ROTHERHAM’S Real Ale and Music Festival turns 21 today.
And the festival, the largest of its kind in the North, is celebrating with a packed calendar of events, saluting two of the region’s favourite things - music and beer.
More than 11,000 people are expected to visit the festival in the next four days, to try more than 250 real ales and 100 wines, ciders and lagers from around the world.
Rotherham motorbike champion James Toseland was on hand at yesterday’s launch to make sure the festival got off to a screeching start ahead of today’s public opening.
“I do like real ale, as opposed to lager, so this was a great invitation for me,” said the 32-year-old.
“I’ve been having a great time tasting all the different ales! Everybody keeps giving me cups to try so if they’re not careful I’m not going to be much use later on!
“I’m not much of a drinker which I think is good because, with all these experts here, I’m literally going on what tastes nice. It’s a fantastic event.”
This year’s festival, named Baa’sil Goes West in a nod to guest beers from Lancashire and Cheshire, will include musical performances – classic rock, brass bands, acoustic, rock ’n’ roll, reggae and jazz. The large South Yorkshire stage, which would not look out of place at a rock festival, will host a string of tribute bands including headliners Bon Giovi and The Stones, and goes back in time tomorrow night for a 1960s spectacular.
Festival music coordinator John Hyslop said: “This year is the most comprehensive music line-up we have ever featured and it promises to offer something for everyone, from young and promising unsigned bands through to a few firm festival favourites.
“It’s taken nearly a year to put the line-up together and we’ve been scouring the local music scene for interesting and usual acts. We’ve also had requests to play from groups as far away as Sweden, the USA and South America.”
Festival organiser Stephen Burns said: “The music side to our festival often gets overlooked and the impressive line-up of bands and entertainment we’ve got is something that truly sets Rotherham apart.
“We will be recording all the bands performing at the festival and are planning to publish a short daily video.”
For the first time, the public will be able to track entertainment, preview the beers, rate their favourites and keep track of what they’ve tried on their mobiles via the Festival App.
“It’s completely free, and features an interactive map of the festival and all the latest news,” said Stephen.
Baa’sil Goes West opens today at the Magna Centre and runs until Saturday. Buy tickets at Magna Real Ale
A special bus will operate between Rotherham town centre and Meadowhall with return tickets priced £2.