Published on March 5th, 2020 by gavin

Butlins Overhaul Sees Own Choice & Entertainments Programmes Introduced

The organisers of the Butlin’s Open Brass Band Festival have announced wide-ranging changes to the format of the 2021 event, which will take place at Butlin’s Resort in Skegness from 8-11 January.

With all competing bands previously performing set test-pieces, only bands in the Championship Section will now be set a compulsory test, with those in sections 1-3 playing works of their own choice. Bands in the 4th Section will now play 20-minute own-choice programmes with no restriction on content, to be assessed by open judges.

The Championship Section contest will retain its current format, with the 2021 test-piece being announced as the ever-popular Paganini Variations by Phillip Wilby, which was first used as a test-piece at the 1991 British Open Championship. As an added bonus, the winner of the Most Entertaining Band prize in the Sunday entertainment contest will now receive an invitation to the Brass in Concert Championship at Sage Gateshead the following November. The overall top prize will remain at £10,000, the biggest on offer for any brass band event worldwide.

Entries are now open for the 2021 Festival and those entering before 30 April will receive a £25 discount on the £100 fee. Through the Butlins’ partnership with Brass Bands England, member organisations of BBE will receive a further £25 discount on their entry fee, meaning that bands can now take part in the most sociable event on the calendar for as little as £50! To book your accommodation please go directly to

Speaking about the changes to the Butlin’s Open Brass Band Festival, the event’s Director, Steve Walker, told A4B: “It is important for the organisers of any major event to reflect on its format and how it affects the wider aims of the participants. Having consulted with a variety of stakeholders, we are confident that our new format will make it easier for bands to attend in future years. We are aware that some find the early January date difficult, especially with the restrictions it can make on rehearsal time, but the introduction of own-choice tests in sections 1-3, and what we are sure will be entertaining programmes in the 4th Section, will make it easier for bands to include their Butlin’s music in their activities during the previous months. By opening up the judging of the 4th Section we also hope to be able to provide a more relaxed environment for the bands at this level and provide feedback tailored to the nature of the performers, some of whom may be giving their first contest performances.”

Steve Walker continued: “We would like to thank our friends at Brass in Concert for their future ongoing invitation to our most entertaining band, which we hope will encourage our Championship Section bands to push boundaries in terms of entertainment. We would like to encourage groups at all levels, and from all corners of the world of brass bands, to join us in Skegness next January. With over 4,000 visitors on site during the weekend they can all be assured of a vibrant and friendly atmosphere, while the musical changes we have made are guaranteed to provide fantastic variety for the listener. Add in terrific entertainment sets from our leading bands on the Sunday, the most generous prize fund in all of banding and some breathtaking playing from our guest evening performers, all presented by the one and only Frank Renton, and you have the perfect recipe for an exceptional banding weekend!”

Bands can enter the 2021 Butlin’s Open Brass Band Festival by visiting
Accommodation packages can be booked at

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