Belfast Telegraph

Vital festival makes welcome return to Ulster

By Heather McGarrigle

The return of a much-loved music festival has been described as a "superb boost" for Northern Ireland's tourism and economy.

The Tennents Vital festival, last held in Belfast in 2007, will return this August to a new venue - Bangor's Ward Park.

To be held over August 23 and 24, a three-year, "seven figure" investment means the music event is set to run again in 2012 and in 2013.

Joy Bond, events manager with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said the festival's return would attract audiences from "right across these islands and beyond".

She said: "It is a superb boost for all of us with an interest in promoting Northern Ireland as a visitor destination and will reinforce our image as a European centre for contemporary live music."

The last Tennents Vital in 2007 drew a combined audience of 45,000 over two days, to see acts including The Killers, Razorlight and The Manic Street Preachers.

Partnering with MCD Promotions for Tennents Vital 2011, a spokeswoman for Tennents insisted the success of Belfast's Belsonic festival "was not a factor" in the decision to move the festival from the city.

The first Belsonic festival was held in August 2008, the year Tennents Vital was cancelled.

The spokeswoman said Ward Park, which famously welcomed more than 40,000 fans to Snow Patrol's concert there last year, would "achieve a model that would work for the consumer, at a venue which can support the experience we want to offer."

The park could see crowds of 35,000 on each day of the concert.

Managing director of Tennents NI, Tom McCusker, said the company had focused on change since the last Belfast festival.

"In September 2009 the C-amp;C Group paid £180m for Anheuser Busch InBev's operations across Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, following which we were fully committed to restructuring and realigning our business.

"As a result Tennents Lager became our priority brand here in Northern Ireland, alongside Magners Cider. Repositioning those brands paved the way for major investment which today includes a seven figure sum securing three years of Tennents Vital."

"The scale of the event means that it will inevitably bring wider economic benefits."

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