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A Hacienda Classical event held in Williamson Park was attended by nearly 3,000 guests.
The event, which was held on Sunday Week 3, saw a collaboration of DJs Mike Pickering and Graeme Park with experimental orchestra FAC 51 The Hacienda and Manchester Camerata.
2,900 attendees heard classic Hacienda songs performed by a 50-strong orchestra, as well as guest performances from Peter Hook, from New Order, and Rowetta, from The Happy Mondays.
Alongside the music there was also a light and laser show – which shone onto the Ashton Memorial and surrounding trees.
Attendees came from across the North West – including Manchester, Liverpool, Burnley and Carlisle – on the hottest day of the year so far: with temperatures reaching up to 23 degrees.
Richard Dyer, one of the events organisers, told The Visitor that “The event was brilliant, and a great thing for Lancaster. It was a great show from Manchester Camerata, and we were completely blessed with the weather.”
Indeed, the event was the largest of its kind to take place in Williamson Park and was the first time Hacienda DJs had performed with a live orchestra.
Tickets were available at £35 but a VIP option – which included food, a drink and access to the Ashton Memorial – cost £75.
Despite this however, the event was not without its problems: many on social media were critical of lengthy queues for drinks (some saying queues reached 90 minutes) and difficulties getting into the venue.
Grant Williams, an attendee at the event, said: “We queued for 90 minutes for some beers. I can see what was intended with the queue ‘system’ it just wasn’t thought through enough or prepared for 3000 former ravers. We regretted not getting the VIP tickets but you shouldn’t have to pay £75 just to get some decent service and a drink.”
Richard Dyer was aware of the problems, saying: “We know the bar was busy because we ran out of beer! We put in a queuing system which most bars don’t, but we made it as fair as possible. We’re going to take on board everybody’s feedback, but it’s a very challenging site, and there are a lot of people to please before it’s presented to the customers.”
He added, “The police were happy, the fire service were happy, and the council’s licensing department were happy with the way the event was run.”
Calling the main event ‘spectacular’, attendee Grant Williams went on to praise the show: “The carefully selected club classics were delivered fantastically. There were lots of happy, smiley people with lots of arm waving. I myself felt emotional as all the memories came flooding back.”
Local newspaper, The Visitor, gave an equally positive review – calling the event “the best thing to happen to Lancaster since The Stone Roses played The Sugarhouse 27 years ago.”