Preston City Centre is officially still the best place to go for a night out in Lancashire after it was awarded a Purple Flag for the fifth year in a row.
The award – similar to the Blue Flags for beaches and Green Flags for parks – recognises areas that provide a safe, vibrant and inclusive night time experience and has only been given to two other areas in the North West.
The Purple Flag was first brought to the city by the Preston City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) in 2011, and the BID team has successfully gone through the rigorous assessment process each year since then.
Awarding the Purple Flag, judges said Preston had ‘a strong Purple Flag programme demonstrating good practice, development and management of the evening and night-time economy (ENTE)’ and ‘a particularly great media presence for the city centre ENTE and activities focusing on keeping the Purple Flag profile in the limelight’.
BID manager Mark Whittle said: “At a time when some of our neighbouring boroughs are experiencing an unfortunate period of decline and closures, Preston has encountered a significant profile-raising with four new venues opening in the past 12 months alone.
“There has been a surge in positivity around the city’s evening and night time economy and the general atmosphere is great.
“And it isn’t just about alcohol, Preston offers the whole package so there really is something for everyone. They will be welcomed, safe and looked after.”
The rigorous application process includes the submission of a formal application which evidences the offering within a town or city applying for Purple Flag and is followed up by a formal assessment from industry experts, including senior police officials.
BID organisers highlighted the city’s thriving early evening and late-night economy, which is boosted by a wide variety of nightclubs and bars and laid-back cocktail lounges.
The city centre also has a lively and accessible entertainment scene and is home to two comedy clubs, the Guild Hall and a number of smaller independent entertainment venues.
Some of the biggest national acts have performed in recent times in Preston, including Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, John Bishop and Jake Bugg and there will soon be a glittering array of soul legends at David Gest’s show at the Guild Hall and a home-coming show from Andrew Flintoff.
And BID also points out people are never short of a place to dine in the city centre, with a variety of independent restaurants and grills sitting side-by-side with nationally recognisable chains offering a plethora of international cuisines.
The city’s leisure sector is now stronger than ever, with continual independent and national chain investment.
Mr Whittle said: “We are officially the proudest place to live in England, according to the property website RightMove.
“This was backed up when almost 100,000 votes were submitted to our recent ‘Preston, It Smiles Better – The Awards’ celebrating the city’s nightlife and retail offering.
“Why not pay us a visit and find out for yourself?”