Thousands of Northern Soul fans will soon be spinning around the Winter Gardens at the UK’s biggest and best Soul Weekender, Friday 14th-Sunday 16th June.
To help guests navigate their way through the British International Soul Festival's jam-packed itinerary of events, here's a guide to what’s on where in the venue, along with the Top 10 tips for getting the most out of this eagerly anticipated event.
Welcome Session, Gillows Bar, Friday, 12pm-2pm
A bonus session for real soul music lovers, hosted by DJs Jem Booth and John Townend, who will be featuring an array of highly desirable "crossover" items on original 45s.
Gillows Bar, Friday 2pm to Sunday at midnight
The first room open this weekend is The Gillows Bar, where you’ll find 60s and 70s heaven for connoisseurs on the ground floor just off the Floral Hall, leading into the magnificent Art Deco Mazzei cafe where snacks and coffees will be served throughout the three-day event.
The Pavilion, Friday 3pm to Sunday 5pm
Home for the weekend to the cream of Northern Soul, the Ritz Revival, Ska, Mod, Twisted Wheel and 60s Club Soul. On the ground floor next to the Northern Soul Department Store.
Empress Ballroom, Friday 8pm to Sunday – Farewell at midnight
The biggest Northern Soul and Motown memories plus the LIVE ACTS on stage. Just off the Floral Hall on the lower ground floor.
Unfortunately Phillip Mitchell will not appearing due to sudden illness
The Olympia, Friday 9pm to Saturday 4pm
Meet here for a Mecca Memories session and Most Wanted! Rare Northern Soul. On the lower ground floor just past the Gillows Bar.
The Derham Lounge, Friday 9pm to Saturday 4pm
For Luxury Modern Soul and Tent Reunion Session. Opposite the Olympia on the lower ground floor.
The Arena, Friday and Saturday, 11pm-3am
On the lower ground floor just off the Floral Hall, where you'll find the walls vibrating to the evening sound of Soulful Dance.
Opera House Saturday 11am-12.30pm
BANG! The Bert Berns Story - a documentary featuring gangsters and soul music tells the story of 1960s record companies in New York, centred around the genius of Bert Berns and his work with Garnet Mimms, Erma Franklin, Solomon Burke, Hoagy Lands, The Drifters, Betty Harris, The Exciters, The McCoys, The Isley Brothers, Van Morrison, Jimmy Radcliffe, Marv Johnson, Johnny Thunder, Ben E.King, Wilson Pickett, Tammi Lynn, Patti LaBelle, Baby Washington and more…
Opera House, Saturday 1pm-2pm
Special guest Q&A with the one and only H.B. Barnum, the producer, arranger, label owner, songwriter, singer who has worked with the biggest names in showbusiness, during a stellar career that dates back to the 1950s and encompasses some of the biggest sounds on the Northern scene.
St John’s Square, Saturday 10am to 4pm
Scooter exhibition and “Ride-in” BISF has exclusive use of St John’s Square outside the building to showcase the Blackpool Scooterfest, which is kindly organised by Paul Livesey and Kevin Mackay from the Blackpool Soul Club. Music is provided by a skilled line-up of local DJs complemented by Mark Wilson and Debbie Wilson who will be on stage at 1pm.
And last but not least...here are the BISF's Top 10 Greatest Tips!
1. Artist "Meet n Greets" and signing sessions
After their performance, the artists have been invited to join the VIP attendees on the North Balcony. This year there will be additional general access signing sessions at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday at the Soulvation stand in the Northern Soul Department Store.
2. The venue will be open to the public from midday on Friday June 14th.
Event wristbands will be available for collection from midday on Friday from the Dome in the entrance to the Winter Gardens. (Please note that for security and control purposes, each wristband must be collected in person). Age policy is as in previous years: Aged 14 and over, however they must be accompanied by parents at all times.
3. Security searches/bag policy
As in previous years, a friendly but full search policy will be in place on your arrival for the safety and comfort of everyone. We understand the need to have larger bags to cater for clothing changes etc. These CAN be allowed in but please be aware that you will be then be responsible for your belongings if the bag is deemed too large to be accepted by our cloakroom staff. Please then keep it with you at all times throughout the weekend.
Apart from the beautiful Art Deco Mazzei café which serves teas, coffees and tasty snacks, there will be fine dining on offer in the Empress Grill Room. Open daily, 4pm-9pm.
In accordance with legislation, smoking is not permitted in the venues, however we will once again have a bespoke smokers exit and re-admittance system in place and details will be in the venue as you arrive.
6. The Event Programme
The official BISF programme is once again free to all attendees this year, including all the things you need to know so you don't miss a thing.
We are pleased to confirm that hand-held cameras are allowed into the venues. However, please be aware that tripods and other clunky "professional" equipment will not be.
8. The Northern Soul Department Store
Open daily from midday to 2am in the Horsehoe, where an array of traders will be selling official BISF merchandise, from rare records to groovy clothing and collectibles.
9. Snake Davis and The Suspicions
Once again the BISF is proud to have the excellent Snake Davis as their musical director.
10. BISF #5 2020
BISF will be back at the Winter Gardens for the 5th Soul Weekender June 12th-14th 2020.
Discounted "early bird" tickets for the 8-room event (The Spanish Hall returns) will be on sale to all attendees to this year. Please note these are limited so please purchase early in the weekend to avoid disappointment. The discounted prices will be notified from start of business on Friday. These tickets will have a limit on supply, and can ONLY be purchased from the venue box office which will be open at the following times:
Friday 14th June 10am-8pm
Saturday 15th June 10am-8pm
Sunday 16th June 10am-8pm.
BISF will be keeping guests up to date over the weekend on their Facebook group.