'Nightmare' Reminisce festival slammed over reports of huge queues and safety fears

By Joe Thomas

Festival-goers says they feared for their safety during Reminisce Festival which took place yesterday.

Revellers who hoped to party at Reminisce described their trip as a "nightmare", claiming they were met with huge queues and unsafe conditions.

Dozens of disappointed ticket holders contacted the ECHO to raise concerns, while the event's Facebook page was flooded with criticism.

A spokesperson for the festival said those behind the event were "disappointed" with some of the problems but still proud of the show, while organiser Lee Butler added: "We really tried our best. We didn’t get it all right and trust me we will learn and fix any issues, I can promise you that."

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Reminisce was held in Sherdley Park in St Helens on Saturday.

Thousands headed to the sold out festival for sets by well-known DJs and artists including N-Trance and Basshunter.

But several said they left early, or would not go again, because of queues, payment issues and concerns over the management of crowds at the event.

One of those disappointed visitors told the ECHO : "I have been the last two years and and it's been absolutely amazing, really well-organised and I have always come thinking 'wow, that was brilliant, I've had a really good time'."

The woman, from Ellesmere Port, said this year was different: "We were in the queue for an hour and people were just getting really annoyed. It took 45 minutes to get a drink and then it was 45 minutes for the toilets."

Once inside, she added: "At first the mood was great because everybody was buzzing to be there. We went to a couple of tents. We had arrived about 12.30pm and queued an hour to get in but the tents were OK at the beginning. But towards 5pm the place was rammed, it was person to person."

Describing her experience in one of the music tents, she continued: "We were right by the metal barriers. Someone was pushing and I was getting squashed against them and couldn't move. My mate was getting squashed and she started to cry. No-one would move."

She said they were able to force themselves out and said: "When we eventually got out it was such a relief.

"I'm not one to dwell on things, I'm very positive and always think the best of things. But the whole experience of queuing, the toilets, being crushed, spending hours to queue... it was just a nightmare."

Another festival-goer raised similar experiences, telling the ECHO: "It took two and a half hours to get into the festival, there was no crowd control whatsoever.

"We queued for 45 minutes for a crate of Amstel for £100. It was supposed to be cash and card however once in it was only cash."

He described the toilets as "disgraceful" and said he too feared for his safety amid the crowd in one of the music tents.

The Reminisce Facebook page was the subject of dozens of similar complaints on Sunday morning.

One festival-goer wrote: "Couldn’t wait to get there this year and introduce some of my friends, waited two years to come and safe to say I’ll never be back! Feared for my safety, queued for nearly three hours to get in and how we ever got in safely I’ll never know."

Another comment read: "Absolutely gutted! Waited in the queue from 1.15 to 4pm by time we queued for a drink and queued to get into the quad [Quadrant] tent it was 5pm... Queues everywhere sucked the joy out of the day... fuming."

And another wrote: "Had a good time once we actually got in. Crammed in horrendous crowds trying to get in for hours on end, people having panic attacks from the crush when queuing."

In response to the concerns, a spokesperson for Reminisce said: "We take the health and safety of our festival goers extremely seriously and pride ourselves in the provision of a great event experience.

"Along with a stellar line up of the usual much-loved DJs playing old school club classics, this year the festival increased their line-up with 90s pop acts such as Atomic Kitten, The Cheeky Girls, The Vengaboys, 5ive, East 17 and many more, all of whom played to fantastic full arenas with the majority of 20,000 people having a fantastic day and night in Sherdley Park.

"The event organisers work extensively with local authorities to ensure that all safety measures and protocols are in place for the protection of our festival goers.

"Whilst Covid restrictions have been officially lifted there are many things that still need to be in place for running festivals this year.

"Covid advice was issued prolifically in advance of the festival by both the festival organisers and the local authorities. Over 400 brand new toilets with hand sanitisation units were ordered on site and increased security were engaged to manage the flow of people, considerably more than the recommended amount."

The organisers said damaged network lines led to the site's internet connection being severely disrupted, meaning card payments failed, but said they ensured free water was available throughout.

They added: "This also meant that the ticketing system on the entrance was running slowly when connecting to the backup 4G system.

"4G networks are known to become unavailable at crowded events, and thousands of customers were unable to download their e-tickets at the last minute.

"This, coupled with additional police and security on arrival this year for the prevention of drug misuse, meant that access to the site was unavoidably slower than usual – resulting in considerable queues when large volumes of people were arriving at the same time."

The statement concluded: "Reminisce are saddened that a relatively small percentage of this year's attendees were unhappy with their experience and ticket holders will be contacted in due course. In addition, as is the usual procedure, a de-brief of the event will take place between event organisers and all local authorities.

"Reminisce will strive to implement anything necessary for 2022 to stop this happening again.

"Reminisce are as disappointed with this year’s problems as everybody else, but are still extremely proud of what was otherwise an incredible festival show."

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