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Festivals ’24: Tomorrowland, Parklife, Afro Nation

Tomorrowland, Kendal Calling, Parklife and Afro Nation Portugal are among the latest raft of major festivals to drop their 2024 lineup announcements.

The 20th anniversary of Tomorrowland Belgium will take place in De Schorre over two weekends from 19-21 and 26-28 July. Held under the ‘LIFE’ theme, more than 400 acts including Armin van Buuren, Amelie Lens, Bonobo B2B Dixon, David Guetta, ANNA, Vintage Culture, Tale Of Us, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Solomun B2B Four Tet and Swedish House Mafia will appear across 16 stages.

In addition, Paradise City Festival has confirmed Bonobo, Marlon Hoffstadt, Maribou State and Lola Haro B2B Marcel Dettmann between 28-30 June at Ribaucourt Castle, Perk, Belgium. Organisers are also introducing a a seventh stage, dedicated entirely to chill-out, downtempo and ambient performance.

Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj, Dadju & Tayc and Lisandro Cuxi have been added to Afro Nation Portugal, joining the likes of Rema, Asake, J Hus, Tyla, Ninho, Omah Lay, Major League DJZ, Uncle Waffles and Focalistic on Portimao beach on 28-30 June.

The second wave of names also includes Musa Keys, MFR Souls, Ch’cco, Yumbs,Tango Supreme, Tman Express, Sfarzo Rtee, Nicky Summers and Brooke Bailey.

“We have the perfect ingredients for a fantastically celebratory weekend”

The UK’s Kendal Calling has announced five headliners for its return to Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District from 1-4 August. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Paolo Nutini, The Streets, Paul Heaton with guest singer Rianne Downey, and Keane top the lineup, which will also feature a unique DJ set by The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess and retired footballer Gary Neville.

Sugababes, Declan McKenna, The Reytons, The Snuts, Kate Nash, Pale Waves, Katy B, CMAT, Lottery Winners and Heather Small also join the bill. More than 60% of tickets have already been sold ahead of Monday’s general sale.

“After the week we have had, bring on the summer,” says Kendal Calling co-founder Andy Smith. “It is with much joy and excitement we share with you the biggest Kendal Calling lineup to date. From the incredible Paolo Nutini closing the Sunday night and Keane, Sugababes, Paul Heaton & Rianne Downey and Katy B gracing our fields for the first time, joined by old friends Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds and The Streets closing the Friday and Saturday night respectively, we have the perfect ingredients for a fantastically celebratory weekend.”

Manchester’s Parklife on 8-9 June will star Doja Cat, Disclosure, J Hus, Kaytranada, Becky Hill, Peggy Gou, Four Tet, Anne-Marie, Sugababes, Camelphat and previously announced European exclusive debut of Fisher & Chris Lake present Under Construction.

The Heaton Park event will also feature Digga D, Mahalia, Rudim3ntal, Nia Archives, Hybrid Minds, Patrick Topping, Barry Can’t Swim, Folamour, Dom Dolla, CASISDEAD, Wilkinson, Shy FX: Specials, Interplanetary Criminal, Sammy Virji b2b Interplanetary Criminal, Kenya Grace, ANOTR, PAWSA, TSHA, Girls Don’t Sync, Max Dean, Hedex, Bou, Uncle Waffles, Skream, Jyoty, Loco Dice and Sub Focus, among others. Early bird tickets rapidly sold out after the introduction of a “festival-first” reduction on ticket prices in December 2023.

“We’ve built up such a beautiful community from the people who put the festival together, the artists who perform on our stages and the people who come along”

Truck Festival will be headlined by Jamie T, Wet Leg, The Streets and Idles. Set for Hill Farm, Oxfordshire, other acts will include The Kooks, Declan McKenna, Yard Act, Holly Humberstone, Sea Girls, Black Honey, Peace, The Snuts, Soft Play, The Mysterines, Sundara Karma, English Teacher, The Magic Gang, Willie J Healey and Bob Vylan.

“When we sit down to plan Truck every year, we treat the weekend like the ultimate summer party – complete with friends, amazing moments and the artists we love all in one place,” says head of marketing Sam Harris. “To welcome long-awaited headliners like Jamie T and The Streets to Hill Farm is a true honour, whilst having Wet Leg headline their very first festival with us is going to make for a very special weekend.”

The Vaccines, Future Islands, Lankum Jockstrap, Ash, Caity Baser, CMAT, The Darkness, Waxahatchee, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Ducovony, BC Camplight, Marika Hackman, and Baby Queen are among 25 new music additions to the Latitude bill.
Duran Duran, Kasabian, Keane, London Grammar and Sara Pascoe headline the event in Henham Park, Suffolk from 25-28 July.

Love Saves the Day will return to Bristol’s Ashton Court on 25-26 26 May, headed by CamelPhat, The Streets, Rudimental and Sub Focus present Evolve. Other confirmed names include Girls Don’t Sync, Shy FX: Specials, Wilkinson, Groove Armada, Ben Hemsley, Hedex, Bou, Eliza Rose, Shanti Celeste and Saoirse.

“We are always honoured to kickstart the festival season with Love Saves the Day,” says festival director Tom Paine. “We’ve built up such a beautiful community from the people who put the festival together, the artists who perform on our stages and the people who come along every year for a good time – it’s absolutely amazing, and we can’t wait to be back at Ashton Court for 2024.”

“When we’re thinking about our bookings, the line-up has always been put together with the fans at the core of our decision-making”

Placebo and James Arthur are the latest additions to Bristol Sounds – joining Skindred, The Breeders, Gentleman’s Dub Club and The Skints which runs from 22-30 June. The harbourside concert series has expanded from five days to seven for 2024.

“Bristol Sounds is fundamentally a festival for the people of Bristol, and each year we like to curate a programme that will catch the attention of everyone and anyone,” says promoter Conal Dodds of Crosstown Concerts. “It’s such an eclectic mix of genres and gigs, you’re guaranteed to have a great time. When we’re thinking about our bookings, the line-up has always been put together with the fans at the core of our decision-making, and we can’t wait to watch the crowd’s reactions as their favourite artists take to the most incredible stage in the city.”

Skepta has revealed the full lineup for the inaugural Big Smoke Festival, the new one-day music event heading to Crystal Palace Park on 6 July.

The grime MC has curated two stages personally and will headline the Big Smoke stage with his only UK performance of 2024. He will be joined by The Streets, Mahalia, JME, Lancey, K-Trap, Odumodublvck, The Den featuring Frisco, Flowdan, Sir Spyro, Infamousizak, Manga, Thafirst and a special guest to be announced. The Más Tiempo Stage will see sets from the likes of Loco Dice, Uncle Waffles, Syreeta and Kitty Amor.

And Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in North Wales will feature Bryan Adams, Simple Minds, Paloma Faith, Kaiser Chiefs, Jess Glynne, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Madness, Paloma Faith, Tom Jones, Gregory Porter, Katherine Jenkins and Manic Street Preachers & Suede between 18 June-13 July.

“At long last, we’re thrilled to bring Doja Cat to Roskilde Festival”

Denmark’s Roskilde, set for 29 June-6 July, has unveiled Doja Cat as part of its lineup. The rapper was due to play to play the festival in 2020, prior to the onset of the pandemic.

“At long last, we’re thrilled to bring Doja Cat to Roskilde Festival,” says head of programme Anders Wahrén. “In 2020, she was a star in the making, and in the meantime, she has arguably become the most hyped and popular rapper in the world. The years of waiting to bring her here is finally coming to an end.”

Alongside previously confirmed acts such as Foo Fighters, Kali Uchis, Skrillex, and PJ Harvey, Roskilde has added Ice Spice, J Hus, Jane’s Addiction, Jungle, Khruangbin, Brutalismus 3000, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Lankum, Medina and Nia Archives (UK), to name a few.

Elsewhere in Denmark, Camila Cabello, Janelle Monáe, Beth Hart and MØ have bolstered the Tinderbox bill, which already boasts the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Future Rave aka David Guetta and MORTEN, Bryan Adams, RAYE, Avril Lavigne, Kaizers Orchestra, and James Arthur. Tinderbox takes place in Odense from 27-29 June.

“We’re very excited to be able to present Camila Cabello in Denmark for the first time,” says festival booker Nikoline Skaarup. “She’s been part of shaping the global pop scene of today and bringing new music traditions into pop culture with a string of irresistible releases. Janelle Monáe too has constantly been pushing the limits for popular culture and throughout their career shed light on important cultural and social issues while crafting some of the best music we’ve heard.

“To be able to present these two artists alongside Beth Hart and MØ – who’ve also been and still are voices of their generations – makes it a very rewarding day to be a festival booker.”


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From the Fields’ Andy Smith breaks down ’23 season

From the Fields co-founder and MD Andy Smith has reflected on the mixed fortunes of the UK promoter’s Kendal Calling and Bluedot festivals this summer in a new interview with IQ.

Held in Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District from 27-30 July, the 40,000-cap Kendal Calling sold out for the 17th successive year, headlined by Nile Rodgers & Chic, Kasabian, Blossoms and Royal Blood.

“It’s been a phenomenal year,” Smith tells IQ. “It’s been a hard year, but it’s definitely been worth it.”

The goodwill generated from this year’s festival has helped it break its first-day sales record for the second successive year, with more than 40% of tickets for next year’s edition, set for 1-4 August 2024, snapped up yesterday.

“We’ve got a very eager and passionate audience,” Smith tells IQ. “People love the festival – it’s as simple as that. We’ve got a very strong, loyal audience who come every year and they know that it sells out every year – 17 years in a row – so they just want to know that they have a ticket and then not think about it again until we announce the line-up, at which point they get all excited again. I wish I was that organised!”

In another positive development, the festival saw a greater uptake for its Thursday opening night attractions this year, which helped ease traffic issues over the weekend.

“It’s normally a three-day camping ticket with the addition of a Thursday night for traffic measures, trying to reduce the amount of cars arriving at once,” explains Smith. “With Scouting For Girls and Chic & Nile Rodgers, we had about 60% of the audience coming in early, which resolved the traffic issues, so that was a great success.”

“Every year we seem to have record amounts of rainfall, and this July is no exception with it being 40% above the norm”

The site’s infrastructure also held up well against the expected weather challenges – with the help of some novel tactics from organisers.

“Every year we seem to have record amounts of rainfall, and this July is no exception with it being 40% above the norm,” says Smith. “It normally turns into quite a mud bath, but we managed to avoid that this year despite having our fair share of rain.

“One of the things we did, which we’d never done before, is we didn’t cut the grass,” he continues. “People turned up and thought we were mad because the grass was up to their knees in places, but there was a theory behind it and it was twofold. Firstly, for the immediate enjoyment of the customers – once you’ve had 10,000 people walk across any high land, it isn’t knee-high anymore and you end up with a carpet below you. That meant that, even after 10 hours of rain on Saturday night, the fields were green and they still were 12 hours later.

“Secondly, from a sustainability [perspective], when you mow 2,000 acres of grass, you turn it all into silage, which goes straight to the cows and into the atmosphere as methane, which is no good. But when you trample it into the ground, it stays there. It’s like a carbon sink, so that was very good for our sustainability policies and very good for the environment and for customers.”

From the Fields’ 25,000-cap science and music event Bluedot was not so lucky in its battle against the elements, however. Taking place at Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, between 20-23 July with artists including Pavement, Roisin Murphy, Leftfield and Max Richter. But it was forced to cancel Sunday day tickets due to extreme weather conditions after an “unprecedented amount of rainfall” rendered the day ticket holder car park, pick-up and drop-off point and entrances “impassable”.

“It was a shame we had to refund day ticket holders on the Sunday, but it just wouldn’t have been fair to drag them in and out of the car park”

“That a was a very tricky production,” concedes Smith. “We had more rain there than we’ve ever had before, but we had an audience that was prepared for it: they know to wear cagoules, they know to wear the right shoes and they know to bring some spares. With certain shows, you get audiences who are more or less prepared and Bluedot’s 100% saw it coming.

“When we knew [adverse weather] was inevitable, we got an extra 1,500m of trackway down – I think they got 130 tons of wood chip from our local [supplier] – and a number of other measures that were put out throughout the weekend, which ensured the show could go on. Considering the amount of rain, it was very impressive work by the site crew and by the management to keep it going.

“It was a shame we had to refund day ticket holders on the Sunday, but it just wouldn’t have been fair to drag them in and out of the car park. But for everybody on site, it’s strange – the audience seems to come together a lot more in times of adversity. So whilst one may not have expected it to be so well received, looking at the socials afterwards, it seems to have been one of the best we’ve had yet, if not the best, which is just phenomenal.”

Returning to Kendal Calling’s Leave Nothing But Memories sustainability programme, From the Fields launched new game Flappy Tent to raise awareness of the impact of festival-goers leaving tents behind and commissioned local band The Lancashire Hotpots to write a song about the issue.

“Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, and surveying Kendal Calling site on the Monday morning in 2019 was very depressing,” says Smith. “Then we had the two years off, and then last year pretty much everybody took their tents away. It went from being an uncountable mess down to about 284 tents.

“I was very worried this year, because it rained a lot. But by the initial count, it’s looking like we’ve done the same as last year, which I actually think is really good. Through all these initiatives, I think the message has got through.”

Kendal Calling and Bluedot have been backed by Superstruct Entertainment since 2019 and 2022, respectively.

“We’ve got support where we need it,” adds Smith. “We’ve always had great team but there’s that extra level that’s very refreshing, especially when you’re days into a festival and it’s quite tiring. It’s great to have somebody on the end of the phone who’s got a fresh mind and fresh pair of eyes. Nothing’s changed unless it’s been needed and we find their level of support so refreshing. It’s a wonderful partnership.”


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10,000 enjoy moshing without masks at Download Pilot

The organisers of Download Pilot – the UK’s first major camping festival of its kind since lockdown – are hailing it a resounding success and are confident that the test will encourage government to green-light other summer events.

The specially created three-day festival took place over the 18–20 June weekend as part of the second phase of the UK government’s scientific Events Research Programme (ERP). The Download Pilot involved 10,000 metal fans welcomed to the hallowed grounds of rock in Donington Park to enjoy a fully-fledged festival experience with no social distancing, no masks and moshing allowed.

All attendees were required to take both a PCR and lateral-flow test prior to the event, sharing details with the NHS contact-tracing system. Attendees had to show proof of a negative result to enter the festival gates and have committed to submitting a second PCR test five days post-event to help scientists monitor any Covid-19 infection activity.

Headlined by Enter Shikari, Bullet for My Valentine and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, 40 acts in total from the UK’s world-leading rock scene waived their fees, united by the prospect of moving the live events industry forward and playing in front of an audience for the first time in over a year.

As the last of the fans left the venue today, promoter Festival Republic dismissed any notion that live events are not possible while the Covid-19 pandemic continues. “[This] is 100% evidence that this is not true,” stated managing director Melvyn Benn. “This is a very clear demonstration that you can do it.”

“This is a very clear demonstration that you can do it”

He continued, “It’s really fantastic. I am very heart-warmed by it all. The level of compliance around the testing and requirements we have is absolutely extraordinary. It is coupled with a level of normality that is equally extraordinary when you have been out of it for so long.”

Benn believes the data gathered through the festival will prove similar events can take place this summer. “In fairness, the [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] are on board with the message which is that these things can happen and they can happen safely,” he told reporters.

“What we want from Download is data that scientists can analyse that will effectively reinforce that position, and that data is being gathered and I am certain it will do just that.”

Indeed, another Festival Republic gathering, Latitude, has confirmed it will go ahead for its 22–25 July event, while it’s expected that the Reading and Leeds festivals in August will also proceed as planned.

Benn added that following talks with the DCMS in recent days, he felt “sufficiently encouraged” to push ahead with Latitude and he suggested the UK government is finalising plans to launch a limited coronavirus insurance scheme that will allow other festivals to push ahead with their 2021 editions.

“There is no guarantee, but I believe the government will come forward with a limited government-backed insurance scheme,” he commented. “It wouldn’t be everything that we want, by any means, but it would certainly be enough to encourage us to all get going again.”

“We urge the government to reappraise its approach and to listen to the recommendations of its own reports”

However, while that optimism will buoy the UK business, any government backing has come too late for Kendal Calling festival, which today criticised the government for delaying the publication of ERP report, as it outlined the decision to shelve its festival for the second year running.

“Without this safety guidance, there are numerous aspects of the festival we cannot plan, and which could lay us wide open to last minute unforeseen regulations or requirements which could scupper an already built festival,” reads a statement on the Kendal Calling website. “Capacity or density restrictions, track and trace protocol, testing regime, Covid certification – a host of unknown actions required, yet potentially requested too late to be implemented.

“Our understanding is that the DCMS are keen to publish the ERP findings and guidance, but that it now does not fit around [the British government’s] communications plan. This is insulting to our entire industry, who have been awaiting the results of a pilot event that took place almost two months ago to inform our approach to staging events safely this summer.

“This has been a frankly devastating 16 months for our industry. If calls for a government-backed insurance scheme had been heeded – as recommended by the DCMS, emulating successful schemes now up and running in other countries – we could have potentially continued to plan and invest in the coming weeks. We take this opportunity to urge the government to reappraise its approach and to listen to the recommendations of its own reports, as the continued lack of leadership hampers the recovery of our live event industry.”

Meanwhile, the iconic Notting Hill Carnival will also not go ahead in 2021, it has been confirmed, for similar pandemic concerns.


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From the Fields launches partnerships division

From the Fields, the UK festival promoter behind popular summer events Kendal Calling and Bluedot, has hired Chris McCormick to oversee a new brand partnerships division.

McCormick joins Manchester-based From the Fields from Bluepeg/Star Live, where he was commercial director, working with brands including the Mercury Prize, Heineken and Amazon Music. As partnerships director, he will oversee partnerships for both festivals, as well as working with external clients.

Co-op is the newest client for From the Fields Partnerships, with the retail group planning to bring its pop-up festival food and drink store to Kendal Calling (25,000-cap.) from July 2021.

Ben Robinson, From the Fields’ managing director, comments: “The addition of Chris to our team marks an exciting new era for From the Fields, allowing us to service a wider range of clients with a full complement of services from online and offline sponsorship delivery, activations, curation, marketing and production.

“Now, more than ever, brands expect a joined-up approach, and thanks to our portfolio of award-winning major events and our highly-respected team, From the Fields is now uniquely positioned to deliver incredible campaigns.”

“From the Fields is uniquely positioned to deliver incredible campaigns”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining From the Fields,” adds McCormick. I’ve worked with Andy [Robinson, co-founder], Ben and the team for over a decade as clients to my own businesses, and their creative and entrepreneurial spirit has always impressed me. Having the chance to join the dots of our combined skills and experience was an opportunity not to be missed.

“I’ll be steering the partnership strategy for Kendal Calling and Bluedot, as well as working with external clients. We will also be harnessing our creative, marketing and production expertise to deliver experiential and strategy for brands within music, entertainment and live events.”

In addition to launching From the Fields Partnerships, the company has announced a new addition to its event roster in the form of Manchester Food and Drink Festival.

From the Fields’ core festivals, Kendal Calling and Bluedot (21,00-cap.), will return in July 2021, with Björk, Groove Armada and Metronomy having already been announced as Bluedot 2021 headliners.

Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea, curated by From the Fields, will go ahead this month in a Covid-secure format.


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Ground Control’s Jon Drape launches Engine No. 4

Event production veteran Jon Drape has launched Engine No.4, a new production company headquartered in Manchester, UK, as he retires the Ground Control brand.

The new company counts Parklife, Snowbombing Austria, Bluedot, Kendal Calling, Lost Village, Depot at Mayfield and the Warehouse Project among its clients.

Drape, former MD of Ground Control Productions, director at Broadwick Live and founder of Festival Safe, forms part of a core team of equal partners with Tommy Sheals-Barrett (Back On Your Heads Ltd), Jim Gee (N4 Productions) and Will McHugh (CC Events).

The decision to create Engine No.4 follows the withdrawal of Broadwick Live and Ground Control parent company, Global, from the festival space earlier this year.

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control,” comments Drape. “We came to realise that a more streamlined business was the only sustainable option.

“With a desire to focus on quality events and festivals, I thought the best move forwards would be to form a new partnership of four equal shareholders and directors together, covering all elements of the industry and able to deliver more bespoke and considered solutions.”

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control”

With over 30 years’ experience in the live industry, Drape managed production at legendary Manchester venue the Hacienda, later founding Ground Control in 2013. Drape is a patron for music charity Attitude is Everything and drug safety testing group the Loop.

Sheals-Barrett takes on the role of head of technical production, with 25 years’ experience managing production for Festival No. 6, Bluedot and Parklife.

Kendal Calling and Parklife operations director McHugh will handle the sponsorship side of the business, building on existing relationships with clients such as EE, Lynx, Nintendo and Carling.

Gee, whose recent projects include reopening Manchester’s 10,000-capacity Depot at Mayfield, will serve as the director and head of site management.

“We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved so far at the Depot,” says Gee. “Our remit was to transition the Warehouse Project from Store Street without losing the spirit and the vibe in a much larger venue. Somewhat of a challenge but something we have delivered.”

Operating from September 2019, Engine No.4 has new projects lined up to add to its existing client base.

International event production professionals will be gathering at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.


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Rain fails to dampen spirits at From the Fields fests

Extreme weather tested Manchester, UK-based promoter From the Fields at Kendal Calling and Bluedot festivals this year, but did little to detract from the events’ best ticket sales to date.

Bluedot and Kendal Calling, From the Field’s biggest events, took place on two consecutive weekends from 18 to 21 and 25 to 28 July.

Both festivals were an “absolute success”, From the Fields co-director and Bluedot festival director Ben Robinson tells IQ. Bluedot, now in its fourth year, sold out in advance with a 30% increase in capacity.

“I think we’ve reached our happy size there at 16,000,” says Robinson, stating “we have no ambition to increase further.”

The longer-running, larger Kendal Calling also saw record sales, shifting 30,000 tickets and maintaining a capacity crowd throughout the weekend, despite “a lot of extreme weather”.

“Every stage went ahead as planned and the festival opened on time every day,” explains Robinson, commending the site crew on their efforts “against the elements”.

Taking place each year at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the gigantic Lovell Telescope, the fourth outing was a special one for Bluedot, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing.

“[The moon bounce] was the most unique thing I’ve ever seen at a festival and something you’d only find at Bluedot”

Audio clips recorded by headliners Kraftwerk, New Order and Hot Chip were used in a moon bounce, a radio communications technique that reflects waves from the moon back to an Earth-based receiver.

Robinson says the Bluedot moon bounce was “the most unique thing I’ve ever seen at a festival and something you’d only find at Bluedot”, which fuses music, science and technology.

The festival received a one-off license extension to 5 a.m. on the Saturday, allowing organisers to projection map onto the telescope and broadcast radio clips in real time with the original moon landing fifty years before.

According to Robinson, the “niche electronic programming” and music/ science combination – scientific speakers such as astronaut Helen Sharman and wildlife documentary presenter and biologist Liz Bonnin shared the main stage along with musical acts – attracts a “more specific audience” than Kendal Calling.

“Kendal Calling really feels like a broad cross section of the northwest of the UK,” says the From the Fields co-director. “There’s something for everyone.”

Orbital, Nile Rodgers and Chic, Manic Street Preachers, Doves, Courteeners and Tom Jones were among those playing the main stage over the weekend at Kendal Calling. Bristol punk rock band Idles were joined on stage by rapper Slowthai in a “truly unique” collaboration.

“There’s a real sense of community at both Bluedot and Kendal, and that makes people feel safe”

Despite their differences, both festivals provide a family-friendly environment, which Robinson puts down to “robust back of house services” and “good security and stewarding”.

“There’s a real sense of community at both Bluedot and Kendal, and that makes people feel safe,” says Robinson.

Both festivals have “landmark” years coming up in 2020, with Bluedot’s fifth anniversary and Kendal Calling’s 15th edition.

If this year’s Bluedot was about looking backwards at an iconic historical moment, says Robinson, next year’s festival will be a lot more future-facing. “The collaboration between music, science and tech gives ample opportunity to keep things fresh, as there are always new and exciting elements within those areas.”

Robinson describes the longevity of Kendal Calling as a “really bold achievement for us”, as the promoter confirms plans to continue the festival for the next ten years at least. Following “quite a muddy year”, the From the Fields co-director believes it is the right time to take a step back and look at “refreshing the site and design” in time for the festival’s anniversary.

Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are already available, with weekend camping priced at £168.75. Tickets for next year’s Kendal Calling go on sale on Friday at 10 am GMT.


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Extinction Rebellion joins forces with Kendal Calling

Independent UK festival Kendal Calling has announced a unique collaboration with anti-climate change, civil disobedience campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR).

The socio-political group has been staging protests in London since 15 April and met with British environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday (30 April).

The group will commandeer an area at the festival to raise awareness around climate change and species extinction, hosting in-depth talks, workshops, film screenings and yoga sessions.

Founded in 2006, this year’s Kendal Calling (25,000-capacity) will take place from 25 to 28 July in Lowther Deer park in the Lake District, a Unesco world heritage site. The theme for this year’s festival, Kendal Calling Goes Jurassic, ties into XR’s anti-extinction protest.

“We’re very happy that we had such a good turn out from our supporters in London and beyond, and connected with new rebels who created a wonderful friendly atmosphere,” says XR spokesperson Oli Nichols.

“To take our global message to a festival like Kendal Calling is a further extension of how we like to conduct ourselves, with good spirit, determination, and good intentions”

“To take our global message to a festival like Kendal Calling is a further extension of how we like to conduct ourselves, with good spirit, determination, and good intentions.

“Although we created disruption, the XR actions sparked imagination and further action around the climate emergency and all done with festival vibes, focused around positivity and hope, on all sites,” says Nichols.

The group hopes to make “deep and long-lasting connections” at the festival

In addition to the XR area, Kendal Calling’s programming includes art installations, comedy, cabaret, cinema and children’s activities.

The festival sees headline performances from disco group Nile Rodgers and Chic, as well as Manchester-based indie groups Doves and Courteeners. Miles Kane, the Pigeon Detectives, Idles and Manic Street Preachers are also among those on the bill.

Kendal Calling won the marketing campaign of the year award at the 2018 UK Festival Awards, following its 2016 best medium festival win.

Tickets for Kendal Calling can be found here.


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The show must go on…

In Bohemian Rhapsody, the recent Queen biopic, we see Live Aid broadcast to 1.9 billion people. A moment in music history where the combined forces of music and events came together to try to change the world.

Fast-forward 30 years, and the power of music and events to bring people together and change their perspectives remains, and is at the heart of Energy Revolution, a charity set up by a collection of industry professionals with first-hand knowledge of running large-scale events in rural locations.

It started in 2015, when industry think tank Powerful Thinking laid out the environmental impacts of the UK festival industry and presented them at the COP21 climate change talks in Paris. The report was called the Show Must Go On (also, incidentally, the final track on Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo) and was a festival industry response to climate change, the current global issue facing the planet, and one that we all need to address in our lifetimes. The report showed that up to 80% of the average festival’s carbon footprint came from audience travel, which is where Energy Revolution’s mission was born.

There is no quick fix to the problem of climate change. Positive change must come from both practical action and perceptual shifts. Earlier this year, a single episode of the BBC’s Blue Planet caused a shift in perception so drastic that social media feeds are still brimming with ways to avoid single-use plastic. What an epic sign that change can come quickly when the message is clear and powerful.

Energy Revolution works with over 40 UK festivals, their audiences, suppliers, and artists, to help them understand the practical impacts of their travel choices. We help event organisers engage audiences and encourage them to consider more sustainable travel methods – and people are more engaged than ever.

In the words of Freddie, “the show must go on” – and for that to happen, we need to have a healthy planet for the show to be on

But let’s be honest: most festivals happen in fields or remote locations, and there is little chance that touring headline artists will fit their show production into the boot of a Tesla. In accepting this reality, Energy Revolution calculates impacts from travel by measuring and recording fossil fuel miles, calculating the associated CO2, and then balancing unavoidable emissions via donations that we then invest in projects that create clean renewable energy.

One hundred percent of all donations go to the projects, which have so far included reforestation, wind turbines, and community-owned solar and wind projects. So far, Energy Revolution has balanced over 7.8 million average car miles, that’s the equivalent of 2.5 million kg CO2e. It’s a bold start, but the real power in the project is the framework we’ve created that means all events, venues, gig-goers, crew, and artists can educate themselves on the true impacts of travel emissions, and actively balance that impact in a direct, practical and positive way.

Times change: Bohemian Rhapsody shows Bob Geldof expressing the plight of the African continent and rallying for £1 million (£2.2m in today’s climate). That’s around what one artist of equivalent stature might get for a single show today, and in the region of what Glastonbury donates each year to charity. Charity is also at a point where the perception change required is one that drops ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas?’ from its vocabulary, and instead empowers the communities they help.

Today, the greatest threat to humanity is climate change. We need to utilise the power of music and events to change perceptions and encourage practical action. We have reach through our audiences. Just as our industry has developed standards in health and safety, disability access and hearing protection, we also need to have sustainability on the tips of our tongues.

Kendal Calling, Boomtown, Download, Reading, Shambala, Bluedot are already on board, and I implore anyone reading this to get on-board, too, and to help spread the word. In the words of Freddie, “the show must go on” – and for that to happen, we need to have a healthy planet for the show to be on.


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Support for festival drug testing grows in UK

Respected UK charity the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has called for drug-testing facilities, such as those trialled at Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party last summer, to be made standard at all music festivals “where drug use is common”.

In a new report, Drug safety testing at festivals and night clubs, released this morning, RSPH says the move, “which is backed by 95% of festival-goers, [would] help minimise the risk of serious health harm as a result of recreational drug use”.

Secret Garden Party became last July became the first British festival to give attendees the chance to test the content of their drugs without fear of recrimination, with Kendal Calling following a week later. Jon Drape, whose Ground Control Productions company works with Kendal Calling, told IQ at the time drug testing is a “no-brainer”, adding around a quarter of those who tested their drugs opted to bin them after discovering their content.

RSPH’s own data suggests a similar figure of almost one in five (18%).

Drug testing at both festivals was undertaken in partnership with nonprofit The Loop, which will also introduce the testing – officially ‘multi-agency safety testing’ (MAST) – at several Festival Republic events this summer, including Reading and Leeds.

“If drug users can be reasonably sure of what they are actually taking, they will be better placed to make informed decisions about if and how to take these substances”

MAST, or a local variant thereof, is already commonplace in continental Europe, including the Netherlands, Austria and Spain. Efforts to introduce drug testing in Australia have been frustrated by local government and police, with festival promoters in New South Wales told they could face prosecution for drug supply.

According to RSPH, the need for pill testing at festivals has become more acute with the rise in strength of the average ecstasy pill. As reported by IQ last May, MDMA use is on the rise across Europe, with a simultaneous increase in the availability of high-MDMA pills and powdered and crystal forms of the drug.

“Given that a large degree of health harm associated with ‘club drugs’ stems from user ignorance of the exact strength and content of pills and powders of uncertain provenance, any measures that increase our knowledge base can be expected to have a positive effect on reducing harm – especially if the provision of such information creates an opportunity to impart information on safer behaviours and risk reduction to the key target population,” reads the RSPH report.

“If drug users can be reasonably sure of what they are actually taking, then they will be better placed to make informed decisions about if and how to take these substances, and so are less likely to have an adverse reaction or overdose as a result.”

MAST, therefore, says RSPH, is a “pragmatic harm reduction measure” which should “become a standard feature of places where drug use is prevalent, such as city-centre nightlife areas and festivals.”


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‘First virtual festival’ Kendal Calling sells out

Independent UK festival Kendal Calling, returning for its 12th outing in the last weekend of July, is celebrating its fastest-ever sell-out after having sold all 25,000 tickets in just over a week.

Festival co-founder Ben Robinson says: “The team are truly humbled by the reaction to this year’s line-up, and we’d like to thank everyone who has bought tickets to make this our 12th successive sell-out. We’ll be keeping our heads down over the next six months, working hard to make this the best festival possible.”

The 2017 event has a six-headliner bill featuring Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Franz Ferdinand, Brian Wilson (performing Pet Sounds), Tinie Tempah and Frank Turner, with Editors, Slaves, The Coral and Jake Bugg also confirmed to be performing.

“We are truly humbled by the reaction to this year’s line-up”

Kendall Calling, held in Lowther Deer Park, in the Lake District, has also announced it is the “first festival to go virtual” in Google Maps.

The web mapping platform, known primarily for its street maps and route-planning service (and for capturing Liam Gallagher drinking in Camden), has captured the entire festival grounds, “allowing festival fans who missed out on tickets to take a simulated walk around the site”.

Take a stroll around Kendal Calling 2016 by visiting www.kendalcalling.co.uk/virtual-tour.


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