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Could Butlin's return in 2024?

Could the sale the resort group for £300m see the brass band championships return in 2024?

Butlins
  The last event took place in January 2022 with 29 competing bands

There may be a faint glimmer of possibility that the Butlin's Brass Band Championships could return in 2024 following the news that the parent resort group has been bought by the Harris Family Trust for a reported £300m.

The event last took place in January this year following the cancellation of the 2021 Championships due to Covid-19. However, it was revealed that due to "calendar issues" there would be no festival in 2023 although organisers were "working together to secure a date for 2024."

However, no news has since been made public about progress due to the protracted sale of the company, which The Guardian newspaper first highlighted in December 2021.

Revived

Initially revived in 2003 with a link to the defunct CISWO Mineworkers Championships, the Butlin's Championships quickly became very popular, offering generous prizes funds for competing bands as well as additional music and entertainment attractions for those staying at its Skegness resort.

In total it paid out over £600,000 in prize money alone over the next 18 years, although the contest started to struggle to retain interest due to the early January calendar date — the last event in 2022 taking place on the second weekend of the year.

The 2022 event attracted 29 bands.

Latest chapter

It is the latest ownership chapter in the company's history — one which was founded in 1936 in Skegness by Billy Butlin, and at its height included eight UK based resorts as well as hotels in the Bahamas and Spain.

In the 1970s it was sold to the Rank entertainment conglomerate which in turn sold it to Bourne Leisure in 2000. That group was sold as part of a £3bn deal to a consortium including the US private equity group Blackstone and the Harris, Cook and Allen families in January 2021.

The new deal does not include Butlin's property assets that were sold earlier this year to the UK's biggest private pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme, for a reported £300m.

We are delighted to reaffirm our love for Butlin's and once again be the new owners of this great brandPaul Harris

Investment plans

A report on the new sale came in The Guardian newspaper, where Paul Harris, on behalf of Harris Family Trusts, stated: "We are delighted to reaffirm our love for Butlin's and once again be the new owners of this great brand."

He added: "We look forward to working alongside the Butlin's leadership team as they strive to deliver their strategic plan for the business and help them accelerate their investment plans to give our Butlin's guests an even better holiday experience."

Whether or not this includes a return for the Brass Band Festival was not revealed, although in a further response, Lionel Assant, European head of private equity at Blackstone, said: "Butlin's is in a strong position to take advantage of the continued growth in the staycation market, and I have no doubt it will continue to flourish."

4BR has tried to contact the company for further comment.

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