It’s almost time to Party at the Palace in Linlithgow!

Sit Down might be a James anthem but party-goers will surely be on their feet on Saturday when James headline Party at the Palace 2018 in Linlithgow.
Sit Down might be a James anthem but party-goers will surely be on their feet on Saturday when James headline Party at the Palace 2018 in Linlithgow.

Locals wil be gearing up for a fantastic weekend with the fifth Glen’s Party at the Palace being staged this weekend in Linlithgow.

But one local man who won’t be able to relax and enjoy the show is co-founder John Richardson.

Chalk and cheese...Peter Ferguson (left) and John Richardson, co-directors of Party at the Palace, have different views on how best to get through the weekend. But there's no doubting the combination works, with their event winning Best Outdoor Festival at the Scottish Outdoor and Leisure Awards in 2016.

Chalk and cheese...Peter Ferguson (left) and John Richardson, co-directors of Party at the Palace, have different views on how best to get through the weekend. But there's no doubting the combination works, with their event winning Best Outdoor Festival at the Scottish Outdoor and Leisure Awards in 2016.

For while his wife Ellen and children Alice (11) and Ben (5) enjoy the event, and his business partner Peter Ferguson parties with his good friend Gok Wan, John will be busy – making sure the festival runs smoothly.

Having lived in the town for the last 11 years, and knowing that some 40 per cent of the audience is local, John admits to being a “nervous wreck”.

He explained: “It’s a lot of added pressure, knowing that half the town goes along.

“Peter and I are like chalk and cheese – he loves every minute of it, entertaining and smiling his way through everything and I’m a nervous wreck the whole weekend!

Finally booked...Texas are finally headlining Party at the Palace on Sunday, having been on the booking wish list for the last five years. And it comes not a moment too soon as Sharleen Spiteri is planning to take some time off next year. So August 12, 2018, might be the last time you see her and the band for a wee while.

Finally booked...Texas are finally headlining Party at the Palace on Sunday, having been on the booking wish list for the last five years. And it comes not a moment too soon as Sharleen Spiteri is planning to take some time off next year. So August 12, 2018, might be the last time you see her and the band for a wee while.

“You’ll find me beside the health and safety team and police; it’s full on as I want to make sure everyone has a great weekend.

“So if there’s a toilet blocked or someone has fallen over, we’re on it.

“I’m looking forward to it all being over and everyone having had a great weekend.

“We’re expecting 14,000 to 15,000 people over the course of the two days and I feel personally responsible for every single one of them – it’s a huge responsibility.”

Party at the Palace has been a steep learning curve for John and Peter, as neither had experience of planning a major festival.

John worked in the music industry, managing bands, and Peter worked as an events organiser, planning weddings and the like.

But after touring festivals with one of his bands, and a conversation with fellow dads in Linlithgow, John asked Peter what he thought of staging a festival right here in Linlithgow.

He said: “We kept on thinking someone was going to say no to us that first year but the council and Historic Scotland were both on board.

“It has been a steep learning curve but last year’s festival was fantastic; it’s the first one where I felt everything went to plan.

“I’m just hoping it will run as smoothly this year.

“The weather report for the weekend earlier in the week wasn’t great, so we ordered more rubber matting for the bar and heavy traffic areas.

“We also ordered 2000 ponchos – just in case.

“But the weather forecast has improved. It’s the one thing we can’t control but we’ll be ready for all eventualities.”

Organising Party at the Palace has turned into a full-time job for John and and Peter, who are involved in every decision – from how much cutlery to order to booking the bands.

Planning for next year starts as soon as the festival site is cleared and tidied.

And some bands have been on the pair’s radar since the first festival in 2014.

John explained: “Part of the problem is that we started with Simple Minds and Deacon Blue.

“We set the bar quite high from the outset and we’ve had to live up to that.

“I think we’ve managed to do that when you look at some of the artists who have played here – Nile Rodgers, Travis, Billy Ocean, The Proclaimers, the Kaiser Chiefs and Amy Macdonald.

“But we’re delighted with this year’s headliners James and Texas. We’ve been after Texas since year one and James since 2015.

“It’s taken three years of conversations with their management teams but it’s been worth it.

“I’m a huge James fan – you sometimes feel like an Arabian prince, getting to book your favourite band!

“We’re not quite Geoff Ellis...but maybe one day.”

John was able to get an in with James thanks to a trip down to Wembley to see Scotland take on England in a friendly match in 2013.

A Linlithgow friend bought the tickets – in the England enclave! And when James Morrison scored in the first half, the pair couldn’t contain their joy.

John takes up the story: “We saw there were spaces in the Scotland end and asked to move at half time.

“We sat down near the front and this guy and his son came along. We said we’d be happy to move but he said it was okay, he’d sit in front.

“It was James’ lead singer Tim Booth. Funnily enough, he’s got Gordon Strachan on his guest list for PATP!”

Sadly, although Kenny Miller scored a second goal, England won the match 3-2.

But John had landed his own goal – contact with James’ management team ... and it’s now paying off.

He added: “We’ll be in the home straight when James perform on Saturday night so hopefully I’ll be able to relax and enjoy their set!”

WEEKEND TICKETS STILL ON SALE

Glen’s Party at the Palace will be staged this Saturday and Sunday at Lochside Field.

Deemed Best Outdoor Festival at the Scottish Outdoor and Leisure Awards in 2016 and 2017, it has quickly become a firm favourite in the summer festival line-up.

It’s easy to understand why when you take a look at this year’s line-up, with around 60 performers over the two days on three stages.

In addition to Saturday headliners James, Gabrielle, Cast and Mel C are on the bill, along with Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 and the Complete Stone Roses. And on Sunday, The Bluebells, Peter Hook and the Light, Embrace and Imelda May will share the main stage with Texas.

But emerging talent is given a showcase too.

Explaining why, John said: “We sincerely hope that some breakthrough acts will end up on the main stage in years to come. Maybe they’ll remember we gave them a break at the outset and be kind to us!”

In addition to the music, there are a host of good quality food and drink outlets as well as stall holders selling a wide range of goods.

And, priding themselves on a family-friendly festival, there’s plenty to keep the wee ones entertained too.

John said: “Our festival is very much family-orientated so there’s a range of activities on offer for all ages; some are free, others carry a small fee.

“It’s about making sure everyone who comes along, no matter their age, has a memorable weekend.”

On both Saturday and Sunday, gates open at noon with the first act on stage at 1.30pm and the last at 8.50pm.

Weekend and Sunday tickets are still available, although Saturday only tickets are now sold out. Visit www.partyatthepalace.co.uk for more details.