Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter, Heroes and Awards

Another week has passed (weeks at Blenheim Palace seem to pass quicker than anywhere else!) and we can reflect on the Easter weekend.

Despite praying for blue sky and sunshine, we ended up with a fairly miserable 4 days of weather with blue sky only making a first appearance around lunchtime on Easter Monday. Despite this we traded very strongly and the "Butterflies and Bunnies" Easter Egg trail at the Pleasure Gardens was hugely popular - my little girls avoided getting lost in the huge Marlborough Maze and needed only a little help from mummy + daddy (and anyone else they could find to ask!) - they are though still buried under the weight of chocolate at home! The 4 days of Easter 09 saw visitor numbers 80% up on the snowy conditions of Easter 08 - a fantastic outcome given the overcast conditions and this continues our strong trading performance since opening in mid-February. This represents our highest Easter attendance at least back to 1997! The "Buy One Day - Get 12 Months Free!" offer is still connecting very strongly with all of our visitors and we have a growing army of annual pass holders that we hope will connect with us very strongly over the coming months - all very exciting and very positive.

Today has seen the exciting announcement and launch of the "Festival for Heroes" one day concert on Saturday 20 June 2009 - 10 acts have been announced (including Gabrielle, Lulu, All Angels, Blake, Escala and The Automatic) and the one day event will target to raise substantial monies for the Royal British Legion and for Soldiers of Oxfordshire. Very worthy causes that we are pleased to help support and a wonderfully eclectic all-british line-up that everyone should enjoy watching on the day. It does feel very appropriate that Sir Winston Churchill's birthplace should host this event in support of our armed forces and hopefully ticket demand will be strong and the event will meet its targets.

This does virtually now complete our events calendar and we are going to have a very busy summer with "something for everyone" to enjoy through the year - we do though need good weather to ensure good ground for all of our events so the prayers continue for lots of blue sky and sunshine! Our full events listing can be found on the "Whats On" pages of our website.

We have also signed contracts for some major location filming to take place here in the coming weeks - this will be very high profile for Blenheim Palace; very exciting and buzzy to have them with us for around three weeks, but very challenging in delivering excellent customer service to our normal day visitors alongside the filming requirements. We like challenges and I am confident that we can deliver through the excellence and dedication of our staff. It will be a "giant" of a movie when released in Summer 2010.

Next week will be exciting as we go up to York on Thursday evening for the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence event. We are shortlisted in the Large Visitor Attraction category of these highly prestigious national awards and we hope to be able to report success. Everyone has their fingers crossed as this would mean so much to The Duke and to the whole team to receive such recognition.

We hope the weekend weather will be kind and that the annual OX5 fun run - to be started by David Cameron MP who will then also take part in the run - will raise lots of money for local causes.

Life at "Britain's Greatest Palace" rolls on - and we remain pleased to be still in reasonably good shape with lots to look forward to over the coming months.

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