Yorkshire’s finest old pubs, abandoned Victorian factories, a forest, a cathedral, a bus and Sheffield’s most iconic music venue, The Leadmill, will all play host to the biggest musical event on Sheffield’s calendar later this month.
This year Tramlines music festival welcomes more than 200 artists to Sheffield, playing hip hop, Britpop and everything in between, for the festival’s seventh annual instalment.
With punk veterans the Buzzcocks, new-wave soul legend Neneh Cherry, The Charlatans and hip hop revolutionaries Wu-Tang Clan heading up the main stage, techno from the likes of James Holden and electro from Erol Alkan ensure the ground carries on rumbling into the night long after the trams have stopped.
The queen of Motown Martha Reeves will also make an appearance - her anthem Dancing In The Street chimes perfectly with the atmosphere of the weekend, as sounds spill from almost every doorway in the city centre for 72 hours over the weekend of 24-26 July.
No other music festival transforms a city quite like Tramlines. The central location within Sheffield's compact city centre means people are brought together, with the festival now an established part of the city's fabric, much like the tram-tracks which give it its name.
In the past the festival was free to attend, but from 2012 attendees have had to pay a small sum for tickets. And with a weekend pass for this year's event just £30, it’s pocket money compared to many other UK festivals.
It's no surprise that Tramlines has continued to grow each year. Last year 100,000 people attended and festival director Sarah Nulty expects this year will be even bigger. To accommodate the crowds the main stage will move to The Ponderosa, a recreation ground just outside the city centre.
One reason for the festival's success is the steel city stoicism of its organisers and their army of volunteers.
Sarah says: "We wouldn’t have got to where we are now without the help of a dedicated and talented team who give up their time to make the festival happen, with many people working for free. I’d like to thank all the volunteers and interns who work with us in the build up to the event as without them, Tramlines wouldn’t be possible."
Sheffield Hallam University has a long-running partnership with Tramlines, with students taking up volunteering opportunities and getting free passes to the festival. With so much work required to organise an event on this scale, there is no shortage of roles which need filling.
Charlotte Rowley, lecturer in events management at Sheffield Hallam, explains: "Tramlines Festival is an amazing opportunity for our students to gain experience working in the industry, whilst also giving something back to the city.
"This unique insight into the backstage goings-on at a major music festival helps them with their course and allows them to make valuable connections. Tramlines also gains volunteers who are talented and enthusiastic. It really is a fantastic and mutually beneficial experience.”
Robert Saubole is in his second year studying events management with arts entertainment at Sheffield Hallam. He'll be helping out this year after volunteering at last year's event which saw Public Enemy, Katy B and The Cribs headline.
He says: "While working at Tramlines I've been able to use what I've learned on my course and apply it to a real life working environment. It’s given me a great insight into what it's like working at a festival and has confirmed for me that this is the career path I want to pursue. It can be long hours and stressful at times but the feeling you get when the weekend is over and it was a success is one of the best feelings I've ever had."
Through the connections he made last year, Robert has managed to land a year-long placement working for Tramlines: "When it came to looking for a placement I decided I didn't want to leave Sheffield. I got in touch with the director of Tramlines and I was lucky enough to be offered a placement working on the events management team.
"I've been to many festivals but never to one like Tramlines - the whole city gets involved and the sense of community is overwhelming… I can't wait to experience it all again this year."
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