Nestled in the heart of North Norfolk, Holkham Hall is one of the UK’s most prestigious stately homes, the residence of the Earl of Leicester, and the venue for a myriad of high-profile events. Business Development Manager Alan Miller has to juggle the needs of the main estate with facilitating weddings, concerts, outdoor cinema screenings and many more events on the grounds. Here Alan tells us more about the estate and how they manage their busy calendar while maintaining the integrity of the land.
Hi Alan, Holkham is a magnificent estate, how do you approach the events planning?
The history of this place is incredible, and we have to balance what we do so that we don’t become too commercial. The Earl of Leicester and his family are very interested in the events side of things, they are a young family, so join in and are very supportive. But we consider every event carefully and turn things down if they’re not right for our brand.
What are the main challenges you face at Holkham?
It’s a delicate venue because there is so much going on here. We have a 3000-acre park that has wild deer roaming around it, we are open to the general public, and Holkham is also an agricultural venue. Farming is a massive part of our history so with events and leisure coming to the fore, we need to protect areas of the park. For large-scale events, you have the infrastructure arriving, heavy vehicles and a lot of visitors turning up. That means we must be very careful in how we plan it all.
How do you use temporary flooring to meet some of those challenges?
Temporary flooring mats are integral to the setup as we move the infrastructure onto the grounds, and we use it to help us protect the park. Imagine you’ve got Lionel Richie playing one weekend - and that means there’s set up happening from the Tuesday beforehand all the way to the Saturday - and then, the week after, you have a triathlon to set up on the other side of the park, but the week after that, you have to stage a wedding. We have to keep everything pristine throughout those weeks so that the bride won’t arrive on her big day to see a muddy field. We have a stock of mats that we can use around the estate for small events, but for bigger ones, we build it into the contract that flooring systems must be provided by the organisers.
So, the organisers must agree to return Holkham to a pristine condition when their event is over?
Yes, that’s right. When we are shown the stage and set up plans for something like our bigger concerts, the first thing we talk about is protecting areas of grass. The promoters know it’s in their interests to make sure they come away with the area in as good a condition as possible. The reparation bills can be eye-watering if not. We do so much of the weddings at the estate on the south side where the concerts are held. That’s where the bride will drive down so it must look right.
You keep a stock of EuroMats for smaller events, why did you pick those?
They are so versatile, and you can move them around easily. At Christmas, we host a food fayre in the courtyard and on the grass nearby, so we used the EuroMats to stand the German chalets on last year. It allowed us to place everything on top quickly and created a lovely entrance to the fayre. In the ‘wash up’ meeting afterwards, we agreed it worked so well that we’ll invest in more mats for the next one.
You’ve also used Geogrid to create temporary car parks too. Has that worked well?
It has! Our visiting numbers have trebled, and our existing car parks can’t cope. Then there’s the problem of the weather, and how to get cars on and off the site safely - we don’t want a quagmire where people get stuck! Grass is hardy stuff, but it can take around six weeks for it to grow back, so we try to protect it instead using Geogrid. Before events, our landscaping team plan everything - where we are going to move the traffic, the right places for overflow car parks, etc. We don’t want to build car parks all over the estate, this allows us to cleverly manoeuvre them without wrecking the land.
Would you recommend other events professionals find out more about these products and invest in some?
I would - they’ll soon realise they are a great investment. We’re currently looking to buy more and keeping a close eye on the types of matting that are being developed on the market. For venues like Holkham, there’s a chance to host many more events and create different revenue streams because of the flexibility these products give us. It’s a good idea to keep up to date with what companies like Floorbox are doing in the industry so you can make the right investment for your venue.
If you’d like to speak to Floorbox about flooring solutions for your venue, get in touch on 0203 286 7463 or email@example.com.