Hampton Court Palace Festival's Liz Young on the stately home concerts boom

Hampton Court Palace Festival's Liz Young on the stately home concerts boom

As Hampton Court Palace Festival prepares to kick off its 2019 programme, head of events Liz Young has tipped the number of events at historical venues to continue to rise. 

The festival returns for its 27th annual edition tonight (June 6) with Jools Holland. Running until June 22, it will go on to feature The Jacksons, Busted, Caro Emerald, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Tears For Fears, Kylie Minogue and Michael Ball & Alfie Boe.

"There are great examples of unique and historic venues that have been hosting music events for years, with no damage to the historic fabric of the building or negative impact to the day visitor, so that may help persuade the more risk averse to try something like this,” said Young.

“Of course, we’ve also got these Instagrammable moments here: beautiful backdrops, stunning gardens and a much more up close experience with artists. I think that’s what people want – something a little bit more than just a concert. We have the formal gardens at the back of the palace itself where people can have a picnic and champagne and enjoy the outside space before coming in to the Tudor courtyard for the show." 

The 3,000-capacity event, which has previously been headlined by stars including Elton John, Eric Clapton, Lionel Richie and Van Morrison, is organised by event producer IMG.

“When I joined 10 years ago there were an awful lot of concerts in parks and stately homes,” said VP of arts and entertainment Joel Smith. “Some of those drifted away and some of them have come back, but Hampton Court has always remained. It has a very loyal audience, along with the spectacular setting of the palace. What is unique is the fact that the concerts take place in one of the courtyards, rather than being bolted on in the gardens.”

Tickets range from £49 to £99, alongside more expensive VIP options.

Venues like ours are becoming much more commercially-savvy

Liz Young


"We purposefully challenge IMG to get different styles of artists, specifically because we want to have different audiences coming in," said Young. "It’s an alternative way for people to engage and interact with their favourite artists because the capacity is much smaller than you would expect to see these big names."

In the coming weeks, Kenwood House will host the Heritage Live Concert Series with Madness, Jose Carreras and The Piano Guy; Nocturne Live will bring Gladys Knight, Ms Lauryn Hill, Tears For Fears and Kylie Minogue to Blenheim Palace; and the Somerset House Summer Series will welcome acts including Doves, The Good, The Bad & The Queen and Gossip.

“Venues like ours are becoming much more commercially-savvy," added Young. "The festival is a fantastic way for us to get completely different audiences into the palace and also, of course, it’s of great financial benefit to us. We’re an independent charity, so we use the venue in different ways to get money into the coffers to enable us to maintain the buildings."

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