James play Lancaster’s Highest Point Festival this Thursday, 2nd September. As someone who has lived close to Lancaster for many years, I’ve written us a little guide based on the official information from the festival, and also some local knowledge I hope will be useful. I will also be adding to this if any more information comes to light, so please bookmark and check back.
As you might gather from the name, the festival is being held at the highest point in the city, in Williamson Park, at the top of the hill overlooking Lancaster, beneath the Ashton Memorial, which is the monument visible from the M6 if you are familiar with driving through the area. It is set in a large park, with ponds, trees and good paths throughout, along with a café, playgrounds and other attractions.
It is, however, quite difficult to access, especially as the usual car parks and residential streets nearby will be closed or have restrictions, so I have made some suggestions here for people coming to the festival.
Getting to Lancaster
The official website for the festival tells you to come off the M6 at junction 34 and to follow the signs for the festival. If you are staying in the city centre or intending to park there, then this is the best exit – however, you can also come off sooner, at Junction 33, just after Forton Services with its famous Brutalist tower. From there, follow the A6 to Lancaster, past the Uni and down to the Pointer Roundabout by the hospital, turn right up Bowerham Road and left at the mini roundabout by the Spar and Bowerham Hotel. This is also the best route if you have booked Disabled parking, as the parking there is off Bowerham Road.
This is also a good route if you have booked official parking with the festival.
If you are coming by train, the station is a fair walk across the city to get to Williamson Park – 1.2 miles and 30 mins on a steady uphill gradient, but there is a regular shuttle bus operating from Common Garden Street every 30 mins throughout the day for £2 return. From the station, walk towards the centre and turn right at the traffic lights (against the flow of the one way system) and turn left at the next lights by the back of New Look and the buses all go from there.
Walking from the city centre
Whichever direction you’re going in, it will be an uphill gradient. If you are using Google maps, be aware that the walking directions to Williamson Park direct you to an entrance that is most likely the access for bands and crew and not the public entrance. Do not go along Quernmore Road, but turn up Wyresdale Road, past the Grammar School. Wyresdale Road will be closed to traffic so will be much safer to walk along.
This is a plan of Williamson Park – the public entrance is from Wyresdale Road and NOT Quernmore Road and the official parking is located beyond that Y shaped fork to the right of the plan. The Parking area at 16 will not be in use.
The stage will be set up below the memorial itself at No. 4 and stalls and catering will most likely be in the area behind the memorial and along the surrounding paths.
Be aware that this whole area is atop a hill, with the memorial itself at the apex, although there will be some great vantage points around the memorial if you don’t want to go into the crowd at the stage, as you can see from the image of the memorial above.
If you have booked official festival parking, then follow the signs from whichever junction of the M6 you come off at. The official parking is at the North West Auctions centre, a large area at the bottom of the hill that the park is on and a bit of a steep climb up (but obviously downhill on the way back!). You should have a code for them to scan when you get there – there are a few spaces left at £6.50, go to the Official Parking Page to book.
If you prefer to park a little further out and walk in, there are quite a few options. Street parking in the area will be restricted and there are resident permits in place, but further out, in streets off the A6 Scotforth Road (from junction 33) should be OK. It is probably best, however, to use a proper car park.
There are quite a few options in the centre, with several surface car parks with plenty of parking. DO NOT park in the St Nicholas Arcade multi storey or the Marks and Spencer car parks, as they close with the shops and you will be locked in! Also, please don’t park anywhere near the hospital, as parking there is at a premium at the best of times.
Lancaster has quite a nasty one way system – use Google maps if you can, as it is easy to get lost, confused and pissed off! Basically, the entire shopping area in the centre is encircled by a one way system, so if you miss your turning, you may have to go all the way round to get back! If you are parking in the centre, come off the M6 at Junction 34.
There is a Parksafe facility close to the Train station, castle and city centre, although it is quite a walk uphill to either the park or where the shuttle buses are going from – details and booking here – it costs £9.50 for 4 hours or more and is at postcode LA1 1EQ on China Street.
St Leonard’s Gate
There are two very large surface car parks right in the centre, close to the Grand Theatre and good for if you want to have a look around Lancaster and eat in the city beforehand. They are both at St Leonard’s Gate and set on two levels – upper and lower. The Upper car park is the largest and there are also a couple of smaller ones close by.
Upper Car Park – LA1 1QN, Seymour Street.
Lower Car Park – LA1 1NN, St Leonard’s Gate
Lodge Street Car Park – LA1 1QW
Auction Mart (not to be confused with the official North West Auctions car park)
A medium sized car park just off the one way system by the traffic lights near to the hospital – once you see Kwik Fit on the right, prepare to turn left just before you get to the traffic lights, as the entrance is a bit awkward to see. Postcode LA1 1XU, Thurnham Street.
Park and Ride
Lancaster has a Park and Ride (behind where they have set up a drive in Covid testing centre) at Junction 34 of the M6. The Park and Ride is accessible 24/7 but buses end long before the show does, so you will need to make your own way back there.
Lancaster City Council have also published their own guide to parking in the city centre, here. All the car parks accept cash and the Ring Go app and several accept cards.
Festival Cashless Wristband
For the past few years, Highest Point have operated a cashless wristband system, where you load the wristband given to you with credit, and use it to pay for everything on site. This really reduces queueing time and you can top up via your phone whilst there.
The best way to make sure you don’t have any problems with this is to pre-register your wristband and add credit now. Anything you don’t use will be automatically credited back after the event. You will need the barcode from your ticket, and when they scan your ticket, they will link that to your wristband so you’re ready to go.
The festival have published a comprehensive guide to its Covid regulations for entry to the festival. You will need the Covid NHS Event pass, which you can get on the NHS App (NOT the NHS Covid 19 App) which you can show at the gate. They are also accepting a negative lateral flow test result which, for the Thursday entry, needs to be taken AFTER 8pm on Tuesday 31st August. They are also testing on site, if you cannot do this, but it will obviously hold up your entry into the park
See here for full details – https://highestpoint.co.uk/faq-type/covid-19/