Purley Festival pulls the plug on 2016 music in Rotary Fields

There will be no Purley Festival staged on Rotary Fields this year.

The logo from the first Purley Festival. There may not be any 2016 version

The logo from the first Purley Festival. There may not be any 2016 version

An announcement on the organisers’ website was posted just before Christmas by the festival’s director, Fiona Lipscombe. The message attempted to compare the event to Glastonbury or Reading when it said, “Like all of the best festivals we are having a break this year from putting on the main weekend of the Festival. We have loads of work to do in the background that we need to do to blast into the next five years with all cylinders blazing.”

The 2015 Purley Festival was staged in late June and the first week of July, with the final weekend on the patch of parkland alongside the Brighton Road where the star turn was Shakatak (well, quite…). It was the first time since the Purley Festival was founded in 2011 that the organisers paid for its headline music acts.

“Festival goers were wowed,” the organisers said, “by the jazz-funk of 80s chart sensations Shakatak; and dazzled,” they claimed, “by a world-class performance from local soul superstar, Omar.”

In case you don’t know who Omar is, he can be found on Wikipedia here.

The organisers have also claimed, variously, that in 2015 the Purley Festival final weekend was attended by 8,000 and by 10,000 people.

In a press release issued last summer, the organisers stated, “Purley Festival 2015 has been hailed a great success by the festival organisers after a wonderful week.”

Lipscombe, who also runs the Dale Road music club, added that there will be smaller events staged during the course of 2016.

The Purley Festival: has anyone seen what happened to their banners?

The Purley Festival: Rotary Fields offers an amphitheatre for the main stage

The Purley event was first staged as a response to the end of the council-run Croydon Mela in Lloyd Park, and the demise of a small music festival staged by the local pub, the Jolly Farmers.

The venue chosen by the organisers, Rotary Field public park, with its steep slope up from the Brighton Road, offers an excellent amphitheatre- style setting for acts on the main stage, but for the rag-bag of village fete stalls arrayed around the park, it has tended to present other challenges.

Organised by volunteers, it was not long ago that Lipscombe was speaking publicly about extending the overall Purley Festival to three weeks.

Immediately after the 2015 Festival last July, Lipscombe stated: “We had lots of new people on our team this year with amazing ideas and incredible energy, which made the Festival even more special and exciting. Five years ago I could never have imagined that Purley Festival would become such a big and great event and it really is getting better every year.”

But there won’t be any locals being “wowed” or “dazzled” in 2016.

Purley Festival organisers may be coming to terms with the recent move to the west country of its musical director and organiser of the weekend events, Stephanie Darkes.

Darkes, who describes herself as a “freelance social media superstar and content creator”, had previously done PR for the Black Sheep bar (now closed), and had columns published in the Croydon Sadvertiser. She says she is now “seeking work in Exeter”.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to Purley Festival pulls the plug on 2016 music in Rotary Fields

  1. Sad that you are so negative when myself, Fiona and the rest of the team have worked so hard over the years for free to make it happen.

    Shame on you, I’m disappointed, I thought you were all looking out for the little man.

    • Hi Stephanie. Delighted you are still a rapt reader of Inside Croydon all the way from Exeter. How’s the job hunt going?

      What I don’t understand in your comment is the suggestion that our report is in any way “negative”. After all, we have simply reported what has been placed in the public domain, presumably by you, as “head of PR” and other members of the Festival “team”. Though we never did get a press release about the cancellation of this year’s finale weekend. It is almost as if the Festival organisation didn’t want anyone to notice.

      But then, I don’t think we’ve been sent any information about the Purley Festival in the five years that you have been doing its PR, so maybe that is not so unusual after all. Presumably, you preferred to deal with more gullible publications.

      On this story, we did go to Fiona Lipscombe for a comment, too, but she did not get back to us.

      Perhaps between the two of you, you could let us know how or when the Purley Festival accounts for the past three or four years might be made available?

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