Festival to champion Preston's night-time economy

A festival to celebrate the champions of Preston’s night-time economy is returning at the end of January.

PrestfestPrestfest, which is organised by BID in partnership with city centre businesses, aims to profile the city centre in the evenings with organisers promising a quality programme of events.

It will take place at more than 50 venues throughout the city centre for three nights starting on Thursday, January 30.

Jessica Toomey, general manager at the Frog and Bucket comedy club and chairman of the Preston By Night group, said the event would promote the city’s Purple Flag status, an accreditation by the Association of Town Centre Management of a vibrant and safe late night offer.

She said: “Being the only destination in Lancashire to fly the Purple Flag, we are on a mission to shout about why our city centre is a great place to visit at night.

“We believe Preston offers a unique night-out to people in Lancashire but we recognised the need to evolve and improve our offer to encourage people to come here and keep coming back.

“We held a Prestfest weekend in May 2013, to great acclaim, boosting footfall and trade in many quarters; this time, it will be even better and as an economy, we are really excited.”

The celebration is organised by a funded by the Preston Business Improvement District (BID), a body run by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and paid for by a 1% levy placed on business rates bills of city centre businesses.

It is expected to spend £20,000 on the event including paying for activities, including advertising and entertainment.

BID events manager Mark Whittle said guides to the event would be delivered to thousands of homes across the city ahead of the event and a significant promotional campaign within the local media.

He added: “Prestfest is unique and we make the most of that fact, we saw visitors from as far away as Hull, Leeds, Liverpool and even Scotland last time.

“We will capitalise on this once again to promote Preston city centre as the destination for a vibrant and safe night out.”

The Prestfest event began in October 2011 to coincide with the city’s success in achieving Purple Flag accreditation, which operates in a similar way to blue flags for beaches and green flags for parks. In May, more than 250 people took part on free guided tours looking at the city centre’s ‘dark’ history along with a programme of events including live music, street entertainment and specialty acts.