On the right lines

Fans ready for the main stage to get started
Fans ready for the main stage to get started

THE party is over and there is not so much a hangover as a sense of beaming satisfaction that Sheffield had a whale of a time.

Certainly, the numbers were mammoth. An estimated 150,000 people went to the Tramlines music festival across the city over the three days, the biggest ever turnout since the event started three years ago.

Dananananakroyd performing at Tramlines

Dananananakroyd performing at Tramlines

And there was widespread agreement this week that it was also the best ever, generating a carnival and cosmopolitan atmosphere across the city centre with a helping hand from the Continental market in Fargate and the inflatable Luminarium in front of the Anglican Cathedral.

Traders in food and drink notched up record sales. One pub owner said it was like having Christmas in July.

Tramlines organisers were delighted with the way the big crowds had been handled.

“The music is hugely important but the way you judge the success of the festival is like taking the temperature of the atmosphere,” said festival director Dave Healey. “There were so many people and so many things to do.

“The people of Sheffield came out in more numbers than ever but we also got music fans from all over the country. It’s showing what Sheffield can do.”

More than 600 acts performed on four main stages in the city centre and at 70 pubs, clubs, bars and other venues across the city in a free festival that has been described as an “urban Glastonbury” in terms of attendance and the ethos of wandering from site to site.

Despite the crowds, organisers declared themselves satisfied with the way queues kept moving. “It was busy but nothing was getting closed, which put everybody in a good moved,” said Dave. “We were really happy with the numbers.”

Although there was rain on the Friday night as Sheffield band Heaven 17 provided the main attraction in Barkers Pool, the weather gradually improved, and by Sunday the sun was well and truly smiling on the city’s celebrations.

An overall review will be held over the next few weeks but Dave said nothing sprang to mind that required major attention for next year. In particular, he said: “The balance of the music was spot on.”

A few more toilets may be called for but there many plus points to reflect upon, including the introduction of the Folk Forest in Endcliffe Park.

“I loved the vintage market at the side of the City Hall and that will get bigger next year. It added to the festival atmosphere.

“There will be something extra next year. It will be a bit bigger but we want to keep the feeling as it is now. And there will be a few surprises.”

Tramlines started as a way of helping music venues keep going during the summer and its success is largely down to the commitment and enthusiasm of the independent sector working with the council.

Just over a third of the cost, £110,000, was paid this year by the council. Sponsors Nokia contributed a third and the rest came from other sources including stallholders.

Council leader Julie Dore said the festival should be seen as part of Sheffield’s attempts to raise its profile and reputation to become a “business-friendly” city, in the hope of attracting investment and jobs.

The authority remained committed to Tramlines, despite the economic climate, she said.

“It will be tough trying to continue with the financial commitment but hopefully we will work with other businesses and sponsors to find solutions to meet all the needs.”

Coun Dore described the weekend as “an amazing success. There was something for everybody and there was a fantastic atmosphere. And the weather made it. As far as I am aware, there was no trouble.”

Chief Insp Simon Verrall said: “We have been delighted to see so many people in good spirits without causing trouble.

“Given the thousands of people in and around Sheffield city centre both for Tramlines and the Sheffield Wednesday versus Leeds United football match, there were just three arrests on Saturday for minor public order offences. They were not at the main Tramlines site.”