All Tomorrow's Parties consigned to yesterday as organisers pull plug and announce 'it's time to move on' from Camber Sands festival

After 14 years the music festival where stars and audience mingle in a holiday camp is to close

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The Independent Culture

One of the country’s best-loved cult music festivals is to call it a day after almost a decade and a half.

The All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) festival which holds events on the south coast will come to a close later this year after organisers decided it was time to “move on”.

The holiday camp festival – staged at holiday camps such as Pontins in Camber Sands – has been a popular draw as artists such as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Portishead and the actor and musician Vincent Gallo have chosen line-ups over the years. The success of the festival has seen it spread around the world to the United States and Australia.

But organisers have decided to pursue other projects, with two final shows scheduled for the end of the year.

“I guess it’s the end of an era,” said ATP organiser Barry Hogan. “We had been doing it for 14 years and we’ve put on every band we ever wanted to. It’s sad, but you don’t want it dragging on for ever like the Rolling Stones. I want people to look back on it with fond memories, rather than be one of those festivals that fizzles out – it was time to move on.”

In the final shows, American new-wave band Television will perform their influential 1977 Marquee Moon album in full. South London guitar band Loop will reform briefly to perform and curate the bill.

The festival had its roots in a 1999 event curated by indie band Belle and Sebastian and known as the Bowlie Weekender. A follow-up the following year was named All Tomorrow’s Parties, after the Velvet Underground track. The festival was unique as when not performing, bands would mingle with fans, staying in the same accommodation. It was also seen as an antidote to the larger, more corporate festivals such as Reading and Leeds.

The music would often lean towards avant-garde, underground hip-hop and electronica as well as more traditional rock. The lack of sponsorship also made the festival very credible at a time when others were becoming more commercial.

In 2009, a feature-length documentary was released which premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

BBC 6Music DJ Tom Ravenscroft, who has attended the festival eight times, including the first, said: “I remember being instantly confused because we normally went to festivals but here we had apartments, which was very cool. In most festivals you’re normally separated from the bands, but at ATP there is no ‘backstage area’.

“So when you’re sat there eating KFC, all the bands are sat there eating KFC. The most amazing thing is, as it’s at a holiday camp, you end up swimming with the bands.”

The two-part finale will take place over consecutive weekends on 22-24 November and 29 November to 1 December and will include the bands Dinosaur Jr, and Chelsea Light Moving. The artist Dinos Chapman, one of the notorious art duo the Chapman Brothers, will be taking the stage for a performance of his electronic album, Luftbobler.