"We're looking for more of these opportunities": Inside the O2 Arena's hopes for more complex-wide events


In the latest issue of Music Week, we speak to the O2’s director of festivals and events Milly Olykan about the venue’s on-going success in bringing site-wide, genre-specific experiences to the masses.

In large, this development can be traced back to the huge success of the Country To Country Festival, which unlocked the door for a different kind of music event, capable of utilising the whole of the North Greenwich complex. This year’s C2C boasted a line-up including Music Week’s recent cover star Kacey Musgraves alongside Little Big Town, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Kelsea Ballerini  and Emmylou Harris in the main arena as well as a host of pop-up stages, and sets occurring at venues within the O2 site. You can read our extensive review here.

Speaking to Music Week, Olykan praised the potential of the O2 as an ideal hub for expansive and adventurous live experiences.

“We have multiple venues of different sizes - all under one roof and in close proximity - and great transport links,” said Olykan. “We also have a cinema and can put some of the programming - like food fairs and live music - outside if it’s in the summer, so it’s just a great location to do lots of different things.”

Since the inaugural C2C five years ago, the O2 has welcomed BluesFest, which launched across a range of small London venues in 2011, switched to The O2 in 2016 and is expanding to four nights in 2018. Other tenants include the Stone Free Festival, Hola! London and Boy Better Know Takeover, which debuted last August.

Olykan said there is plenty of scope for even more events to be added to the O2’s calendar.

“We’re looking for more of these opportunities - and we’re up for ideas,” said Olykan. “[AEG owner] Philip Anschutz - the A in AEG - is an entrepreneur. He likes that we’re doing this, and he’s interested in us doing more of it.”

You can read Music Week’s interview with Olykan and her C2C co-promoter Chris York here.


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