5 Northern Music Festivals Not To Miss This Summer

By June 24, 2015


[Pictured above: Bingley Festival]


The loss of Skipton’s beloved Beacons Festival leaves a big hole in this year’s festival circuit. Having attended the previous two renewals, I can safely say the organisers had got the balance right with regard to the numbers attending, reassuringly low idiot count, brilliantly varied line-ups, and picture-postcard Yorkshire Dales location – not to mention a pretty decent selection of refreshments. But for a bit more luck with the weather (the 2011 Beacons was washed out and last year’s closing day experienced some disruption thanks to Hurricane Bertha), we may still have been looking forward to a weekend of Airedale rock and roll excess. Oh well; it was great while it lasted.

Nevertheless, that’s left myself plus a decent chunk of Yorkshire’s other would-be festival goers scratching our heads wondering where we will get our fix in 2015. Below are a handful of possible alternatives, although three are on the same weekend so some difficult decisions will have to be made.

Tramlines Festival – Sheffield – 24/25/26 July
[Image courtesy of Jason Broadhurst]
Those who have attended Live@Leeds know what a brilliant success it has become in the near-decade it has been going. Get a bunch of the city centre’s best music venues in the same way that festivals now boast several stages, then spend the day dipping in and out of each one depending on what band you fancy watching. Sheffield soon cottoned on and launched Tramlines in 2009, initially as a free festival. However, with success there comes a price, and tickets now cost somewhere in the region of £30 for the Full Monty – still a bargain for a three-day ticket compared to most; Glasto starts at north of £200 these days.

Tramlines is spread out across Sheffield’s main music hotspots including Leadmill, University and Academy plus an 8,000 capacity open air stage in Devonshire Green. Expect 30,000+ to attend over the weekend as this year’s incarnation includes Manchester darlings The Charlatans and The Buzzcocks, dance legends Basement Jaxx, plus the Big Apple’s badass rappers Wu-Tang Clan, eager to follow in the footsteps of Public Enemy who thrilled a packed Tramlines main stage last time.

Underneath The Stars Festival – Barnsley – 24/25/26 July
[Image courtesy of Underneath The Stars Festival]
If you fancy swapping the Steel-City urban jungle for something more rural instead, half an hour’s drive north will take you to Cannon Hall Farm, who’ve teamed up with local star Kate Rusby, between them putting on 3 days of music and arts. Naturally with Ms Rusby calling the shots and also performing, the remainder of the line-up features a combination of local bands such as the superb Hope And Social and equally fine CryBabyCry, plus a smattering of her folk peers including Mary Chapin Carpenter and Kentish roots quartet Keston Cobblers Club.

As the festival audience has aged, the trend has been to make them more family friendly. UTS is no exception, boasting a broad selection of activities for the little ones. Day tickets start from as little as £40 and family tickets are also available (£310 for 2 adults and 2 children for the weekend although 6-and-unders go free which is quite generous considering kids of 5 and up have to pay to go on public transport).

Deer Shed Festival – Topcliffe, North Yorkshire – 24/25/26 July
[Image courtesy of festivalsforall.com]
This will be the 6th iteration of Deer Shed, a festival that continues to go from strength to strength, carving its own niche as a perhaps more upmarket event aimed squarely at those considering returning to the festival scene, this time with children in tow.

As with Underneath The Stars, Deer Shed’s music offering has been augmented by a host of other events including arts, and family workshops; there’s even a science tent for the budding geek.

Once Darcy and Noah have been safely installed at the 3D Plane Modelling class, one can turn one’s attention to the music on offer as Billy Bragg, John Grant and The Unthanks make up the main draw. As with all festivals, digging a little deeper should result in you discovering some other hidden treasures and here is no exception as The Wedding Present, Menace Beach and Rozi Plain are the pick of a pretty decent undercard. If you decide to stay on the Sunday evening (at an optional extra cost, no flies on the organizers here) then you’ll be able to groove the final hours of the weekend away to Andy Kershaw’s Global Dance Night and rediscover your inner Earth Mother before returning to the rat race a new person.

Leeds Festival – Bramham Park (Near Wetherby) – 28/29/30 August
[Image courtesy of Drowned in Sound]

The biggest and baddest of the lot is still going strong at the seventeenth time of asking, not forgetting there aren’t many better ways to celebrate the final Bank Holiday weekend of the summer. The move to Bramham Park certainly made sense as it’s a lovely place, and with a shuttle bus service laid on from Leeds main rail station, getting there is surprisingly easy.

With the main stage featuring the usual guitar bands – this time broken up into Indie (Libertines), Folk Rock (Mumford) and Metal (Metallica) for the 3 headline acts – you can also choose from a handful of other stages meaning there is usually always something worth watching somewhere.
Day tickets are just over £60 with the whole shebang just over £200. There are also a selection of camping/glamping options for those feeling flush who can’t be arsed to pitch a tent – always handy when arriving somewhere to camp and it’s chucking it down.

Bingley Festival – Myrtle Park – 4/5/6 September

This is yet another event that started life as a freebie then grew in stature over the recent past, though despite its growth year-on-year still managing to keep weekend tickets around the £50 mark. This pleasant park on the banks of the River Aire is only a stone’s throw from the local rail station so getting there is a doddle – ideal for 16,000 souls seeking to wring the last drop out of summer, just before the nights really start to lengthen again.

Historically the bulk of acts appearing here fell into the local and unsigned category, leaving all but a few bigger names to pull in the crowds. Perhaps benefiting from the loss of nearby Beacons Festival, the BML organizers have really pushed the boat out this year, having secured the services of a host of indie legends including Ash, Super Furry Animals, Cast, Embrace, James, Carl Barat and Peter Hook. To balance things out you will also have the chance to catch plenty of hot new talent such as Labrinth, Rae Morris and Ella Eyre. Onwards and upwards.

Michael Price