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Cover me in glitter, pass me a gin and lemonade and stick me in a field full of live music any day of the week. Festivals are truly one of my favourite places to be, and this weekend, Jake and I headed up to Bingley, near Bradford for a day of food, fun, photo ops and some fantastic live music.
The Bingley Weekender initially launched in 2019 when the council-run music festival in the town was pulled due to costs, with organisers dedicated to bringing ‘top class musicians to the area’. The inaugural event was a roaring success, but then, of course, Covid came along.
After two missed years of music and entertainment, it’s safe to say that Bingley was raring to go, and ticket holders were ready to make up for the last two years.
Jake and I attended on Saturday, August 7, where The Libertines were headlining, supported by Shed Seven and The Amazins. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man had kicked off the weekend on Friday night, with Pixies closing the festival on Sunday. For a new and relatively small festival, the line up was great, featuring the likes of Joy Division’s Peter Hook & The Light, The Slow Readers Club, White Lies and The K’s.
Held at Bradford and Bingley Sports Club, the Bingley Weekender has a capacity of 5,000 people a day. In comparison, Sheffield’s Tramlines is 40,000, making the three-day event a cosy and intimate affair.
When we arrived, we scouted out the space to get our bearings around the food stalls, activities and three stages: Main, Discovery and New Music. 22 musicians and bands were to perform on the day, and Jake and I managed to see approximately half of them, which we thought was pretty good going. Most of the stage times meant that if you watched half-sets, you could probably have watched everyone.
The stages weren’t too far apart either, and as a result, while fans were absolutely buzzing, the vibe was generally quite relaxed and laid back, which was really nice. Moreover, I was able to wear my Dr Marten’s without worrying my feet would hurt by the end of the night.
Early on in the afternoon we caught sets from The Jade Assembly and Blondes, followed by Jonny Brown (Twisted Wheel), Tom A Smith and Weekend Recovery.
There was plenty of time between sets to grab a bite to eat from one of the many street food stalls, which included Greek food, hog roast and loaded fries, with donuts and other sweet treats also on offer. Throughout the day, we ate our way through some philly steak loaded fries, hot mini donuts, cheese burgers and Mr Whippy ice cream, washed down with gin, prosecco and craft beer from the various bars.
We spent a great deal of our evening in the VIP area, where we could lounge on deck chairs and had access to a separate bar and pizza stall, not to mention luxury loos, which are always very welcome at a festival. From here, you could get a great view of the stage without having to muscle your way to the front, and it was really handy to be able to go off to grab a drink or pop to the loo without worry of losing your spot or being unable to find your mates again.
And it’s not just live music you can enjoy at the Bingley Weekender either – there are also some fun activities to get stuck into, too, including a prize every time fair game, crystal stall and a bucking bronco. The bronco was £5 a go, and the gent manning the machine let me have two fall-offs for that. And if I learned two things from the festival, it’s that bucking broncos aren’t as easy as they look, and that friction burns hurt – but I had a lot of fun giving it a go.
There was also a shipping container prime for getting the perfect Instagram photo, split into three booths and painted with different designs as a funky backdrop. I honestly think every festival needs one of these as it was very cute.
Back over at the main stage Jake and I watched politically-fuelled Beans on Toast and rockers The K’s, as well as Alfie Templeman, who we first discovered at Tramlines two weeks ago.
One thing I really loved was that there was a British Sign Language interpreter on the main stage all day signing the lyrics of the songs to ensure better accessibility for audience members. It was really lovely to see, and it was great that the bands acknowledged their signer, asking how to sign particular song names, and thanking them as they did their own musicians. Forget the photo booth – this is what every UK festival needs, because it was super valuable and really set the festival apart from others I’ve been to.
Jake and I have wanted to see The Amazons for such a long time, and it was amazing to see them live at the Bingley Weekender. The Reading-based band have a new album out in September followed by an October tour, and the festival has solidified my decision to go ahead and buy tickets.
At Tramlines, we missed Shed Seven’s set by literally four minutes, but luckily, they were at Bingley Weekender where we were able to enjoy all the hits from the 90s for one hour in the sun. Frontman Rick Witter gave some fan shout outs, including one to a 10-year-old boy enjoying his first live music experience – he later got off stage and gave him a maraca.
The Libertines – who are currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album ‘Up The Bracket – headlined the Saturday night. The band put on a great show, pulling out hits like Can’t Stand Me Now, with Pete – at one point – playing the guitar with a sex toy that had been thrown onto the stage.
Curfew for the evening was 10pm, which was quite nice actually as 10 hours in a field is really quite a long time when you think about it. But also, it meant Jake and I could be home before midnight, having had a fantastic day at the event.
Tickets are pretty reasonably priced considering the size of the acts on the bill, costing around £55 per day, and we’d definitely consider going again next year, as it’s brilliant value for money.
Find out more about the Bingley Weekender here.