The Sefton Park Pilot event takes place on Sunday 2 May. Photo credit: Ant Clausen

Liverpool hosts the country’s first nightclub and festival gigs in over a year

All eyes are on Liverpool this weekend as the city hosts the first nightclub gigs and music festival since lockdown in March 2020.

Circus Nightclub is running two gigs at Bramley Moore on Friday 30 April and Saturday 1 May, while the Sefton Park Pilot will see Blossoms headlining a music festival on Sunday 2 May.

It follows the first business conference since lockdown which took place at ACC Liverpool on Wednesday, followed by a comedy gig.

They are part of the government’s Events Research Programme, which it is hoped will pave the way for the reopening of sectors of the economy in which large numbers of people come together.

People attending have to prove they have had a negative Covid-19 test and are also asked to have a follow-up test five days later.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND. The Good Business Festival at ACC Liverpool, as part of the Government pilot events, a science led Events and Research Programme (ERP) with lateral flow testing before and after the event to get audiences back safely as restrictions are gradually eased. 28 April 2021. Picture: Jennifer Bruce/Liverpool City Council.

We have spoken to some of those involved in making the events happen.

DJ Yousef, from Circus, said: “I feel like I am representing the city. It’s a huge responsibility for all of us obviously because the whole point of this is to get enough data to move forward for June 21st.

“I am supremely excited just to play music and be with people under normal conditions, and there’s also definitely one eye on the reality of what we’ve all experienced over the last 14 months, the difficulties and the deaths that everyone’s gone through. So I’m definitely thinking of that too.

“I want people to leave here thinking it was a Covid pilot to move forward, but importantly for me as well, I want make sure they leave having had the best time anyway under any circumstances.”

Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, said: “Live music is a must have in my life, and a year without it is a year too long.

“The Sefton Park Pilot is the most important event in the Event Research Programme for getting festivals back this year and I’m delighted to play my part.

It’s not about vaccines, it’s not about passports, it’s not about limiting it to a section of society only: it’s about a universal approach to our love of live music for all and demonstrating we can do it safely.” 

Claire McColgan, Director of Culture Liverpool, said: “This is a chance for us to prove that you can do events safely. That you can do them well. You can work with brilliant partners like Festival Republic., the Good Business Festival and Circus and we can get this economy up and running really safely.

“This is probably one of the hardest things that we have done because normally in city events you have your safety groups and you go through those and just worry about the weather. This has had a completely other level to it. It has gone through every level of Government, up to two ministers to be signed off.

“There’ve been hurdles along the way and for everyone who has decided to come to these and events and be that pioneer, be that person who does that first dance on Friday evening or come to the first music festival in the country on Sunday, it’s down to you that this is happening. You are pioneering and making the space for the rest of the country to open up.

“The learning that we find here will inform how we go to festivals in the country, so when you look back in 20 or 30 years you can say ‘I was there. I made that happen’.”

Director of Public Health, Matthew Ashton

Director of Public Health, Matthew Ashton, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Liverpool to be part of the national Events Research Programme and thanks to everyone who has agreed to be part of this.

“We’re really going to help to understand what works to keep people safe at events like this one and that will allow us to feed in the evidence that will help us reopen the economy in the future.

“Before the events, everybody has to have a negative lateral flow test for their ticket to be activated and then five days after we’re asking people to take a PCR test. All of this stuff together gives us the evidence base that we need.”

Professor Iain Buchan, Dean of the Institute of Public Health at the University of Liverpool, said: “Events are an important part of the wellbeing, social fabric and economies of communities, particularly in Liverpool.

“We have a long history of pioneering public health work and world class research facilities.

“It means we are, with the support of our communities, uniquely placed to support the Government with this project. Helping make events safe for us all to enjoy as society reopens during the spring and summer.

“There is no better time to be doing it than now: the risk is low, we have infection rates that are below the national average and the vaccine rollout is going well.

“Our learning will be key – capturing what works and what doesn’t – to get the UK economy back on its feet, and life back to a ‘new normal’ for the entire nation.”

An open-air cinema event – Luna on the waterfront – is taking place from 14-16 May.

The events will be evaluated by university researchers with the findings fed back to the government to inform the roadmap to easing restrictions.

More information about the events can be found at

Liverpool Waterfront