Bootle welcomed the first ever Salt and Tar Big Comedy Weekender, which has been hailed as a huge success, with more great events promised at Merseyside’s newest events space.
The event took place over the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend, May 26th-28th, 2023, at the brand new Salt and Tar events space adjacent to the canal at Washington Parade in Bootle.
It was organised by Sefton Council’s tourism team in collaboration with Big Comedy UK, the organisers of the annual Southport Comedy Festival, who gathered the biggest names in comedy, including stars from Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, and Have I Got News for You.
Chris McCausland, a comedian and TV star from Liverpool, headlined the festival’s opening gala night alongside award-winning comedians Nina Gilligan and Patrick Monahan.
King of live comedy Irish funnyman Jason Byrne headlined the Sunday night show alongside TV comedians Scott Bennett and Jo Caulfield, with Bren Riley hosting both events.
Families enjoyed special daytime Family Fun days with comedy bingo and children’s comedy shows from Britain’s Got Talent finalist Steve Royle and circuit legend Martin Bigpig Mor.
Bingo Nights UK brought their hugely popular Disco Bingo giving guests the chance to win fantastic prizes.
All the shows were performed inside a luxury heated marquee provided by Elite Marquees with lots of seating and great facilities.
Prices were kept deliberately low with tickets starting at just £5.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills said:
“It was incredible to see how successful the Comedy Weekender at Salt and Tar was. It is a testament to the effort and dedication from everyone involved over the last few months.
“This is just the start of what we believe will be a huge boost to Bootle and the Sefton community from Salt and Tar.”
Brendan Riley from Big Comedy UK said:
“This was the first Salt and Tar Big Comedy Weekender and it was a huge success, very well received by the people who came to see it. We are really pleased with how it went. It has been really positive for the area. The line-up was very strong, but you are never sure about how a new event will be received until it happens.
“It was always going to be a pop-up festival and will be the first of many great events taking place at Salt & Tar now over the coming months and years. There is more infrastructure coming to the site over the coming weeks which will help to make it more established.
“It has been a really great starting point, and it will only grow from here. It is all about establishing Salt & Tar. When Camp & Furnace first opened in Liverpool people were asking ‘what is it?’ but it’s iconic now. That same situation applies to Salt & Tar now, and this shows just what is possible.
“It was all about establishing the site as a brand new events space, somewhere local people can become really proud of. When word began spreading about the comedy weekender, people started asking ‘what is Salt & Tar’?
“That is exactly what we want people to be asking! We want Salt & Tar to become a real talking point in the region. There were a lot of local people coming to see the gigs and we got great engagement from them, and lots of people who came to see the shows from outside of Bootle too. Salt & Tar is very close to the Bootle New Strand train station so it’s very accessible for anyone travelling via Merseyrail and it’s very close to the bus station too, so it’s perfect for people arriving via public transport.
“We loved being a part of it, and would love to do it all again next year. It has been great to be involved. We have really enjoyed working with the Tourism team at Sefton Council, with Elite Marquees, and others to make this happen.”
The venue has been named Salt & Tar to refer to the Bootle’s rich industrial heritage, with the Brotherton’s Tar Distillery on Hawthorne Road and the area’s historic link to the salt trade.
A 2023 event calendar is already in place including a music festival with high profile headline acts, a Food and Drink Festival, outdoor cinema screenings, community events and live music, markets, and beer festivals as well as a Christmas event programme.