A Heavenly Alliance

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn, WOMAD co-founder and former artistic director Thomas Brooman and the Reading Borough Council have teamed to create a new U.K. festival called Heavenly Planet.

It will launch July 10-11 and take place at a 15,000-capacity site by the River Thames at Reading Rivermead, where Benn stages Festival Republic’s 80,000-capacity Reading Festival. It’s also where Brooman, who was awarded the CBE for services to music and charity in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List, staged WOMAD for 17 years.

“For two years now, the council and I have been discussing the idea of a new, innovative, diverse and outward-looking festival,” Benn said. “Thomas brings everything we were looking for to the table and the partnership is now complete.”

Benn said the new festival, which will come four years after he launched his hugely successful Latitude Festival in Suffolk, will have a concept of “music, optimism and positivism,” aimed mainly at families and younger festivalgoers.

The Rivermead Leisure Centre, which has an autumn concert season that includes Kaiser Chiefs, The Hoosiers, The Pigeon Detectives and The Fratellis, will also be incorporated in the site as insurance against bad weather.

Both Benn and Brooman experienced unfavorable weather in 2007.

Having moved from Rivermead, the 25th anniversary of WOMAD quickly turned its new site at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, into a quagmire after a couple of hours of heavy rain.

At Rivermead, with only a month to go before the opening of Reading Festival, Benn’s crew, the local council and the Environment Agency worked to clean up the site, parts of which were under two feet of water.