Tramlines, Sheffield’s biggest festival of music, art and comedy, has come to a close marking a landmark moment for the city and the UK live events industry. 40,000 revellers a day attended the sold-out event at Hillsborough Park from 23 - 25 July as Tramlines became the largest festival to return in Western Europe and among the first to join the Government’s Events Research Programme.
Highlight performances over the weekend came from The Streets frontman Mike Skinner who popped a bottle of champagne on Sarah Nulty’s Main Stage in celebration of crowds coming together after periods of extended lockdown.
When disco diva Sophie Ellis-Bextor brought her popular Disco Kitchen livestream series to real life audiences with a jukebox of tunes including a euphoric cover of Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’.
Almost stealing the show was Dizzee Rascal who had crowds in the palm of his hand. The gratitude oozing from Dizzee on Sunday evening was touching. As he donned a Tramlines scarf, he said, “It’s been two years since I’ve touched a stage – I’m gona do this again”.
Tramlines gave dozens of bands and artists the opportunity to play music that was recorded in lockdown to live audiences for the first time. The Streets’ Freedom Day single, ’Who’s Got The Bag’ sent crowds jumping; Little Simz made the live debut of her single ‘Little Q’; and ‘End Of The Earth’ from the second album of Sheffield indie-rockers, The Sherlocks, also went down a storm.
Tramlines 2021 marked a new beginning for festival goers, as friends and loved ones – some who hadn’t seen one another for over a year - were able to come together without having to wear masks or socially distance.
As part of the Events Research Programme, Tramlines trialled the NHS Covid Pass system as an extra layer of protection for festival goers. It was a first for everyone, but the vast majority were well prepared and simply showed their NHS COVID Pass at the gate, proving they were fully vaccinated or had a recent negative NHS Lateral Flow test. The festival’s hard working and friendly team of Ambassadors gave anyone who needed it a little extra help to complete the process.
After considerable preparation, this was a straightforward addition to the festival’s measures to minimise the risk of infection at the event and in the community. On this year’s bigger site, revellers found T’Other Stage in its own new arena, bigger bar marquees and more toilets, all designed to maximise space and help the audience to feel comfortable as they made their music festival return. Tramlines’ experience of how the new measures worked in practice will help the ERP’s research into how future events might run.
For festival organisers, it was an emotional but rewarding weekend. Tramlines Operations Director, Timm Cleasby said: “After 18 months of strangeness, it was unbelievable to be back in the park again. There have been so many hurdles we’ve had to jump to get here and honestly, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. It’s been great to see so many happy smiling faces from crew getting back to the thing they love to revellers having the time of their lives watching the bands they love. Hearing the first band ring out over the festival was an emotional moment.
"I'd really like to thank everyone for playing their part with the NHS COVID Pass system. It ran very smoothly and by being part of the Events Research Programme, together we're helping to pave the way for festivals and live events to get back to normal.
"I’m full of gratitude for everyone; our amazing crew and suppliers, the support from the DCMS, Public Health Sheffield, Sheffield Council, and of course our fans. Thank you all for helping us do this, we love you all and we can’t wait to see you all next year.”
Greg Pell, Director of Public Health Sheffield added: “I’ve been impressed by the efforts of Tramlines in terms of Covid testing. It was a mammoth task which was carefully planned for and has been implemented really well. The feedback from attendees has been great, the Covid checks at the gates have worked, with attendees more than happy to show proof of a negative test or double vaccination. This has led to a well-received test event. Thanks to all involved for making Covid testing a priority, whilst allowing people to enjoy one of Sheffield’s biggest and most loved events.”
Tramlines’ new cabaret stage, The Open Arms was also a huge hit and added even more colour to the programme. Leadmill’s resident club night, Club Tropicana took over on Friday night and set the party mood with 80s and disco hits; Shaun Williamson’s Barry-oke was a laugh and a half with him belting out ‘Mustang Sally’ with festival goers, while alternative entertainment came from Warda Yassin, Sheffield’s Poet Laurette.
Local Sheffield talent was also well represented with standout performances from The Reytons, Lucy Spraggan, and Tramlines 2021 ‘Apply To Play Winner’, Rumbi Tauro.
Earlybird tickets for Tramlines 2022 are now on sale from www.tramlines.org.uk priced at £79.50 plus booking fee. Previous phase one tickets for Tramlines have sold out fast. People are advised to be quick to get the best value ticket for 2022.
Tramlines Festival would like to personally thank each and every person who attended the event, the workers who helped stage it, and to the many volunteers who without their support, Tramlines would not be possible.
While lineups for Tramlines 2022 are not announced, another fantastic year of music, art, comedy and cabaret lies ahead as Tramlines continues to grow as Sheffield’s biggest and best-loved live music event.
For more information visit: www.tramlines.org.uk