Interview: 7 Questions for Sarah Nulty, Director of Tramlines

2014 Sarah Nulty & Flava Flav - credit Simon Butler_preview

Sarah Nulty & Flava Flav – credit Simon Butler

We sit down with Sarah Nulty, Director of Tramlines, to find out what propelled the festival’s move to a brand new site and why fresh stages and unique entertainment for 2018 still qualify Tramlines as a must on the UK’s increasingly competitive festival calendar.


By mid March you’d already sold more tickets than any year before, which is really impressive. Can you tell me a bit about why you chose to move Tramlines to Hillsborough Park and why you think the new festival set up has got people so excited this time around?

Hillsborough Park is a gorgeous park and is easily reached on the tram, it feels like the perfect space for us as we can get everyone on one site. Our previous sites didn’t give us any room to grow or add extra activity; people are looking for more from a festival, not just a stage in a park. I think people are excited by the idea of a more traditional greenfield festival that still has the convenience of a city event. The headliners are bigger than ever before, and I think that the bill has loads of big names this year

I noticed that a few Sheffield bands including The Orielles and High Hazels are playing on the Leadmill Live stage. Could you break down the stages and explain how you have characterised them into genres/styles?

We have 4 main stages and a developed new area on site this year. The Main Stage is where you will find the headline acts of the weekend and tends to be a little more accessible/mainstream with a real focus on big indie this year. Stage 2 is a mix of pop and indie across the weekend. The Leadmill is a real representation of what they do all year round and has some great locals as well as curation by Jon Reverend and some top headliners.

The Library Stage is our new music stage and is slightly more left-leaning than the other stages. This stage is for those looking for something more alternative to the main stages. Into The Trees was a new area last year that hosted DJs on Ponderosa, but this year we will have a load of family entertainment by day with circus skills, pop up cinema and art classes. And by night we’ll have some of the best of the local scene on the decks including Fruit N Juice – an all-female arts collective that have been putting on some great events.

You ran a second stage naming competition; can you tell me any of the shortlist names – or even funniest suggestions you’ve had?

Some of the suggestions have actually been quite tame, we’re looking for something that’s Sheffield without being predictable. And the winner is – T’OTHER Stage! It was announced on Facebook earlier this month.

I can’t wait to catch De La Soul perform at Hillsborough Park. Tramlines has always been really strong for its 80s and 90s hip hop; you’ve had everyone from Jurassic 5 and Public Enemy to the Sugarhill Gang up on the bill, but you’ve also got an immense indie line up this year. Which act are you most excited to see and why?

De La Soul are amazing and I can’t wait for them. I’m also really excited by Stefflon Don and Mabel who are both playing on Saturday. My guilty pleasures are Clean Bandit and Craig David, but to be honest, I am lucky if I get to see the acts so I try not to make a list.

Now that you’re located out of town, will there still be late night shenanigans this year?

We aren’t hosting any parties ourselves but there are some official after parties taking place at venues we’ve worked with. Sheffield Student Union, The Night Kitchen and The Academy are hosting parties and the offering is really strong. Between them they have Denis Sulta, Horse Meat Disco, Plump DJs, Artful Dodger, DJ Luck and MC Neat. I will definitely be heading to the after parties on the Saturday night.

For me, I know the all new comedy tent is going to be a huge highlight (especially Henning Wehn). It’s great to have comedy at Tramlines for the first time, really adding that arts element to the festival and putting it on the map with Bestival and Glastonbury who tend to dedicate a big chunk of their bill to theatre and shows. Which aspects of the new festival site do you think the public will most respond to?

The comedy and family areas have been added as a direct response to customer feedback. Comedy has always been requested as a new addition, so I expect the tent to be pretty busy. I’m hoping that Into The Trees will do well as we are really keen to make the festival more accessible to families. It seems more and more of my friends are having children, and I want them to still come 😊

Can you tell me about your pledge to remove plastics from Tramlines festival by 2021.

The festival industry has been doing loads in the way of sustainability and I think Tramlines needs to make sure it is too. We want to start the process this year with removing plastic, but need to work with our traders etc. to make sure it’s across the site. Hopefully we can get there before 2021, but there is a UK wide campaign for festivals to try and hit that target which we are part of.


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