'Unprecedented demand' for Castle Howard music events as stately home's membership soars

At a time when the mantra of staying at home has been part of everyday life for so many, the great outdoors has never seemed more appealing.

Castle Howard Proms.
Castle Howard Proms.

And the desire to take the opportunity to escape the confinement of the past 14 months has seen stately homes across the region record a record number of bookings for landmark events on their estates this summer.

Among the venues which has witnessed a surge in interest is Castle Howard the 17th century country estate situated between York and Malton in North Yorkshire.

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The stately home’s membership has soared during recent months, as local communities have explored attractions closer to home, but it is Castle Howard’s outdoor music events which appear to have captured the public’s imagination more than anything.

The head of marketing and sales for Castle Howard, Abbigail Ollive, told The Yorkshire Post that staff had witnessed “unprecedented demand” for three music events which are due to be held on the front lawns of the estate in August.

The concerts will include Café Mambo Ibiza on August 20, and a performance of Queen Symphonic on August 22, but it is the much-loved Castle Howard Proms on August 21 which have seen the greatest amount of interest.

Ms Ollive said: “The thing that people have missed more than anything is the chance for the shared live experience. While there has been some amazing digital events online throughout the past year or so, nothing replicates coming together for a live music event.

“The Proms will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and I think it will be actually really emotional for a lot people to be able to come together again for such a special occasion.”

Castle Howard has witnessed a 35 per cent increase in membership, rising from 10,000 members in March last year before the first lockdown to more than 15,000.

Tickets sales are well ahead of previous years for the August events, and it is expected that audiences will mirror the 7,000-strong crowds that have been seen previously, amid hopes lockdown restrictions will be fully lifted on June 21.

Major outdoor music and theatre events have become a lucrative industry for the owners of stately homes across the nation, helping to finance the huge costs of running the estates.

Elsewhere in the region, Harewood House, near Leeds, will be hosting outdoor performances of the West End hit musical, Mamma Mia!, from August 13 to 30, while a series of drive-in cinema events will be launched from June 3.

In Derbyshire, Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire which has belonged to the Cavendish family since 1549, will host a production of the Shakespearean tragedy, Macbeth, on August 4.

With the massive growth in demand for al-fresco events this summer, attempts are underway to cater for the surge in interest.

Organisers at Castle Howard are in talks with transport providers to bring visitors to the estate from York and further afield, with interest from Hull, Beverley, Scarborough and Whitby.

Hotels are also staging shuttle services to and from the Castle Howard Proms concert as part of a weekend break package.