Flower show and BID team up to target corporate crowd

Taking place in August, Southport Flower Show will attract 55,000 people and generate £4.5m and, in a partnership with Southport BID, is looking to bring in more corporate guests and raise its profile with businesses. Tony McDonough reports

Southport Flower Show
Southport Flower Show attracts around 55,000 people each year


Southport Flower show is just weeks away and organisers are teaming up with Southport BID to increase the number of corporate visitors expected to attend over the four days.

Taking place in Victoria Park from Thursday, August 17, to Sunday, August 20, the event is  the biggest independent flower show in the UK. It was first held in the park in 1924 and was funded and organised by Sefton Council until 1986.

Following the 1986 show the council decided it could no longer fund the event. However, Southport’s business community rallied round and ensured the event would continue.

Around 55,000 people are expected to attend Southport Flower Show with many travelling from across the UK. Now organisers are keen to increase the percentage of corporate guests attending.

They are teaming up with Southport BID, which represents traders across the town, in an effort to increase the event’s visibility among the Liverpool city region’s business and professional community.

BID chief executive Rachel Fitzgerald told LBN: “We believe it is time to raise the profile of the event with businesses, both locally and across the city region.

“Not only does the show offer a fantastic day out, it is also a golden opportunity to entertain clients and to network with other businesses.

And the general manager of the show Alan Adams also wants to highlight the multiple corporate sponsorship opportunities the show offers, particularly with its 100th anniversary coming up in 2024.

Alan heads up Southport Flower Show and Victoria Park Management Company, which are registered charities. He leads a team of 10 people organising the flower show and other events, as well managing the park every day of the year.

This is supplemented by around 180 volunteers who give their time to help during the Flower Show. Headline sponsor for this year’s flower show is Harrison Holidays, part of the Harrison Leisure Group.

“We look after Victoria Park every day of the year,” he said. “We are a registered charity who solely rely on profits from the show and income from other events to manage the park and organise the show.

“There are no grants from the council or elsewhere. Some people still think it is a council-run park which hasn’t been the case for nearly 30 years”.

“For years we have mainly been known for the flower show, food and drink festival and fireworks and we offer space for touring caravans as well.

“Since COVID we have had to diversify and bring in new events. We now host a wide variety of other events such as car shows, Seaside Weekender music festival, Sefton Pride, Southport Comedy Festival, Oktoberfest, Ice Skating in the winter and much more”.”

While Southport Flower Show is its biggest event of the year, the annual food and drink festival is not far behind, attracting more than 40,000 people.

Revenues from the Flower Show itself total around £2.3m but the event is worth an estimated £4.5m to the Southport economy. Alan says its entire programme of events are worth in excess of £20m to the town each year.

“What is good for us is good for Southport,” he added. “We are trying our best to attract people into the town who will use the local businesses such as bars, restaurants and hotels and it is all working towards getting Southport back to being one of the UK’s premier coastal destinations.

“The more that we can do here then they will keep coming back and the town will go up and up.”

There is now a steady stream of big events across Liverpool city region catering for a corporate audience. Already this year there has been the Grand National and the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament.

In the week before the Southport Flower Show around 250,000 people are expected to descend on Royal Liverpool golf club in Wirral for the Open Championship, with major abilities offered for corporate guests.

Now organisers of the Flower Show want to capitalise more on this demand for corporate days out.

As well as the usual VIP tickets for all four days which cost £119.00, it is also teaming up with Southport BID to offer the Southport Flower Show Business Lunch on Friday, August 18.

Alan explained: “This business lunch is to encourage both local businesses and those from across the city region to come to the show and see for themselves how great it is.

“Many people might say ‘what do I want to come and see flowers for?’. But the event is so much more than a flower show.

“Of course we have all things flora and fauna. But we also have music, entertainment, food, drink, a great cookery theatre and garden theatre with celebrity guests and children’s entertainment as well as over 300 traders.”

This year Southport Flower Show will offer a different theme on each day, what Alan is calling ‘the four Fs’. Thursday is flowers, Friday is fun, Saturday is food (and drink) and Sunday is family.

Almost 20 celebrity guests will appear across all four days because, as Alan points out, “the power of celebrity translates into ticket sales”.

Well-known names attending will include Katie Rushworth from ITV’s Lovely Garden and  Frances Tophill from Gardener’s World, Countdown co-host Rachel Riley, Daisy Desire, the Drag Queen Gardener and Lee Burkhill from BBC’s Garden Rescue.

On the food and drink day Lisa Faulkner and John Torode from John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen will offer a cookery demonstration and CBeebies presenter Justin Fletcher and celebrity gardener James Wong will be present on the Sunday.


Southport Flower Show
Food and drink is a key component of the annual Southport Flower Show
Southport Flower Show
Ladies Day at Southport Flower Show in 2019
Southport Flower Show
Southport Flower Show takes place in Victoria Park every summer
Rachel Fitzgerald
Southport BID chief executive Rachel Fitzgerald. Picture by Gareth Jones


“Every day is different and every day there is something there for everyone whether you are 18 months or 108 years old,” said Alan. “On Friday we have 300 people attending for Ladies Day in a marquee with entertainment.

“I have been to a number of corporate events where you will have your meal in the marquee and then go outside to watch sport or whatever.

“Our package is only £119 for the VIP Experience and, apart from the three-course meal, you have access to the whole show and a chance to meet some of celebrity guests. There is so much more to do.

“So we really want to get out there and sell the corporate and deals and get more businesses involved with the event. They look at the title and don’t always get the full picture.

“We of course want to get our marquee full. And we also want to encourage people to come here and entertain their clients. We have 34 acres full of things to see and do.

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“It is also with a long-term vision of support and help with sponsorship. Everything is up for grabs at the show in terms of sponsorship. We want to take the show to another level in terms of business support.

“We want people to come and see for themselves how good this is. And we can tailor the packages for them.

“Next year we will celebrate our 100th anniversary. There is a lot of interest already. It brings a lot of opportunities to come and get involved.”

Rachel Fitzgerald added: “I think people are surprised to find out just how big the Southport Flower Show is. It is one the biggest events of its kind in the UK.

“From a longer term perspective it is important we encourage more businesses to get involved with Southport Flower Show. It offers a huge boost to individual business and to the wider economy. We want to help make it even bigger.

“In the last three years, despite the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, the BID has spearheaded multiple initiatives to help accelerate growth in the Southport economy across different sectors

“And we have pushed, with great success, to ensure Southport is better connected digitally. This connectivity is critical for both our traditional businesses in the visitor economy and emerging entrepreneurs in the digital and creative space.

“Diversification of Southport’s economy is essential to its future prosperity. We are getting the word out across the city region, and beyond, that Southport is very much open for business.”

Click here for more information about Southport Flower Show.

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