A SELL-out 'Happy Festival' at the Ashley Hall Showground last weekend has become a fantastic new fixture, with attendees declaring it a huge success.

The idea for the festivals came in 2015 when Tracey Donnelly and her brother Chris, a Bowdon resident, were looking for somewhere to go for a night out and realised that their generation weren’t catered for.

“HAPPY has been held once every few months in various local venues including the Stamford Arms, Bowdon Rugby Club and Hogans of Hale”, said Tracey.

“Our audience are not out every weekend, they’ve outgrown the clubbing bit, but still want to have a dance and a night out with friends. As demand increased, we outgrew the venues and it was actually our audience who suggested that it would be fun to make this into an annual festival type event.

“The festival isn’t a cheesy retro night, but neither is it ‘too cool for school’ it’s all about having a good time thus the name HAPPY."

She added: “The Showground was perfect’, Tracey continues, “TEM Locations and Events, which manages the Ashley Hall Showground, along with Event Buddha, organised the whole thing brilliantly for us.

“The event was aimed at a 35 plus audience, but families came with older children and in the end the age range was across the board.

“Some people travelled from Wales and Birmingham and it was great for bringing custom to Hale village and Altrincham town centre. The local shops, restaurant and bars were busy as many of our guests visited before the festival to eat and drink.”

Paolo Bistacchi, owner of Danilos Pizzereria in Hale, said: “I wasn’t aware that the festival was happening and was slightly confused when ladies appeared with wellies and flowers in their hair. It drew a great crowd and made for a vibrant atmosphere in the village.”

The owner of Hale Wine Bar, Ashley Brown agreed: “There was a real buzz about the place with all the bars and restaurants busy. Events at the showground are an excellent way of bringing additional visitors to the village and a real bonus for local business.”

The DJs played dance music from the 70s, 80s and 90s with each tent offering different genres from Motown to dance anthems and attracted some famous faces including Mike Joyce, best known for his time as drummer with The Smiths.

Mike, who has also played and DJed at many festivals throughout the years, said: “It was really well organised and we had a ridiculously good time. Events like these bring locals together which is great for the community, with the added bonus of being within walking distance.”

Stephen Black, Hale resident and business owner of French Connection on Ashley Road, thinks it’s a good idea to hold events locally as they mean increased footfall in the village.

“It was very well managed and extremely popular”, he told us. “The friendly atmosphere meant everyone was out enjoying themselves.”

Jonathan Gittins of Rowlands Jewellers, whose shop is also on Ashley Road agreed.

“It was fantastic to see the village embracing the festival; it attracts new people which can only be good for local businesses.”

Ashley resident Richard Rowlands, from I Want Trees said: “I loved it – a great night and everyone seemed to be having a good time!”.

His neighbour, Rob Goodall, also attended the festival with friends and family concurred: “We all had a great night; I hope they run it again as we’d definitely return.”

For more information about the Ashley Hall Showground visit www.tattonestate.com, or follow @AHShowground and @TEMProperty.