26th-28th July 2019 Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire
A “live music/child friendly utopia”. That was the vision of husband and wife team Oliver Jones and Kate Webster when they set out some ten years ago to establish the inaugural edition of Deer Shed Festival.
After visiting many cultural events with their kids and constantly feeling short-changed by the “family friendly” tag usually being code for a half-hearted children’s area away from the main attractions, they decided, with a bunch of friends who remain at the core of the festival team today, to build the festival of their dreams.
The festival site is 90 acres of rolling hills, tree lined avenues, enchanted forests and a beautiful lake, all set within the confines of Baldersby Park in Topcliffe. Large enough to fit the 10,000-strong community of festival-goers (50-50 adult-children ratio) inside with space to spare, but not so big as to leave any reservation about letting your kids explore freely.
While the carefully curated and ever-expanding music line-up – spanning indie, folk, rock, electronic, hip-hop and global – is still a main attraction for many, as the festival prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary, there is so much more to the Deer Shed Festival experience.
Deer Shed Festival 10 (2019)
Music: Ezra Furman (headline), Anna Calvi (headline), Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (headline), The Wedding Present (special guest), Steve Mason, Akala, Palace, Sunflower Bean, Gruff Rhys, Lucy Rose, Flyte, The Slow Readers Club, She Drew The Gun, Insecure Men, BC Camplight, John Bramwell, Tracyanne & Danny, Tiny Ruins, Fontaines DC, Self Esteem, The Leisure Society, Piroshka, Charles Watson, Tom Williams, Kathryn Joseph, Willie J Healey, Pip Blom, The Howl & The Hum, You Tell Me, Skinny Pelembe, The Once, Lisa O’Neill, K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade, Laurel, Dylan Cartlidge, Pom Poko, Penelope Isles, Rascalton, Emily Burns, Gently Tender, Lucia, Adult Mom, Bess Atwell, Walt Disco, Mi Mye & many more.
Comedy, Shows & Live Podcasts: Reginald D. Hunter, Nina Conti, Milton Jones, Denim, Rachel Parris, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Tez Ilyas, The Scummy Mummies, Barbara Nice, Tom Parry, Brett Domino Trio, Beetlemania, Amy Gledhill, Alice Fraser, Jonny & The Baptists, Lucy Beaumont, Wifi Wars, Inel Tomlinson, Foxdog Studios, Johnny Cochrane, Planet Earth III, Sarah Bennetto, Sleeping Trees, The Kagools, Magica Bones, Ria Lina, Helen Duff, Bellatrix, Games with James, Sport for the Unsporty, Pat Cahill, Stepdads, The Bean Counter, Judge Moody vs The Illegal Eagle, Mad Etiquette.
The theme for 2019, which changes annually, is Generation XYZ: an excuse for the festival team to curate the arts, science and sport programmes with inspiration from the different fashions and fads beloved by each generation that attends the festival (X, Y & Z).
Over 125 arts, craft and science workshops are run for kids who might not be big music or comedy fans, allowing them to achieve the Arts Award Discover level throughout the weekend. The science tent features a disco-themed forensics challenge, a retro video games arcade, algoraves, music production tutorials, Fortnite tutoring (strictly for adults only, to level the playing field), VR and the chance to DJ on tech from the ‘80s, ‘90s and the modern day.
The lush, sprawling sports arena – offering wrestling demonstrations and workshops, fencing and even Jane Fonda-themed aerobics classes, as well as classics like football coaching, tree climbing, kayaking on the lake and quidditch – caters comprehensively for kids that are full of beans.
Regarding Deer Shed’s tenth anniversary, director Oliver Jones said:
“When we started out I was often asked, ‘why did you start a festival, what made you want to do it?’ The answer always condensed itself down to the following: that everyone wants to share the stuff they love. It could be music, a TV show, or a new stamp added to their collection. Sharing is a natural human instinct.
Introducing our audience to the next big thing in music, comedy, theatre, science or sport, is undoubtedly a big perk. But ultimately Deer Shed is about doing something good. We have never run the festival to make excessive profits, despite what some people seem to think about how much independent festivals make.
By providing an environment for families to spend time together, away from the everyday pressures of life, to experience new things, learn new skills, make new friends and broaden horizons, I feel we make a tangible difference to peoples’ lives, young and old. That’s why my wife Kate and I are still doing this slightly crazy thing ten years on, and why we hope to continue doing it for the next ten, or at least as long as our audience continue to show their faith in us.”
Deer Shed Festival – which was shortlisted for ‘Best Family Festival’ at the 2018 UK Festival Awards – has already sold over 80% of its 10,000 ticket allocation for 2019.