In previous years, Tramlines festival has been hosted in various venues across Sheffield’s city centre including the O2 Academy, The Leadmill, City Hall, Sheffield Cathedral and a main stage in Ponderosa Park. This year, they decided to switch things up a bit by bringing everything to one location and moving the festival to Hillsborough Park – a few miles outside of the city, but easily accessible by tram. Or at least, it is when the trams aren’t on strike. It’s not something that Tramlines can be blamed for, but it certainly caused a lot of hassle for everyone attending the festival.
Transport issues aside, the new location at Hillsborough Park is ideal for a festival. There’s a comfortable amount of space for the four stages, and at no point did the festival feel overcrowded. Rarely would you have to queue more than a few minutes for anything (unless you wanted poutine from The Gravy Train, in which case, bring a book).
With so many festivals happening every year, it takes that little bit extra to stand out and attract as many people as possible. Tramlines caters to a very wide audience, not just with diversity in the artists performing, but with the addition of comedy acts, a pop-up cinema and family area. Unfortunately, in moving to Hillsborough Park, they’ve taken away the opportunity for people to venture outside of the ‘festival’ to enjoy everything else the city has to offer.
What repeat visitors to Tramlines might have noticed is that The Folk Forest is no longer a stage at Tramlines, but in fact a separate festival of its own. Sure, it’d be somewhat inconvenient to have a stage four miles away from the festival site, but it’s something else that Tramlines has lost, making it even harder to justify the £80 ticket price (compared to £45 in previous years).
It’s only fitting that Tramlines move to a bigger location and double their capacity to celebrate their 10th year, but the changes have also shifted the festival’s atmosphere. Tramlines used to feel like a celebration for the whole of Sheffield, but some of that has been lost, and it’s starting to feel like every other festival. Three miles makes a big difference.
Despite this, Tramlines was successful in winning over a lot of those who were sceptical about its new form. It’s hard to fault the quality of the acts or the organisation of the festival, and now that it has laid its foundations at Hillsborough Park, the team can continue to build higher in future years.