Let’s talk about Sheffield’s Circle Festival

Hi guys,

As I’m off to my first festival of 2017 next week and I promised that I’ll be blogging about my experiences, I want to start the series of festival reviews with the very last one I attended in 2016.

Picture the scene… it’s the first weekend of October 2016, I have wrecked my body and bank balance going to every festival that I can over the past few months and finally, I was off to my last one of “the season” as I liked to call it.

Adoring my tinsel jacket, glitter and silver space boots I headed off to Sheffield’s first ever dedicated dance music festival, Circle.

In “normal life”, so to speak, I love EVERY KIND of music going. But at festivals, without sounding like a complete d*ck, house is definitely my music of choice.

My idea of a perfect festival would be mainly house with perhaps a mix of bands and more mainstream-y stuff – I saw Red Hot Chili Peppers at Leeds Festival last year for example and they were absolutely incredible.

I’ve been a student in Sheffield and so as such have spent many a night in Tank and Fez (RIP!) so I know there is a definite demand for house music here.

So when I found out about Circle Festival, I was ecstatic! Finally, I thought, we have Tramlines (which is awesome) but this is something new that this city really needs.

Circle Festival was held at Don Valley – I’d seen the photos of the set up on the day and the site looked great. I had certain preconceptions about it – I envisioned it to be sizeable and comparable to the likes of Mint festival in Leeds which I’d been to the week before. But oh how wrong I was…

The festival was marketed as “Sheffield’s NEWEST / BIGGEST / OUTDOOR / DAYTIME dance music festival” with a “Huge line up across 3 big top tents”. The promotional videos looked amazing. But I have to say, when it came down to the actual event, I was actually really, really disappointed.

Now I’ve never been to Don Valley in the day time so I guess I didn’t realise quite how small it is for an event like this. The tents weren’t big. They were small and crammed together in this tiny space that just wasn’t comparable to any festival I’ve been to before.

Even as a 23 year old, I felt surrounded by people a lot younger than me, running around like they’d never been drunk before. We were told that Katy B, who was the main act dropped out at the last minute, leaving myself and my friend Lydia feeling a bit deflated and unsure what to do next.

Since doing some research for this piece, I’ve seen videos of Katy B at the event so we must have been on the receiving end of an incorrect rumour. But honestly, by that time we were feeling so let down by the whole event we didn’t need much excuse to jump in a taxi head back home.

Tickets cost £45 which for a day festival isn’t cheap – and £60 on the door. I know that festivals generally aren’t a cheap endeavour but compare that to the £35 I paid for my full weekend at Tramlines or £30 for Mint Festival in Leeds the weekend before (which was amazing) and you can understand why I was comparatively underwhelmed.

Mint festival had a lot more strings to it’s bow – facepainting stands, plenty of food, and the tents were decorated amazingly. It gave the general impression that more thought being put into the whole thing.

Now I don’t want the organisers to see this as a scathing review  – I’m just trying to be honest and constructive. I understand that a fair few of my points were outside of their control. And trust me when I say that I’ve been to a LOT of festivals and I do think that there is a need for something like Circle in Sheffield, for sure.

I loved that it was a little later on in October for something to look forward to at the end of the summer months. But there is definite room for improvement, and for it to develop and grow into something which attracts visitors from other cities around the UK. Right now, it just isn’t that at all.

Until next time,

H x

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