Initial feedback indicates the Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover in Lewes was a resounding success.
More than 24,000 people flocked to the two-day festival and thronged the town throughout the weekend, taking in fringe events and enjoying the hospitality of the many pubs, restaurants and businesses that had thrown open their doors.
Lewes District Council commissioned economic assessors to monitor activity in and around the town both before and during the festival. Their initial feedback is that the economic benefit to the area could be between £2.5 and £4 million.
Mumford & Sons chose Lewes for their only UK stopover this year because they loved its quirky individuality.
They told their fans in the official event programme: “Lewes has been immensely hospitable towards us so we must ask you to ensure the town feels our gratitude in whatever way we can.”
The welcome the town gave ensured they didn’t just stay inside the festival site at the Convent Field but thronged the streets too.
The High Street was packed from 9am on Saturday. The council’s Tourist Information Centre saw more than 9,400 people in three days and the GOTR Pop-Up Shop there sold out of merchandise. Fringe events with local artists, co-ordinated by the council, were packed and it’s thought that Southover Grange Gardens, which hosted a breakfast session on Saturday, had never been so full.
More than 24,000 copies of the free Stopover Guide produced by the council and Viva Lewes were handed out to visitors and townsfolk. The guide listed fringe events, pubs, restaurants, shops and attractions and encouraged people to visit again.
Council Leader Cllr James Page said: “Our aims were always to bring an opportunity for Lewes businesses to showcase their services and sell their wares, and to put Lewes firmly on the map as a special place to visit and one that’s willing and able to host great events.
“I want to say a big thank you to the residents and businesses, the council staff and all our partners. Together they set a brilliant example of how to respond when one of the biggest bands on the planet says they want to put on a show.”
Comments from festival goers included: “We came down from Newcastle for the Stopover festival and felt compelled to write to commend the fabulous help we found at the Tourist Information Centre. That and the general vibe around Lewes made the whole experience truly memorable.”
Locally, a Lewes business said: “We feel incredibly positive about the whole event and very, very proud of Lewes.”
The council will receive a full impact assessment report in due course.
Cllr Page added: “Summing up the whole Mumford & Sons Gentlemen Of The Road experience I’d say they gave us some magical memories, adopted at least two of our local charities, held a question and answer session with students from Sussex Downs College and supported our local football team. They will be a hard act to follow but Lewes District Council is up to the challenge and open to future requests.”