Radio 1's Big Weekend Carlisle 2011
Radio 1's big weekend claims to mark the start of a summer of festivals and music and I have to say tha tthey did it very successfully. The headliners the Foo Fighters rocked out the stage on the saturday with their never ending collection of hits and then the absolutely crazy Lady Gaga wowed the crowd with her set on the Sunday, mostly ... because she arrived in a coffin!!! Other big performances cam from the Black Yed Peas whose autotune and repetitive beats entertained the tens of thousands in the main tent. My personal highlight was seeing My Chemical Romance show the world their class; every sond seemed to be a hit with everyone. The soudclashed on the outdoor stage are held every year and this year, Chris Moyle's vs Westwood was the highlight. Let's not forget the smaller stages featuring bands such as Saturday Night Gym Club who in my opinion may be playing a bigger stage in years to come.
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Radio 1's Big Weekend Carlisle 2011
== About Big Weekend == This year, Radio One hosted their big weekend in Carlisle. If you know nothing or very little about this event then here is a little history. Radio One have been hosted free events/ concerts since 1973 which began with the Radio One Roadshow (which I used to go to as a teenager in the 90s). When this changed ... to One Big Weekend in 2003, two different events were held every year until 2005 when it changed to one, bigger event. Radio One's Big Weekend is also the largest free concert in the whole of Europe.
Tickets are extremely hard to get a hold of unless you live in the surrounding area of wherever the event is being held that year. 65% of tickets get distributed to this area with 30% going to the North East and Scotland and the remaining 5% to the rest of the UK. In order to get tickets, you have to register online and hope for the best. Tickets are given through a lottery and only so many are available. 20,000 pairs of tickets were available for this years event over the span of the two days. Over 750,000 people applied for tickets. I was lucky that my blogging partner, Vicki, lives in Carlisle and managed to get a pair of tickets for the Sunday and asked if I wanted to go with her. Of course I said yes, I would have been an idiot to pass up an opportunity like this.
== When and Where ==
This year, Big Weekend was hosted on Carlisle's airport grounds over two days, Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of May. Although car parking was available, it was advised to take the shuttle buses organised instead. The shuttle bus which took us to and from the event cost £5 for a return which was extremely good value as it picked us up in Carlisle and dropped us off right at the venue. The shuttle bus ran from 9am until 2pm on each day of the event and returns began from 8:30pm right up until 1am to make sure that everyone could get back safely. Apparently, this wasn't very well organised for the Saturday but on the Sunday, it was great and we had hardly any waiting at all.
== Food and Drink ==
As this is a free event, taking food into the grounds is prohibited. The only thing you are allowed to take in is a 500ml bottle of water that is sealed. Although many people moaned about this, I do think that it was fair. Due to being free, money has to be made somewhere. Vicki and I were very sensible though and took with us some sandwiches and crisps to eat before the event while we had to wait in line for a good couple of hours. Bags were checked before entering but to be honest, they didn't do a very good job with this and we could have easily smuggled food and drink in with us.
Prices for food and drink were as bad as I was expecting. The only things I bought while at this event was some chips and a bottle of coke and that set me back £5. Vicki bought 1 Bacardi Breezer which cost £3.80. There were two bars inside the grounds as well as plenty of staff members walking around selling alcoholic drinks. While there was no way I wanted to get drunk, many people did and I can imagine it cost them a fortune. All alcoholic drinks seemed to be the same price as the Bacardi Breezer. Even though prices were insane, I was surprised to see just how much choice there was when it came to the food such as burgers, chips, Chinese, pizza and even a vegetarian/ vegan food stand. I wasn't planning on eating but the weather was so cold and miserable that I wanted something to warm me up more than anything else.
== Facilities ==
The only real facilities that Big Weekend has was toilets which were situated near each of the biggest tents. There were probably around 30 toilets in each area which, for 20,000 people a day isn't nearly enough. We had been warned beforehand that toilets had an hour wait but it wasn't nearly as bad as that. I think the longest we had to wait was around 20 minutes which I didn't think was too bad at all. The toilets, as expected, were pretty disgusting though. If anyone gets tickets to a future Big Weekend, be advised to take your own toilet roll as well as wipes etc as we did. They came in very handy and I'm really glad we decided to do this.
== What Big Weekend is all about! ==
== In New Music We Trust and BBC Introducing Stage ==
These two tents were the smaller of the three due to the bands that would be playing there. As Vicki and I had decided to spend most of our day in the Main Stage, we only managed to see one singer in the New Music We Trust tent and while she (Yasmin) was really good, the tent was quite empty. Obviously, there was a lot more exciting things going on and I was glad to have not spent much time here. We didn't even go into the BBC Introducing Stage.
Here are the line ups for these tents for the day we attended (Sunday):
In New Music We Trust Stage
Noah & The Whale
Two Door Cinema Club
Pulled Apart By Horses
BBC Introducing Stage
Masters in France
DJ Vimto & Jah Digga
Let's buy Happiness
== Outdoor Stage ==
Even though it was wet and miserable, along with the grounds covered in sloppy mud, there was always a lot of people at the Outdoor Stage which wasn't surprising considering the great Djs that were doing sets. One of the main attractions of this stage was the sound clashes between Fearne Cotton/ Zane Lowe and Tim Westwood/ Chris Moyles. These sound clashes have become quite famous and I desperately wanted to catch at least one of them after watching them online for the previous day. Although the Chris Moyles set is the most famous, Fearne/ Zane was the most entertaining. The song choices were genius, especially from Fearne who decided to play some real old school songs like MMM Bop and Never Forget but these really got the crowd going and in a fantastic mood, all singing along!
Skream and Benga
Fabio and Grooverider
Kissy Sell Out
Westwood vs Moyles
Zane vs Fearne
Westwood plus Wiz Khalifa PA
== The Main Stage ==
The Main Stage is where all of the best bands were, with Lady Gaga headlining. As I said earlier, this is where we decided to spend most of our day and there were some great bands who I was really looking forward to seeing.
Lady Gaga - This was easily the best set of the day. Being the diva that she is, Gaga kept the audience waiting for nearly half an hour but DJ Scott Mills did a fantastic job of keeping everyone in good spirits and having a great time.
When she did finally come on stage, I was quite speechless. Going to see Lady Gaga, I didn't really know what to expect but then, can you ever with her. The beginning half of her set was dramatic, with her arriving in a coffin and coming out of that before beginning to sing. Gaga went over some of her best songs, starting with Born This Way and continuing with a melody of Bad Romance, Poker Face, Telephone and then ending with Alejandro. I think I was expecting her to be a lot stranger than she actually was though.
The second half of her set was the thing that shocked me. Gaga, along with a trumpet player and her massive piano, launched into jazz songs, Orange Colored Sky, You & I, Edge of Glory and Speechless. Although I didn't know these songs, they showcased just how much of an amazing singer Gaga is and I loved this part of her set. To end with we got to hear Just Dance (which is my favourite song of hers) and most recent single, Judas. Her whole set was amazing and well worth the wait.
My Chemical Romance - This was the band I didn't want to see, mainly due to not even knowing who they were. Next to Gaga though, they ended up being my favourites. Their music is high energy and extremely fun and the band has an amazing presence on stage, fully connecting with the audience and making us a part of their show.
Taio Cruz - Another act I was dying to see. Taio Cruz is hot and it was a dream come true to see him perform live. With massive hits like Dynamite and Break Your Heart, the crowd were going wild from the moment he stepped on stage to the moment he left. It was great seeing Cruz play instruments as well which wasn't something I thought he did.
The Script - The Script are one of my favourite bands and one of the acts I was most looking forward to seeing. The voices are amazing live and sang songs that the audience all seemed to know. While the audience had been singing along all day, The Script seemed to get the best response and were truly speechless at the reception they got. The whole time they played, I was waiting for my two favourite songs, The Man Who Can't Be Moved and For The First Time and I was not disappointed at all when they did get sung.
Katy B - Although I have only heard two songs from this artist, I was extremely disappointed with her. As she came on stage, she looked as though she had just rolled out of bed in jeans, a white vest top and a hoodie. The clothes don't really bother me too much but it was obvious she didn't make an effort at all. While every other band we saw made a massive effort with the audience and interacted with them, Katy B did not. She sang her songs and left. Not someone I would ever think of paying to go and see again.
Professor Green - We didn't watch this act in the Main Stage as it was when the sound clashes were going on.
Olly Murs - A finalist on X Factor, Olly Murs had the shortest set of the day at only 15 minutes long. He was quite good but didn't have the charisma of other bands playing that day. Murs sang both of his previous singles as well as his new one. The highlight of this set was Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave joining Murs onstage and singing/ dancing around with him which was worth sticking around for, even though it was a complete surprise.
The Wombats - Another band we didn't see as we didn't know who they were!
Bruno Mars - What a way to start an amazing day. Bruno Mars stepped on stage and every single girl in the audience was screaming at the top of her lungs. Beginning with Runaway, Mars got the audience in a fantastic mood with this up tempo song and showed off his dance moves at the same time. Mars has had some massive hits such as Billionaire, Marry You, Grenage, Nothing On You and Just The Way You Are and he sang them all along with Money and Lazy Song. Not only is Mars an amazing singer, he had fun with the crowd, even singing the end of one song to one girl in the audience which did make everyone a bit jealous. He really got me excited for what was to come during the rest of the day and due to how fantastic he was, I would definitely pay to see him in a full concert now.
== Overall ==
It was muddy, wet and extremely busy but I wouldn't have changed this day for the world. Tickets were free, apart from my own travel costs, and I got to see some of the biggest bands around at the minute. Even though nearly everyone was amazing, Lady Gaga was certainly the highlight of the day. It is hard enough to get tickets to her concerts with them selling out so fast and I was so excited to see what she would really be like live. I had the best day ever with my blogging partner and cant thank her enough for asking me to go with her. We sang and danced all day even though we were really tired. We sat down on bin bags between performances to try and save our feet and spent a stupid amount on chips but it was really the perfect day for me!
You can find out more and watch footage from both days of this years Big Weekend: Carlisle here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/bigweekend/2011/
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The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) opened in 1985 in Glasgow and is funded by councils and various private sectors. It is an events centre where concerts and various other events are held on a daily basis. ~~~Location Location Location~~~ The SECC is in a prime location a short distance away from ... Glasgow city centre. It is accessible by car and is well signposted from the city centre with ample parking. Alternatively it can be accessed by following the Clyde along the front and cannot be missed. Trains come through the underground from Glasgow Central Station on a regular basis and on leaving the train station, you can walk along an undercover tunnel and straight to the entrance of the SECC.
The SECC is split into 2 buildings. There is the main building and also the Auditorium which resembles the Sydney Opera House. The Auditorium is split into 3 main parts with conference rooms for up to 300 people and also a 3000 seater conference facility.
The main focus is on the main building which greets you as you come through the tunnel as it is triangular shaped with a glass front. Inside, a concourse extends from the automatic doors to the end of the building with a clear layout. This concourse offers the following facilities :
*Access to a 4* hotel
*Access to the Auditorium
*Catering - a cafe offers sandwiches and coffees - also vending machines
*Ticket collection desks (ticketsoup)
*Toilets and changing facilities for babies
*Shop - WHSmith offers snacks and drinks
There are 5 halls within the main building and 2 seminar suites. The halls are clearly marked and can be accessed through large doors.
*Hall 1 - stand alone exhibition hall 775m2
*Hall 2 - 2315m2 of space which can be extended by joining with Hall 1. Can hold over 3000 seated or standing concert goers if extended.
*Hall 3 - 5095m2 which can be extended by joining with Hall4. Can hold up to 5000 people depending on occasion.
*Hall 4 - the largest at 10065m2 and the highest hall which can be extended with Hall3 or Hall5. Depending on seating layout, can hold up to 10000people.
*Hall 5 - 4105m2 alone or extended. Ideal for conferences.
Each hall can be adapted for concerts, exhibitions or conferences and also banquets so every need can be catered for. If you wish to plan and event then you should contact 0141 248 3000 or 0141 275 6211.
There is always something going on at the SECC and a full programme can be found on the website www.secc.co.uk. Tickets can be booked through www.ticketsoup.com and can be collected in the SECC. Various performances take place in the SECC and the current list includes Olly Murrs in May, Elton John in June and also Rihanna in October. Tickets can be booked quite far in advance and you should check the site for up to date prices. Prices for the Elton John concert for example, vary from £35.00 to £65.00 depending on how close you want to be to the stage as concerts are set over different levels. Disabled access is also available for the concerts.
Events and exhibitions vary throughout the year. The Wedding Show is a popular exhibition as is the Travel Show, Technology shows and lots more. The exhibitions are normally extended across a few halls and are set up in stall form for easy navigation around the hall especially at peak times. The price of the shows varies but if you see a promotion offering free entry then snap it up! For a few weeks during the festive season, the SECC is home to the Irn Bru Carnival which consists of fairground type rides, stalls and fun for all the family. Generally this costs around £10.00 per person.
If attending a concert or conference and looking for somewhere to stay, there are few hotels basically on site including the Crowne Plaza, MintHotel and Campanile Hotel and Restaurant. Alternatively, you could stay in the city centre where you will find the Marriott, Hilton or cheaper options such as Holiday Inn. There are plenty of restaurants within the city to suit all tastes and budgets.
~~~Security and Staff~~~
Staff can be noticed by black jackets and the bulk of staff is security with the exception of shop and ticket staff. They can help direct you to the hall you need to be in and are well connected with the rest of the security staff to ensure no trouble happens. They won't hesitate to put you out.
I consider the SECC a big part of Glasgows heritage. Living only a 30min journey by train, should I wish to attend an event, I have easy transport links to the SECC. Over the past few years, I have attended various events at the SECC. The layout of the buillding is modern, airy and non offensive. Whilst I have never had a pleasure of attending an event in the auditorium, I hope to do so in the future but the main hub is the main building.
From the outside, the main building doesn't look massive and you don't really appreciate the size of it until you are inside. With signposting throughout and plenty of staff to assist, it is easy to find your way around. The toilets in the concourse and plentiful as are the ones in the halls and always clean and well stocked. The shop is tiny and doesn't offer much except basic snacks. The cafe is quite expensive as you would expect but the food is of a high standard but we prefer to eat prior or after our visit. So what events have I attended at the SECC?
In the past few years, I have attended 2 musical concerts at the SECC and although it is a tad embarressing to admit, it was Westlife and HearSay! The SECC is the perfect venue for concerts like these. The halls are amazingly transformed from an empty space to a concert hall. Any concert I have attended has been in an extended hall with high seating stacked up at the back of the hall, lots of rows down the front with aisles inbetween.
There are also large televisions if you want a direct view and the main stage can be seen no matter where you sit with some seats having a better view than others. We always sat in the middle rows and despite a few rather tall people in front of us, managed to appreciate the concert. The concerts started off with supporting acts before an announcement for the main act came on and the music came through clear and loud. The buzz in the hall is amazing with flashing lights etc but trying to get out to leave is a nightmare especially if you are driving.
As usual, stalls with the group or singers merchandise are located at the entrance encouraging you to buy overpriced stuff. Personally, I would rather wait and buy elsewhere as they charge just short of a tenner for programmes and it is simply not worth it! The concert tickets are fairly priced considering the venue and the concert halls have always been clean and spacious. I recommend booking tickets far in advance as they do sell out fast especially for certain performances.
~~~Irn Bru Carnival~~~
We went here a last year and a few years ago (New Years Day) and you would be amazed at how busy it gets. You wouldn't think you could fit a carnival fare into the halls but you really see how big the halls actually are during this event. We always booked our tickets on the day which cost a little more but were easy to buy despite how busy it was.
The rides aren't huge and you certainly can't fit a massive rollercoaster or ferris wheel into the hall. There are various small childrens rides for the younger visitors as well as Cat and Mouse rides, spinning rides that tipse you in all directions and dodgems etc. Spending money on prize machines, teddy stalls and food soon adds to the overall cost of your day out. The food includes candy floss, chocolate fountains and burgers. The experience isn't amazing but the bright, fairground atmopshere is amazing.
Last year I was doing my HNC Travel at college and our tutor arranged a discounted trip to the Travel Show for some experience. The Travel Show wasn't massive but did cover halls 1 and 2 with plenty of space to spare. The layout of the hall was in stall form where attendees could wander around and browse at our leisure.
The Travel Show is on every year I believe. On our visit, there were various companies promoting themselves..most offering chances to win holidays and encouraging you to book. There were free sweeties, pens and brochures and we left with lots of brochures for our research but unfortuantely didn't book anything on the day! We spent a good 2hrs in the hall and everyone was welcoming. We only paid a few pounds each because of our course but I can't imagine it being expensive for this one.
~~~Girls Day Out!~~~
My favourite experience of the SECC. This year saw 2 of the halls transform into a man free zone! Myself, Mum, my sister and 2 of the kids attended after printing off free tickets (otherwise £12.00) from the Daily Record website so we only had to pay our train fare! This was a very pink affair which lasted 3 days and is the 3rd year at the SECC. Basically, various companies attended and had their own stalls promoting themselves, offering free treatments such as massage, eyebrow threading etc and offering prizes for entering free comps.
We loved our day out, well few hours here as we didn't have much time to spare. Basically, there were hundreds of companies detailed within a free programme. Companies included Boots (massive stall), DKNY, Yankee Candle, YSL and more beauty, services, fancy goods and even chocolate stalls. We got to sample delicious treats and received lots of samples from perfume to makeup and chocolate. Special offers tempted us at every corner resulting in Mum buying myself and my sister a bottle of perfume each!
There were hourly beauty shows from the likes of No7, a steak restaurant in the middle of the hall, sandwiches and cupcakes but they were highly priced. We indulged in a tipple at the massive cocktail bar in the middle of the hall for £2.00 each and it was high in alcohol and certainly packed a punch. Because we had free tickets, we weren't entitled to a Boots goodie bag but we picked the Complimentary sticker off and got it anyway...a big bag of No7 stuff and vouchers for free! We paid 40p for a Daily Record and got a goodie bag worth £15 for free so lots of goodies to keep my beauty stock going at home!
The best part of the event was the Bare Faced Butlers (see photo). For £50 an hour, a super fit guy wearing nothing but a bow tie and small apron covering his modesty, will butler at your hen night, private party etc. They were wandering around and certainly caught the attention of many! Overall this is the best event I have attended at the SECC and we plan on returning next year.
~~~Recommendation and Conclusion~~~
I have enjoyed every event I have attended at the SECC and I hope to attend many more events in the future. When we set a date for our wedding, I would love to go to the wedding show for ideas and when we are blessed with another baby, I am hoping the baby show is on around that time. The atmosphere, layout and staffing is brilliant and the prices aren't bad but vary so always best to check the website. Food and snack wise, eat before you go as it becomes expensive.
Overall, I can't fault this modern, well designed and adaptable exhibition centre and fully recommend it to you all if visiting the Glasgow area.
Thanks for reading :)
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