast Pat May, have seen the event grow rapidly since first staging it in 2012, but were constantly plagued by fund-raising issues and made pleas for donations during the last Festival after trying to muster support ahead of it.
Coun Little said: “I am so pleased that this popular annual family event is back for another fantastic year and that Fylde Council are able to ensure this event remains firmly on the calendar of what is a growing number of events each year.
“The passion of Pat May and the kite organising team is obvious and it is great that the council can work in partnership to ensure the delivery of a successful weekend which is the busiest of the year for the town.
“It is a similar situation to the 1940s weekend which we are delighted to have seen grow to such an extent over the last few years.
“It’s wonderful how many people the events bring to Fylde and we are delighted to do what we can to help them prosper.”
Mr May said: “The St Annes International Kite Festival has grown to be such a popular event over the years and for Fylde Council to work so closely with the kite committee means we can really focus on delivering a spectacular event which I know is so popular.”
The Festival, which has attracted growing international involvement as well as being rated one of the top events of its kind in the UK, was held in late July for its first five years and switched to the first weekend of September for 2017 because of tides.
That allowed the introduction of a Friday evening ‘night fly’ as darkness fell, which was a particularly big hit in balmy conditions last year, attracting a bumper turnout of at least 20,000.
Although the event has been brought forward to August, the night fly ingredient will continue and include the fairground rides, stalls and other features which so many people enjoyed on the beach last year.
Mr May added: “The dates have changed due to the tides and September is out.
“The first available date that allows a night fly is the date we have chosen.”
The 2019 Fylde events calendar includes the Lytham Festival, featuring star performers such as Rod Stewart and Kylie Minogue, from July 10 to 14 and the Senior British Golf Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes from July 24 to 28, both also set to attract visitors galore.
“We are looking forward to a wonderful summer,” added Coun Little.