Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Wireless Festival: Thousands expected

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Media captionCelebrating its 10th anniversary, Wireless Festival is visiting Birmingham for the first time

Thousands of visitors will descend on Birmingham this weekend for the Wireless Festival.

The event from 4 to 6 July is being jointly held at Birmingham's Perry Park and London's Finsbury Park and will feature Kanye West and Bruno Mars.

It is the first time the event has visited the Midlands.

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said it was expected to provide a boost for local businesses, particularly hotels, restaurants and bars.

The three-day festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is one of the biggest in the country and last year attracted about 60,000 visitors to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

This year, performers include Ellie Goulding, Robin Thicke, Rudimental, Labrinth, Outkast and Pharrell Williams.

Headliner Drake, however, had to drop out at the last minute, due to ill health.

Festival organisers said visitors would each receive £20 of credit to spend at the festival - on items such as food, drink or merchandise - to make up for Drake's absence.

British band Rudimental tweeted: "Gutted @Drake wont be performing at #Wireless, but #Birmingham we'll be playing a special extended set on Friday in his absence."

Gates opened at midday and special coaches have been put on to bring festival-goers to Birmingham from across the country, including Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Leeds.

Several local bus services are serving Perry Park from New Street and Moor Street railway stations.

A car park has also been set up at Perry Hall Park, close to the main venue.

Traffic was heavy around the festival on Friday afternoon, with delays on the A34 Birchfield Road in both directions in Perry Barr.

Image caption Bruno Mars is headlining the main stage in Birmingham on Saturday

'Showcase city'

Dr Steve McCabe, a business expert at Birmingham City University said while it was difficult to predict how many people would visit the city over the weekend, a lot of businesses were expected to benefit.

"It's a bit like being on holiday, you spend more than you ought to.

"There's bound to be a positive effect for local businesses. The first thing people will need is accommodation, because people won't be camping like at Glastonbury.

"Local clubs could also benefit after the music stops."

Some night clubs in Birmingham have already moved to offer festival-goers discounted entry on display of a wristband.

Prof David Bailey, from Aston Business School, said there could also be long-term benefits for Birmingham, with the event, if successful, showcasing the city to visitors and boosting its prestige both nationally and across the world.

Some businesses around Perry Park, home to the Alexandra Stadium, however, have previously said they expected very little extra business as a result of the festival, based on their experience of other events at the venue.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Wireless runs until Sunday at Birmingham's Perry Park
Image copyright PA
Image caption Rapper A$AP Ferg played the main stage on Friday afternoon
Image copyright PA
Image caption Security guards had to pull Marty Baller out of the crowd during his set
Image copyright PA
Image caption Schoolboy Q took to the stage before Friday headliners Rudimental

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