2009 Spring Festival - Introduction & Preview


Blackpool can be a place of joyous celebration or one of mephitis and micturition. All the bands want though is to get a step closer to the British Open...

The dust has barely settled on the Europeans, and Cory are still sipping the last dregs of celebratory champagne, but for the banding fraternity in the UK the focus has already turned to the Spring Festival in Blackpool this weekend.


There is however a connection of sorts between what happened in Ostend last weekend and what will happen at the Winter Gardens this coming Saturday – and its not that both towns are usually packed to the rafters with fun seeking stag goers either.  It’s the fact that when it comes to brass bands, everyone wants to get away from the places.  

Blackpool may well be trying to reinvent itself into some sort of Las Vegas of the North, but it has a long way to go yet, before it gets there. Hope springs eternal for the competing bands, that even as they take to the stage for the Senior Trophy, they are at most, a mere three years away from an appearance at the British Open. 

Wake up call

The local council, hoteliers and businesses are determined to make Blackpool an appealing place to visit though for more than 24 hours, but there will be 60 bands in three sections here this weekend who won’t want to spend anymore time here than they have to.

The Winter Gardens, isn’t Symphony Hall, or the Kursaal in Ostend for that matter, but it does offer a multi-purpose building that still does the job for a brass band contest. And in a rather strange way it does make for a wonderful atmosphere – a heady mix of determination, dedication and desperation.

The real plus is that the whole contest day is run with clockwork efficiency by Karyn and Martin Mortimer with Frank Hodges and a team of volunteers from the North West Counties Brass Band Association and Lancashire Contests providing the bands with a level of service and friendly direction not usually seen in Blackpool landladies.

Additional invaluable support also comes from Leisure Parcs Ltd, and this commitment has ensured that the contest has a bright future at the Winter Gardens, despite the effects of the credit crunch. .

Great Bands

This year there is the potential for a real old battle in each of the sections and three expertly chosen test pieces to put the bands through their paces. The adjudicators are all experienced and forthright too – so no band will leave Blackpool not knowing why they came where they did without good reason. 

Live coverage

4BR’s team will be on hand to try and bring you all the thrills and spills in each of the three sections as soon as we possibly can on the day. 60 bands will all be wishing to for one thing though – the chance to take a step closer to the British Open. 

For two, those dreams will come true, for others they will get just a little closer to reality. For the rest, it’s another trip to Blackpool in 2010 - the Mecca of mephitis, micturition and unmensefulness. (bad smells, awash in urine and full of unpleasent visitors)

Iwan Fox & Malcolm Wood


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