Why it is so important for Sheffield that Tramlines Festival goes ahead

The organisers of Tramlines have said that they will make a lineup announcement on Monday – and it is more important than ever that it takes centre stage this summer.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 12:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 12:36 pm
Tramlines Festival organisers will make a lineup announcement on Monday.
Tramlines Festival organisers will make a lineup announcement on Monday.

Tramlines Festival was taking place long before I arrived in Sheffield for university – but that doesn’t mean I hadn’t heard of it, and have been every year since.

After cancellation of the festival in 2020, it looks like it will be back this summer, and it couldn’t come at a more important time for the city.

Boomtown Festival in Hampshire announced yesterday that it would not go ahead due to a ‘lack of government-backed insurance scheme’, making the event too risky for organisers and festival-goers.

This comes after both Glastonbury and Download also made the decision to cancel the 2021 instalment, with Glastonbury going online instead, like many of life’s pleasures in the past year.

Granted these festivals are much bigger than Tramlines – its new venue, Hillsborough Park, has a capacity of 30,000; Boomtown comes in at 66,000, Download 110,000 and Glastonbury over 200,000 – but with the track-record of cancellations over the past year, and concerns of of new variants, it is a bold move for Tramlines to announce their lineup. But one that won’t have been made lightly.

Due to an inability to socially-distance, and the sheer amount of people in a small space, music festivals would be the first to go should the government tighten restrictions once more, and I am sure the organisers of ‘Sheffield’s biggest party’ will have plans in place should that happen.

Its history in Sheffield is well-documented – starting as a free event in 2009, it has grown and grown, moving from the city centre to Ponderosa Park in 2015, and to the even bigger Hillsborough Park in 2018.

Despite some anger at the decision, its impact on S6 has been one that business owners and residents in the area have praised – bringing people to the area in their droves in July, packing out pubs and shops in the meantime.

Both of our football clubs could be relegated this year, our independent bars, restaurants and pubs have been forced to shut for months on end, and Sheffielders have been denied the opportunity to champion our iconic music scene.

Not only would Tramlines give us an opportunity to celebrate together once more, it would support business, give a platform for local and national artists, and would (say it quietly, now) signify a return to normality.

Tramlines will take place at Hillsborough Park from Friday, July 23 to Sunday, July 25.