Free outdoor cinema is highlight of BID’s city centre family festival

FAMILYFEST LAUNCH: Alanna Dent, of St George's Shopping Centre, Keith Mitchell, Fishergate Centre manager, Andrea Mellon, Duk-Pond owner and Alan Catterall, BID ambassador

FAMILYFEST LAUNCH: Alanna Dent, of St George's Shopping Centre, Keith Mitchell, Fishergate Centre manager, Andrea Mellon, Duk-Pond owner and Alan Catterall, BID ambassador

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Preston’s historic Flag Market is to be turned into an outdoor cinema as part of a massive city-wide day of events aimed at attracting families to the city centre.

Familyfest is a major event aimed at giving families a day-long package of entertainment in the heart of the city.

A covered grandstand will be set up for crowds to be able to watch films as part of the free event organised by Preston Business Improvement District (BID). If successful, the massive gathering could become a regular event.

Familyfest will show four family favourites on a huge screen on Saturday, October 25.Preston BID – an independent collaboration involving city centre businesses, the chamber of commerce and Preston Council – organises regular events, often aimed at business and the night-time economy.

It is the first time the group has specifically targeted a family audience.

BID’s events manager Mark Whittle said: “This an exciting new addition to our programme of events aimed specifically at families. There is a feel-good factor about it. We are saying to families – come to town and you will have a great day. And it’s all free”

Films will include Disney hit Frozen, The Lego Movie, The Chronicles of Narnia and the original version of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, which will be shown on one of the world’s best-quality outdoor screens.

And there will be further entertainment laid on across the city centre throughout the day.

Familyfest will also run alongside the first-ever Comic Con convention at the nearby Guild Hall, which is expected to attract thousands of fans of comics and sci-fi films.

BID’s Chairman John Boydell said the organisation hoped to show families what Preston city centre had to offer.

He said: “We are laying on a series of classic family films which will be screened completely free of charge. We are a truly family friendly city, and events like this are our way of saying, come and enjoy Preston; everyone will be made most welcome”.

“Our only hope is that we can fill our covered grandstand with as many families as possible to enjoy the films, but spaces are strictly limited so we would advise people to turn up early.”

The Guild Hall is now being run by Preston Guild Hall Ltd after being sold by Preston Council to businessman Simon Rigby.

Comic Con will see stars of the big screen, including Guardians of the Galaxy star Spencer Wilding and Michael Henbury who has had roles in Star Wars, and comic book authors and illustrators visit the city for the first time.

Richard Simkin, head of operations for Preston Guild Hall Ltd, said: “Comic Con is the first of its kind here in Preston.

“Comic Con is hugely popular over in the USA and its popularity is going to be making a big splash here in the UK, The Guild Hall are excited to be on the journey with this convention.

“Preston can expect all the big comic book stars and characters from blockbuster films.”

The Familyfest movies on the Flag Market will be presented by BBC Radio Lancashire and introduced by Lancashire favourite John “Gilly” Gillmore, with some characters from the films on show expected to put in an appearance on the day.

BBC Radio Lancashire’s managing editor John Clayton said: “It’s an amazing idea and we’re delighted to be involved in what will be a first for Preston and hopefully become a regular event.”

Movies will be screened throughout the afternoon.

The programme is: noon –Disney’s Frozen; 2pm – Lego The Movie; 4.15pm – The Chronicles of Narnia; 6.45pm– Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (original version)

For more details on Familyfest, visit www.bidpreston.co.uk.