We toddled along to the Freeze Festival yesterday. All in all it was a pretty good event, living up to its name with a festival atmosphere and, yes, it was freezing! I think RetroRentals were doing a sterling trade in renting out their 1980’s one-piece ski suits to all and sundry who came under-dressed and needed a little extra insulation.
General opinion is that it’s a popular event, but I think the organisers need to work out what exactly the event is. Of the retailers I spoke to, there was some comment that it hadn’t been that successful for them from a point of view of sales, and it does get me wondering if the event needs to identify exactly what it is. It’s obvious that, of those who came through the gates, a significant proportion weren’t skiers or boarders and were just there for the music. Equally, the skiers and boarders weren’t in the mood to buy and who would blame them, if you’re going to be drinking and dancing the night away you don’t want to be laden down with bags of shopping. Indeed, after about 7pm, the retail area was noticeably quieter than it had been earlier in the day and by 8:30-9pm TSA, the biggest retailer there had already shut up shop with others following suit.
It was nice to see so many people watching the films on the big TV though. Chasing Ice, Into the Mind and others were being shown and there was a healthy crowd watching these films with plenty of folk standing. With the likes of the Warren Miller film tour and the release of other ski and snowboard films around this time, it could be a good opportunity to tie the event into those film tours which have an established following and fill the cinemas every year. This year’s Motorcycle Live had the Nick Sanders Steampunk Cinema, the first cinema dedicated to motorcycling films, perhaps something similar could be done here.
The rail competitions drew reasonable crowds and the standards were high from the competitors but I can’t help thinking that more could be made of the slope. Compared to the rest of the festival area, it really was very small and wasn’t ‘central’ as such, although it was hard to miss on the way to the main stage.
I think the risk to the event is that if the retailers pull out, then it becomes more and more of ‘just a theme festival’ having less relevance to the snowsports community, but equally, it’s not an Earls Court ski show event.
What would I do? I’d make the retail village and maybe some of the food outlets free to access, and leave the music areas, the snow slope and other event areas in the ticket-only zone. This might encourage the snowsports community to pay the event a visit in the hope of snagging a bargain and they might well then pony up for a ticket to the rest of the event. I also think that it appeals to sections of the snowsports community who maybe wouldn’t have attended the big show at Earls Court and would provide snowsport organisations with a way to engage with a slightly different demographic from that of the traditional skier.
Generally, it’s a great event with a good vibe and apres atmosphere, but it needs to work out what it is trying to be. Granted, this is its first year away from the grand settings of Battersea power station so perhaps this is part of a change. We will see, I’m sure we’ll be back next year anyway.
A few photos from the Freeze festival.
London Freeze: http://www.freezefestival.com/index.php