Plenty of highlights but room for improvement at Sheffield’s Tramlines festival

Fans at the Main Stage in Sheffield, United Kingdom on 25 July 2015. Photo by Glenn Ashley.
Fans at the Main Stage in Sheffield, United Kingdom on 25 July 2015. Photo by Glenn Ashley.
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Sheffield’s Tramlines festival drew some of its biggest crowds ever - but this year’s event was something of a rollercoaster ride for organisers.

Perfect sunny weather and the popularity of headliner Basement Jaxx meant the new main stage on the Ponderosa park in Upperthorpe hit capacity on Saturday, and ticket sales were slightly up on last year, with more than 23,000 passes sold in total.

Festival director Sarah Nulty said it was a successful year overall, but accepted there were some ‘teething issues’ as Tramlines sought to expand.

Rain on Friday and Sunday - and hip-hop act the Wu-Tang Clan pulling out at the last minute - put a slight dampener on proceedings.

“We had a few teething issues with being on the new site, and I think there’s a lot we can learn for next year. It was a shame about the rain on Sunday, but we feel it was successful,” said Sarah.

“I think there were some issues with queues, and the toilets and the bar. I think we need to look at the facilities we provide. Legally we had enough toilets – we went on guidance – but practically we probably didn’t have enough.”

She added: “Saturday was really busy, but on Friday and Sunday we didn’t quite hit the numbers we were expecting.”

Huge queues also formed outside The Leadmill to see Billy Bragg on the final night of the festival.

“Even the Leadmill was surprised at the level of queuing,” said Sarah.

“We’re looking at whether we change the way we ticket different events. It’s hard because there are certain venues where the queue was around the block. Perhaps Billy Bragg should have been on the main stage rather than in the Leadmill, but with city centre festivals you do end up with some events being more popular than others.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do with encouraging people to move around the city.”

There were plenty of highlights, however.

“I loved the Ponderosa as a site,” Sarah said.

“There was more room and we can really develop it - as a space it was brilliant. I also absolutely loved Basement Jaxx. That kind of dance headliner on a Saturday is really good.

“And Mobb Deep and De La Soul, considering it was pouring down with rain, it was such good fun, and the fact they stepped in at the last minute and still had so many people turn up was great.

“Although we’ve been going for seven years, we’re constantly learning. Though we don’t want to make mistakes, inevitably we will on the way, but we’ll always try to put them right.”

The Wu-Tang Clan have still not offered ‘any reason at all’ for cancelling their appearance, she revealed.

“The information we got from the management was that they cancelled the rest of the tour. It’s a shame really. I don’t really think they feel like they have to give a reason, but if it was the other way round we’d probably have to!

“It’s never happened to us before... but at least it shows if it does we can deal with it.”

l Early-bird tickets are now on sale for next year’s festival.