Decade of Tramlines bringing stars to Sheffield

It is over a decade since the first Tramlines Festival took place in 2009. Even in its first two years, the then-free festival attracted a raft of big name performers, and crowds of fans ensured its success for the future by visiting in their thousands to hear the bands.

Monday, 8th July 2019, 08:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 12:14 pm
Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen performing at Tramlines

Now an established annual music event that attracts people from South Yorkshire and from across the country, it originally began right in the heart of Sheffield’s city centre.

Its first big move came in 2015 when the festival doubled its main stage capacity by shifting from its original Devonshire Green spot to Ponderosa Park.

Local indie band Paperdots launch the Tramlines Music Festival by playing on the Supertram in 2009

From 2017, its scope widened to Sheffield’s parks, and it became an entirely outdoors festival.  

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Then last year saw the relocation to Hillsborough Park, to cater for its ever swelling numbers of fans and to be concentrated in one main area, so easing organisation and management.

Back in 2009, local Indie band Paperdots, consisting of Anthoney Barlow; Scott Howes; James Leazely and Jonathan Birch, had launched the first Tramlines by playing on the Supertram in Sheffield centre.

It was only fitting as the name of the festival is inspired by the city's tram network.

Visitors to the first Tramlines

That first festival attracted 35,000 fans, but the 2010 Tramlines managed to virtually double that figure, and the numbers have continued to grow year by year as the festival’s reputation has spread.

In 2011 the event took the title of 'Best Metropolitan Festival' at the UK Festival Awards.  

Performers in 2009 included such names as as Rolo Tomassi, Pixie Lott, Just Jack, Toddla T, Little Boots, Example, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, and Reverend and the Makers, who headlined.

That festival showed its environmental conscience by recycling 400 litres of paper, 2080 litres of plastic and 560 litres of aluminium in the outdoor venues alone.

Fans at the early Tramlines festival

An environmental campaign followed in 2010, when 250 artists performed at the festival.

Some big name headliners included Echo and the Bunnymen, Mystery Jets, Simian Mobile Disco DJ set, Professor Green, Tinchy Stryder,  The Hoosiers, and Craig David.

Additional names to have graced the Sheffield stage over the next years included The Libertines, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Sister Sledge, The Charlatans, Public Enemy, Basement Jaxx, Dizzee Rascal, The Coral, All Saints, Kano, Metronomy, Primal Scream, The Cribs, and Kelis.

Look out for a Tramlines special picture feature, celebrating its journey, the bands and the legions of fans who come to enjoy them, in the Star next week.

This year's Tramlines will run from July 19-21.