The Willow Festival
The Willow Festival is a live music performance arts event which takes place on the Peterborough Embankment.
The Willow Festival is funded by S&J Bars Ltd and relies on ticket sales sponsorship, concession sales, fundraising activities and donations to cover it’scosts.
About the Festival
TWF is open to all age groups and is promoted as a family event. The Willow Festival showcases a minimum of 176 live music acts over three days. It does not showcase performances that are non-live, such as artists
miming to backing tracks or DJ’d music. TWF caters specifically for artists who create their own music via playing musical instruments and this is its identity and remit.
The Willow Festival is produced to a very high standard with impressive infrastructure and is a genuine international draw, even though it is very much a local event.
The Willow Festival remains the largest and most successful live music performance event in Peterborough City’s history and is reservedly expecting to attract in excess of 30,000 visitors over three days in 2023. The 2023 event will be the eleventh in its history.
The Willow Festival introduces new audiences to live performance and demonstrates the value of creating music and developing life skills, such as playing a musical instrument, writing songs and performing live.
The Willow Festival appeals to this virgin audience by offering an early bird priced ticket for only £10.00 to enjoy all three days, attracting those who would not normally attend an arts based activity. TWF widens the public’s life experiences and by doing so improves quality of living via exposure to performance art and life skills, especially for the local community.
The Willow Festival also entertains initiated live performance supporters and further encourages their involvement by demonstration, advice, encouragement and promotion .
Many professionals from the industry are invited to the event and are encouraged to use it as a market place in respect of offering these new artists employment via development deals, publishing contracts, recording contracts, musical instrument industry demonstrator positions or any other of the multitude of positions within the live performance arts industry.
The Willow Festival encourages the live performance and recording industry to set up offices in Peterborough. TWF attempts to achieve this by demonstrating the city’s depth of talent, it’s accessible location and transport links, it’s commercial infrastructure, it’s projected population growth and available workforce and it’s council’s desire to see local business succeed. All factors that among other positives would (DO?) make Peterborough a good city to do business from.
The Willow Festival’s professional and volunteer staff offer advice on performance art careers and encourage local educational groups, such as colleges and schools, to become involved with the festival and it’s organisers. Various music industry based seminars and other events have been successfully undertaken over the years, which have helped live performance artists find professional work etc.
The Willow Festival helps to train and give experience to volunteers in stage management, crewing, sound engineer work, lighting engineer work, stewarding, event organisation, promotion and many other areas of delivering a
large scale live performance arts event. These skills can be used for future employment opportunities and are valuable for personal development and a CV.
Value in Art
The Willow Festival stands for quality in all areas of its production. TWF is respected by its peers and is a credit to its home town of Peterborough. The Willow Festival improves the quality of life for the people of Peterborough and by association enhances Peterborough’s national and international profile, boosting business and tourism.
Approximately 600 individual live performance artists will appear at The Willow Festival. The vast majority of these artists will be amateurs who wish to move into the profession or promote themselves to obtain further engagements.
They will have a skill level that has been determined by The Willow Festival organisers to be of value both artistically and commercially.
A small number of the live performance artists in attendance will be celebrities well known to the wider public. These will be professionally engaged and mainly serve the purpose of attracting big crowds to the event, which in turn benefits the amateurs, increases public awareness of live performance art and helps to inspire further public involvement.
It is an essential part of a performing artist’s development that they experience having to deal with large crowds, large infrastructure, professional stage crew and professional performance environments. The Willow Festival provides this
environment and is a showcase in this respect for many artists who learn and develop via this process.
It has substantial value for a performing artist and is something that is not easy to come by unless the artist is supported with some type of development funding from a record company or similar.
TWF gives developing artists the very best in infrastructure to demonstrate their ability in a professional environment. It’s an advanced opportunity for learning and self- promotion that is highly valued by the artists themselves.
TWF also provides the all- important exposure for artists seeking to further their art or artistic career. It is common for artists who appear at The Willow Festival to become engaged in further events and promotions on the strength of their TWF involvement and performance. It has a positive effect on their ability to perform their art for financial gain or artistic fulfilment.
Other booking agents see or hear of these artists via TWF’s own promotions, the artist’s actual performance or the viral and press exposure these artists enjoy by being part of TWF.
The public also offer bookings as do venues. Managers, agents and record companies can show interest, or indeed use the event to further interest in artists they have already begun to support.
The artists who will be booked are musicians and vocalists who play, create and sing all types of music from classical to punk. TWF receives well over 3500 applications from bands and artists annually. We list those we book here on our website at about three months prior to the event itself.
The Willow Festival exists to promote live music performance as a life skill that all age groups can take part in. We also aim to help those who are already taking part to either further themselves into a music industry career or to develop personally as an artist.
Firstly TWF look to engage local artists and we vet those we feel we can offer the most help to. When we feel we have looked after those and offered them a platform, we look at regional applications, then national and finally international.
The process of application is in itself an educational one and the artists need to fulfil all the criteria they would need for applying to appear at any other major arts event or indeed the acquisition of a professional contract. TWF helps with the process and demonstrates how the artist should respond and
what is a good application and what is a poor one. Successful applicants will learn the importance of presentation and promotion in respect of gaining notoriety for their art and entering the profession, if indeed that’s their aim.
Successful applicants can also use the fact that they have been chosen to play at The Willow Festival as a tool for gaining other work. It is an immensely powerful endorsement that looks very healthy on their CV and helps enormously with obtaining further engagements.
The Willow Festival is a vehicle for inspiring others to get involved in playing live music, creating compositions and performing their art live.
TWF attracts many visitors who would not normally attend a live music event and this is the main reason it remains a low cost entry festival. We are introducing an uninitiated audience to live performance and by doing so we increase the chances of them wishing to take part or wishing their children to take part. We have heard it said on numerous occasions by visitors that they would not normally attend such a live arts event and we have received testimony from current artists who we have inspired to become musicians and creative performers.
The Willow Festival creates excitement in the area and is a major focus for local and regional live music artists. It has a fantastic reputation and has an unsurpassed level of support in respect of other local arts events.
It is Peterborough’s flagship live music extravaganza and has showcased in excess of 4500 artists and attracted approximately 300.000 visitors in it’s history.
The Willow Festival will build on its existing success during 2023 and develop its remit further.
Historically support for the event has been overwhelming and we have little trouble in promoting it. Indeed there may well come a time when we have to restrict the attendance or develop a second event. In the future The Willow Festival will continue to further its astonishing legacy and facilitate hundreds of artists with their profile, self-worth and artistic careers, as well continuing to inspire as many people as we can to become involved in the arts.
TWF has proved its worth to the community time and time again and is the only local event that we are aware of that has had several campaigns driven by many thousands of local people pushing for it to remain on the calendar. Indeed, TWF
has unprecedented local support from the public.
The Willow Festival organisers attend many networking events and continually make the case for support from business and the value they can realise in doing
so. We produce a sponsor’s package and meet with potential sponsors on a regular basis.
The Willow Festival is financially independent from local city council’s funding, indeed, it pays for the lease of the land it uses from Peterborough City Council.
TWF will continue to provide a huge boost for the local economy both in terms of increased footfall for city business and in terms of tourism. We lift the city’s profile making it a more attractive place to settle and work.
The Willow Festival comes together over a number of months with both local and national companies being awarded contracts to supply infrastructure for the event.
There have historically been no objections from the Police, emergency services or our local authority regarding our plans. The event has enjoyed strong support from our police force and has been commended by senior officers regarding
management of the event in previous years.