Preston’s Guild celebrations are to bring nearly £20m flooding into the city over the next week.
Organisers are expecting 862,000 people to head to the city for processions, music concerts, a Vintage festival and religious celebrations, bringing more than £18m into the city.
Hotels across the city are reporting strong bookings, with shops, bars and restaurants also gearing up for a busy 10-day period. The events get under way with the historic third proclamation of the Guild tomorrow morning, followed by the trades procession, which will see thousands of people representing businesses parade through the city centre.
Guild festival director Stella Hall said business would be at the heart of the celebrations.
She said: “We are delighted at the buzz and excitement that Preston’s local businesses are experiencing.
“Business is at the heart of the Guild, we have been working with our sponsors for more than a year to make this special year happen, from hosting the Be Inspired Business Awards (BIBAs) and Rise business week events to the amazing spectacle that will be the Trades procession on Saturday morning. The week will well and truly put Preston in the minds of regional businesses for years to come.”
Paul Heathcote, the celebrity chef who chairs the body representing Lancashire’s tourism trade, Marketing Lancashire, said the thousands of extra visitors would bring a huge lift.
He has called for the creation of a number of “mini-Guilds” leading up to the next event in 2032. He said: “We need something which is going to stay in people’s minds. Every summer we need to use the Guild name to do something to bring people to Preston. Then, when we get to 2032, it will not come as a surprise to people.”
Daniel Rich, manager of the Holiday Inn in the city centre, said it was booked out for three of the days of the main programme and expected to be “very busy” for the rest of the time. It has returning Prestonians from as far afield as Australia and Singapore booked in, as well as hosting organisers and acts involved in events.
Gaston Gonzalez, manager of the Marriott Hotel at Broughton, said it was booked out “except for a few rooms” for the coming weekend.
Andrea Mellon, the owner of tapas restaurant Duk, on Lancaster Road, said: “We are involved in the food festival on Winckley Square at the weekend, the Cake City project and the BIBAs on Friday night, so the Guild provides us with a great shop window as well.”
Alan Dent, marketing manager at the St George’s Centre, said was hosting a ‘pop up’ shop selling vintage clothes ahead of this weekend’s Vintage Guild event, with its Cafe Fresch even creating its own Guild sandwich.
Preston Bus operations director John Asquith urged people to leave plenty of time before travelling into the city centre.
He said road closures on the days of the processions would cause problems, but they would be putting in extra resources.