Saturday, 29 August 2015

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Carlisle has been a sleeping giant for music – but now it’s woken up

Big-name bands are wakening to the fact that Carlisle is a sleeping music giant – and the whole city could cash in.

Stephen Dunn photo
Stephen Dunn

News this week that boyband JLS will headline a summer concert in Bitts Park has brought renewed excitement to the buzz surrounding the city’s gig scene.

A 20,000-strong crowd could party in the park on Saturday, August 25. It is one of six UK tour dates announced by the chart-toppers. Tickets went on sale yesterday.

It is a date that could prove lucrative for city traders who hope to have their fortunes boosted by an influx of fans from other parts of the country and residents enjoying a big day out.

JLS’ concert is on top of the first Carlisle Music City (CMC) festival being held in June, which promises a week of non-stop entertainment, building on the massive appetite for live music left in the wake of Radio 1’s Big Weekend last year.

Other big music dates featuring major acts are also being held throughout the year at the Sands Centre and Carlisle Racecourse.

More than 30 venues are already on board for CMC, which aims to put Carlisle back on the touring map and boost the city’s music scene, encouraging opportunities for both local and national acts.

Chairman Stephen Dunn said: “It’s absolutely brilliant that JLS are coming to play in Carlisle. Bitts Park is a superb natural venue, it offers so much potential.

“Carlisle is now really building on the fantastic legacy of Radio 1’s Big Weekend. It woke a lot of people up and gave an appetite that will continue to need feeding.

“It is good to see The Sands Centre now booking more music gigs, such as Rizzle Kicks, The Proclaimers and recently Chase & Status.

“And many more venues seem to be in that frame of mind where they want to prove what they can do, so everyone will be a winner. With Madness playing at the Racecourse and with Carlisle Music City still to announce lots of events, the JLS gig beautifully complements an already bouncing summer for the city.

“Carlisle has so much to offer and has always been in many respects a sleeping giant.

“I think that giant’s woken up and is taking its first steps in learning to dance.”

Last May’s Big Weekend at Carlisle Airport – headlined by global megastars Lady Gaga and Foo Fighters – saw about 40,000 music fans spend £1.7m.

The excitement created by that two-day spectacular has fuelled a determination that Carlisle should not be allowed to become a backwater for gigs and major acts.

Confirmation that JLS are on their way has been welcomed by those working to drive the city’s economy forward and build on Radio 1’s legacy.

Marilyn Bowman, the city councillor responsible for economic development, said: “We are all thrilled that JLS and guests will be performing in Carlisle this summer.

“Live music plays a key role in attracting visitors, as we experienced with Radio 1’s Big Weekend last year, helping further boost the county’s tourism economy.

“Not only do we have Carlisle Music City in June but now JLS in August. How fantastic for residents and visitors.”

Council leader Mike Mitchelson added: “This event will further promote Carlisle as a great venue for live music events, especially as we’re the only venue they will perform in the north west on their summer tour.”

JLS tour spokesman Dion Clements said more “really special guest performers” will be announced in the coming weeks.

The boyband JLS first shot to fame on X Factor and rocketed to more success with the recent launch of their third album Jukebox.

The concert, staged in association with CFM, takes place at Bitts Park on Saturday, August 25. Tickets on sale now, £33.50 plus booking fee. Visit or call 0844 8889991. A limited number are also available via Carlisle Tourist Information Centre. More details at



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