11th Hour at Kew The Music

Kew the Music is a programme of music events that takes place over six nights at the historic Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, south-west London. This year’s event witnessed headliners The Corrs, Simply Red, Will Young, Jools Holland, Bjorn Again and Gypsy Kings, play to over 40,000 people during the week. The stunning grounds of Kew are a far cry from the churned up fields of many a UK Festival but whilst for those in attendance the bucolic setting offers prosecco-fuelled partying of the most civilised sort, the narrow pathways and tree-lined lanes present an altogether different face to the team charged with installing the infrastructure for the gigs.

Kew wished to deliver the greenest, most fuel-efficient event possible and promoters Kilimanjaro Live engaged Cardiff-based 11th Hour Events to meet their stringent demands. At the main stage itself, 11th Hour provided power for lighting, sound, video screens and working lights addition, the company supplied power to the backstage area, artist facilities, concessions, caterers, hospitality areas and toilets as well exit/safety lighting. Architectural lighting of the trees in the gardens completed a comprehensive installation. Meeting the environmental demands of the brief entailed the use of amongst other things, smaller generators, LED lighting and LED Hybrid Towerlights.

For 11th Hour, such an all-encompassing brief is of course not unusual but in this case, the very nature of the setting that makes this event such a popular draw, presented the team with anything but an easy install.

Founding Director and Project Manager for the Kew event, John Davies said: “Quite simply, the venue is a logistical nightmare. It took five days to get all our equipment on to the site, using a combination of golf buggies and trailers, winding our way along the narrow lanes of Kew’s ‘backstage’. The trucks had to offload into the Brentford Road car park, leaving us almost a mile to transport everything between the ornate glasshouses on countless return trips. Everything had to go in and out in this manner – I guess the designers of Kew, way back when, hadn’t foreseen the need for a decent wide road to service a week-long music festival! Of course as such an important heritage venue, it’s perfectly understandable that the team at Kew are very sensitive to the impact of such an event and we paid the utmost attention to respecting the integrity of the site.”

In all, 11th Hour spent two weeks at Kew. The event was extremely well-received and the company’s essential contribution to this success did not go unnoticed. Kilimanjaro Live, organisers of Kew the Music, have agreed a further two year deal with 11th Hour for the same provision, something about which Davies and his hard-working team are justifiably pleased. He continued: “We had a great electrics crew working on this project including Peter Watts and Simon Jackson, who worked with great dedication. At 11th Hour we work on the basis that nothing is too much trouble, no challenge is insurmountable and that come what may, we will deliver excellence. A project like Kew the Music is by no means the largest scale project we undertake but it’s a good illustration of how the circumstances surrounding an event can add to the pressures. We’re delighted that the organisers want us back and we’re looking forward to next year’s event, golf buggies and all.”

Kilimanjaro Head of Operations, Zac Fox, concluded: “11th Hour were a real pleasure to have at Kew the Music. They involve themselves fully within the wider team and are great at working with us on finding solutions, both on the environmental focus and when those unavoidable little problems arise. I’m looking forward to working with them again next year.”