T in the Park boss: Camping event will be ‘very different’

Pic Lisa Ferguson 12/07/2015
T in the Park 2015 - Strathallan Castle
arena, main stage, fans, crowds,
Pic Lisa Ferguson 12/07/2015 T in the Park 2015 - Strathallan Castle arena, main stage, fans, crowds,
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T in the Park boss Geoff Ellis has revealed his company will only put on a new camping festival if it is “very different” to the long-running event.

The chief executive of DF Concerts said a future festival would “refresh everything,” but hinted that the company would take at least two years out from the market.

He said any new event allowing audiences to camp would be aimed at an “older market” than T in the Park, which was dogged by anti-social behaviour problems and planning wrangles before it was shelved for this year.

A new non-camping festival, TRNSMT, was launched by DF Concerts in Glasgow Green on T in the Park’s traditional dates in July and a return was recently confirmed for 2018.

Interviewed for an events industry magazine, Ellis said the disputes and controversies over T in the Park’s relocation from Balado to Strathallan had been “the most trying time of my professional life”.

Speaking to Events Base magazine, Ellis said: “I think what we come back with will be something very different.

“If you take two years out of the market and you go back in you probably want to refresh everything.

“That’s not to say we won’t be back with a camping festival, at some point we will be back with a camping festival, but we’re not jumping up and down to do it in 2018.

“Whatever we do in the future, I think we will probably aim it at an older market as well. With the last three or four years of T in the Park, we were seeing people not coming back year-on-year, whereas people did the surveys and said, ‘Yeah I had a great time, I can’t wait to be back next year.’

“It’s not because they didn’t have a good time, but because they’ve done it, they’ve ticked the box and they want to go somewhere else.

“As a festival organiser, that’s something you’ve got to learn quickly, because it used to be about making sure people had a good time and wanted to come back next year. Now it’s about getting a whole new audience [each time].”

First staged in 1994, T in the Park was forced to relocate from long-time home Balado, in Kinross-shire, in 2015 due to long-standing concerns from the Health and Safety Executive over an oil pipeline running underneath the site.

However, the event was dogged by problems at its new home in the grounds of Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, including traffic chaos, crowd congestion, anti-­social behaviour and the cost of protecting local wildlife, including nesting ospreys.

Mr Ellis said: “It’s been the most trying time of my professional life. I think that’s true of everybody in the company as well. The people who I would blame – and who I do blame – is the HSE. I’ve not met one person outside the HSE who thought they were reasonable.

“The risk is infinitesimal that the pipeline could blow up. An independent report concluded that there was a likelihood of failure at one in 4.5 million years, so you are as likely to be eaten by a dinosaur. You’ve more chance of seeing Marc Bolan’s T-Rex.”

It was announced just over a year ago that the event would be taking a break in 2017 – weeks before DF Concerts unveiled plans for TRNSMT.

The promoters have insisted that the new event – which will be staged across five days over two weekends in 2018 – is not a replacement for T in the Park.

Mr Ellis said: “There were only two festivals [Glastonbury and Reading] when we started T in the Park and almost everybody said we would fail. We’re immensely proud of what we achieved and there’s a lot of love for the event.”