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The Spectacular

Influencing Change

When I started in Chelmsford, I inherited what I felt was a tired and unchallenging programme of events – and thankfully many people agreed.

There was a recognition this particular open-air concert format introduced in the late eighties, had had their day and that it had become a huge financial liability – but there was also a sizeable resistance to change.

When it became clear that the Spectacular would continue to lose money and the V Festival could raise hundreds of thousands of pounds, the then Conservative-controlled council’s cabinet was recommended to approve a borough entertainments programme without the Spectacular, but including the annual V Festival and, importantly, the European Scout Jamboree the following year and the World Scout Jamboree after that.

There had been a very successful partnership formed to share the Chelmsford Spectacular event infrastructure with the private sector music promoter (then Metropolis Music) over successive weekends in late August – the event known as the V Festival.

But anyway, I wanted to capitilize on the desire to have new events and ‘spectacles’ replace the old Chelmsford Spectacular. Under my influence, I was able to devise and implement an evolving and successful portfolio of cultural events.

First there was Streetdiversions Festival, then The 3foot People Festival and then The Fling Festival – with many other events and festivals added each year too. See elsewhere on this website for more details of these popular events.

During this time, I learnt the invaluable role that the local community and artists have to play. I invested time seeking out those local community groups, professionals and artists to establish a festival network to support the new cultural programme.

Top Names

The Chelmsford Spectacular saw a number of top names and groups was well-loved by thousands of local people over it’s 15 year history.

The pop worlds of yesterday and yesterdecade with acts such as Eternal, Lesley Garrett, Take That, Chris de Burgh, Michael Ball, Bad Boys Inc, The Beautiful South, Squeeze, Status Quo, The Royal Philharmonic, The Searchers, Marmalade and The Bootleg Beatles.

In the final year of the special event, we had the Sugababes, Lemar, Russell Watson and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

When I started here, I was on the event management team delivering the Spectacular under the watchful eye of Jon Gower and a large and dedicated team of others, too many to mention. Except I will mention Claire Shuter and Anna Yates as they were both critical to the safe and successful delivery of this event and many of those that replaced it for many years to come.

The huge Colourscape walk-through installation appeared at the festival
Inside the Colourscape
Military Re-enactments and also car rallies (but not at the same time!) were a common feature of the annual Chelmsford Spectacular
The Chelmsford Spectacular shared infrastructure with the early iterations of the V Festival
The crowds enjoying the daytime entertainment

Dodo Island, an ecological thriller, by NoFitState was performed at The Spectacular

The highly acclaimed Les Misérables concert formed part of the Chelmsford Spectacular one year. It required co-ordinating 200 artistes, a creative team in excess of 40 together with more than 30 technical and support staff, producing a concert that delighted an audience of 18,000.

One of the few video clips from a Chelmsford Spectacular. This is from 1997 with Jeff Leyton, in the role of Jean Valjean in a concert version of Les Misérables.