Here at Spring HQ, we’re BIG fans of the Kendal Mountain Festival. We love the vibe, those inspirational films are awesome – some of them are proper life-changing, mental health affirming little gems, others are simply cool. We love the vibrant outdoor personalities that swarm to the event – our heroes and stars – and we adore Joe Public, eager to find out more about the people behind their favourite brands. Yep, we’re big, big fans of KMF. So, what’s the deal this year? We mean, is Basecamp Village – the drinking, the retailing, fun hub of the event – going to happen? All those crowded lecture theatres showing the latest films, can these go ahead? This week we sought to find out and co-organiser, Clive Allen, was happy to share with us. This is what he had to say ….
Will it, won’t it happen Clive? Please tell us!
We are determined if at all possible, to go ahead with the event. We did have the worry that, if for some reason this area was put on lockdown, we might have to go digital-only but never contemplated cancelling it. And Lockdown feels unlikely because that tends to be more the case with city-based areas. All the same, the juggling act is to make it work. We have been working back from the worst-case scenario which is a lockdown and digital-only – and how we make that add up financially. But we also hope that we’re going to be doing a safe, live event as well.
Phew, Clive! You don’t know what a relief that is to hear! We were lucky enough to sit in on the Webinar for the World’s Biggest Ski Show launch. It looked awesome! Walking through snowy streets, ski technique training from Olympians. How will KMF work digitally?
“We’ll be using one of the premium digital platforms that are out there. The intention is to use a combination of streaming for live events and online sessions for the films, bringing it into your home. So many people come to the Festival and tell us that, because there’s so much to do, they didn’t get to see everything and had to leave and miss a chunk. They often ask if they can see stuff online and we’ve never been able to say yes. Now we’re looking at a four-day Festival that extends over 10 days with the main weekend of 19-22 November being live, and the following week is a catch-up for all the things that were missed.”
We like how a negative has changed to a positive. We are guilty of not getting around the whole Festival so this is music to our ears. It’s a win, win!
“Well, you could put it like that. We have certainly been putting the groundwork in. We’ve had the benefit of seeing all the other major music and mountain festivals having to go online and have seen what works and what doesn’t. You know it’s been tough for some festivals for sure. We were heavily into the Hay Literary Festival this year and they did a bloody good job. Because they were able to make it free it reached a huge audience. We have to have a paying structure but still think we’ll expand our audience. There’ll be no going back to the old way of doing things. What we do going forward will be affected by what we do this year”.
We think you’re spot on there Clive. This isn’t a temporary situation but a long-lasting one. Plan for the future, not a stop-gap. But say there’s no lockdown, are you going to be cramming everyone into the Basecamp Village? We mean, that place can get pretty busy. (Especially when Hydro Flask has their Happy Hour!)
It will be different this year. If you can imagine something along the lines of a Christmas Market, but in our own special style and spread out between locations so we can manage spacing and flow. It won’t be all under one roof, and you might want to ensure you bring your waterproofs!
Don’t worry Clive, we’ll be wearing our Polartec NeoShell jackets!
Well, you’ll be alright then. We have lots of space options which is great; I think people would be worried if we said the Basecamp is going to happen as normal. Clearly, we can’t do that. The brand partners expect us to be doing something different as well. The good thing is the majority of our brand partners have stuck with us which is fantastic. The other major positive …
What! There’s more?
Haha, yes there is. The other major positive is that we can bring speakers in virtually that we find it hard to get hold of physically. So if there’s some big star from the States it’s dead easy to talk to them in their front room. However, we always want that sense of theatre so just two people chatting is never enough. The major sessions are well known for their unique atmosphere – lots of excitement, house bands, stuff like that – and we want to replicate that. People are sick of Zoom so you need to elevate the experience. Likewise, we don’t want the whole thing to be virtual. We’re trying to get as many physical speakers as possible to the event space and have a real audience too.
That’s a great idea. We remember Have I Got News For You back in April and it was terrible without a real audience, the jokes didn’t seem as funny without the sound of audience laughter.
“Precisely. We want the hum of something going on. Without that, it can be a bit sterile as you say. Even with social distancing, venues like the Leisure Centre that normally seats 900 can give us a decent-sized audience. Of course, the big unknown for us is, is how many people will turn up? We just don’t know yet.
You need a great PR company, Clive. Just kidding. We learned this little phrase from Kristin Carpenter at Verde Brand Communications and use it a lot, so here goes, “What does success look like?”
“Success looks like a happy audience. If the audience is happy then we’re happy. As far as we’re concerned, it’s more about what we can do to influence people and make their lives better. There’s so much behind the scenes that we do with schools and charities that aren’t publicised but is really needed and appreciated up here in the Lakes, we want to keep that going for the good of our outdoor community.
Yep! KMF has enhanced our lives. We’ve met lots of great ambassadors and watched some brilliant films. One that taught us a life lesson is “Stumped”: a great climber first and foremost, a woman second, with a disability third. We so often get these things in the wrong order. One of the many motivating films! Thanks for your time Clive!