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The history of Highest Point Festival

From confined prison raves to unbounded parties on the Highest Point: How Lancaster’s best loved music festival came to be

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 7th Dec 2020

The story begins back in 2014, when plans to throw a series of raves within a disused prison, inside a medieval castle belonging to Her Majesty the Queen, came to fruition for the founding members of fabled Lancaster club night, ‘A Wing’ - Richard Dyer, Jamie Scahill and the late, great Chris Glaba. You couldn’t write this stuff.

A three year stint of hugely successful, unique and unrestrained parties followed. Numerous high profile DJ names and personalities made appearances on the wing, including the likes of Ibiza legend Pete Tong, Fac51 icons Graeme Park, Mike Pickering and Tom Wainwright, and a certain Happy Monday’s member who from witness accounts apparently arrived on the dance floor in a coffin.

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Up to five hundred revellers consistently filled the expansive two floor venue, witnessing world-class sets played out through the hefty Funktion One sound system that regularly rattled the foundations of the historic building. The ruling authorities were content, as were the local university students and surrounding music fan population, but as the saying goes ‘you can’t please everyone all of the time’. Step up the Daily Mail.

An article which damned the use of the royal estate owned prison as a nightclub was published in August 2015, subsequently ending the run of A Wing events whilst delivering a monumental blow to Lancaster's already diminished nightlife scene at the time. 

Conversations with the Hacienda team had already begun before the final goodbye A Wing celebration had taken place, and plans to bring what was then the forthcoming and now highly acclaimed Hacienda Classical show to Lancaster, for its first outdoor performance, were in the advanced stages. 

Initial applications to run the show in the courtyard of Lancaster Castle fortuitously fell through, as a more than suitable, frankly ideal location was found and secured - Williamson Park. A fifty four acre country park situated on the highest hilltop in the city, with stunning panoramic views from Morecambe Bay over to the Lake District and a natural amphitheatre, positioned just beneath an impressively ornate, dome topped memorial. An extraordinary setting.

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On Sunday 8th May 2016, all the hard work paid off as tickets sold out and the event came together for what would turn out to be an unforgettable experience for all that were present. The weather, the venue, the three thousand ravers, the forty piece Manchester Camerata Orchestra and the bill of renowned names including New Order’s Peter Hook, DJ and host Graeme Park and vocalist Rowetta of the Happy Mondays that entertained throughout the evening. It was the resounding success of this event that led founders Jamie Scahill and Richard Dyer to work alongside Studio DBD to create what is now Lancaster's primary annual outdoor festival - Highest Point festival

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Occurring over three days, the inaugural festival in 2018 provided attendees with an eclectic lineup brimming with established and upcoming talents, across three stages - The Dell, The Main Stage and The Chris Glaba Memorial Stage, dedicated to one of the three founding members of the A Wing club night, who sadly passed after a short battle with cancer in 2016. Performances from the likes of superstar DJ Sasha, Jackmaster, 90’s favourites Ocean Colour Scene and The Rebel Dread, Don Letts were amongst the many who took to the stage. The team grew stronger as Holly Wignall came on board to launch The Big Family Day Out, a kind of family festival within a festival. 

The event progressed further in 2019 with even bigger names, the likes of which Lancaster had never seen, landing on the bill. Grammy nominated disco queens Sister Sledge flew over from the states to amaze audiences with their extensive back catalogue of chart topping tracks, including a ten minute rendition of Lost In Music, whilst fellow American Grandmaster Flash defined turntablism to a packed out main stage. 

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Image credit: Richard Hyslop

Other stand out performances came from Lucy Spraggan of X factor fame, The Zutons, Feeder, Anna Calvi, General Levy and DJ Judge Jules

This year would have marked the festival’s third anniversary, however, like many other events worldwide, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately prevented the festival from going ahead. Building upon the success of previous years, 2020’s line up was set to be its biggest to date, celebrating some of the UK’s best known and most celebrated artists, from singer songwriter Rag N Bone Man, to Brit Award winners Rudimental, Becky Hill, Wilkinson, Ms Banks and many more.

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The focus now switches to 2021. From 14th to 16th May, Highest Point will return to Williamson Park along with the same artists scheduled to perform at this year’s sadly rescheduled event, for its biggest year to date. There are still plenty of artist announcements to come, with Ella Eyre and Sub Focus recently joining the lineup, as well as plans for a brand new stage.

 

Read: 2021 Festivals You Can Already Buy Tickets For 

 

Purchase tickets for Highest Point 2021 below...

Type of Ticket Price QuantityQty
Monthly Payment Plan
Friday Adult Ticket 4 Month Payment Plan Deposit
18+ / Rudimental Total: 40. Remaining 2 x 15 & 5 instalment due
This ticket is part of a payment plan - view terms and conditions
£9.25
(£5.00 + bf)
NOT ON SALE
Saturday Adult Ticket 4 Month Payment Plan Deposit
18+ w/ Rag N Bone Man & many more. Total: £49. Remaining 3 instalments: 2 x £19.50 & £5 balance due.
This ticket is part of a payment plan - view terms and conditions
£10.15
(£5.00 + bf)
NOT ON SALE
2 Day Adult Ticket 4 Month Payment Plan Deposit
18+ Fri & Sat Access. Total: £85. Remaining 3 instalments: 2 x £37.50 + 1 x balance of £5 due.
This ticket is part of a payment plan - view terms and conditions
£13.75
(£5.00 + bf)
NOT ON SALE
Friday 14th May - 2021
Friday Night Adult Ticket
18+ / Rudimental, Wilkinson, Becky Hill & many more
£44.25
(£40.00 + bf)
Friday 11-17 Ticket
Must be accompanied by an adult 21+ at all times
£1.75
(£0.00 + bf)
Friday 10 & Under Ticket
Must be accompanied by an adult 21+ at all times
£0.00
Two Day Ticket - Friday 14th & Saturday 15th May
2 Day Adult Ticket
18+ Friday & Saturday Access
£93.75
(£85.00 + bf)
2 Day 11-17 Child Ticket
Friday & Saturday - Must be accompanied by an adult 21+ at all times
£27.75
(£25.00 + bf)
2 Day 10 & Under Ticket
Friday & Saturday - Must be accompanied by an adult 21+ at all times
£0.00
Saturday 15th May - 2021
Saturday Adult Ticket
18+ w/ Rag N Bone Man, Ella Eyre, Sub Focus & many more
£54.15
(£49.00 + bf)
Saturday 10 and Under Ticket
Must be accompanied by an adult 21+ at all times
£0.00
Saturday 11-17 Child Ticket
Must be accompanied by an adult 21+ at all times
£16.75
(£15.00 + bf)
Highest Point Pounds
£20 Highest Point Pounds
£20 Highest Point Pounds on RFID Wristband (Use for bars/food)
£20.50
(£20.00 + bf)
£50 Highest Point Pounds with Bonus £5
Pay £50 in advance get £55 in Highest Point Pounds on RFID Wristband (Use for bars/food)
£50.50
(£50.00 + bf)
£100 Highest Point Pounds with Bonus £10
Pay £100 in advance get £110 in Highest Point Pounds on RFID Wristband (Use for bars/food)
£100.50
(£100.00 + bf)
Friday Big Green Coach Return Travel
Blackpool Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
2:30pm from Coach Bays, North Corner, within Central Car Park FY1 5QA / Pick Up 11:45pm
£26.10
(£24.00 + bf)
Preston Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
3:15pm Bays A to E, Central Bus Station, Tithebarn Street, PR1 1YT / Pick Up 11.45pm
£23.92
(£22.00 + bf)
Carlisle Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
2pm from Coach Bays, Deavonshire Walk Car Park (off A595 next to Castle) CA3 8UR / Pick Up 11:45pm
£30.45
(£28.00 + bf)
Kendal Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
3:15pm from Coach Stop, Outside The Shakesphere, Highgate, Kendal, LA9 4HE / Pick up 11:45pm
£23.92
(£22.00 + bf)
Manchester Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
1:45pm Coach Bays, Store Street (Outside NCP Store St Car Park), Manchester M1 2WD / Pick up 11:45pm
£29.36
(£27.00 + bf)
Bolton Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
2:15pm The Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft Street, BL1 1SB / Pick up 11:45pm
£27.19
(£25.00 + bf)
Blackburn Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
3pm Bus Stop Layby, Ainsworth Street (Opposite Police Station) BB1 6AR / Pick up 11:45pm
£25.01
(£23.00 + bf)
Liverpool Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
1:45pm Coach Bay, William Brown Street, outside Central Library, L3 8EW / Pick up 11:45pm
£29.36
(£27.00 + bf)
Wigan Friday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
2:45pm Bus Stand, Mesnes Park Terrace (outside Drumcroon Gallery), WN1 1SU / Pick up 11:45pm
£26.10
(£24.00 + bf)
Saturday Big Green Coach Return Travel
Blackpool Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
10:30am from Coach Bays, North Corner, within Central Car Park FY1 5QA / Pick Up 11:45pm
£26.10
(£24.00 + bf)
Preston Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
11:15am Bays A to E, Central Bus Station, Tithebarn Street, PR1 1YT / Pick Up 11.45pm
£23.92
(£22.00 + bf)
Carlisle Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
10am from Coach Bays, Deavonshire Walk Car Park (off A595 next to Castle) CA3 8UR / Pick Up 11:45pm
£30.45
(£28.00 + bf)
Kendal Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
11:15am from Coach Stop, Outside The Shakesphere, Highgate, Kendal, LA9 4HE / Pick up 11:45pm
£23.92
(£22.00 + bf)
Manchester Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
9:45am Coach Bays, Store Street (Outside NCP Store St Car Park), Manchester M1 2WD / Pick up 11:45pm
£29.36
(£27.00 + bf)
Bolton Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
10:15am The Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft Street, BL1 1SB / Pick up 11:45pm
£27.19
(£25.00 + bf)
Blackburn Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
11am Bus Stop Layby, Ainsworth Street (Opposite Police Station) BB1 6AR / Pick up 11:45pm
£25.01
(£23.00 + bf)
Liverpool Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
9:45am Coach Bay, William Brown Street, outside Central Library, L3 8EW / Pick up 11:45pm
£29.36
(£27.00 + bf)
Wigan Saturday RTN Coach Operated by Big Green Coach
10:45am Bus Stand, Mesnes Park Terrace (outside Drumcroon Gallery), WN1 1SU / Pick up 11:45pm
£26.10
(£24.00 + bf)

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Header image credit: Richard Hyslop

 

 

Festivals 2021