Blog On The Tyne

'We're going for a village fete feel on this with tea tents, circus acts, a giant Kaleidoscope and many more interactive bits and bobs! Bit of a difference that'll make a real difference to the event.'

I think everyone who produces an independent festival is often asked the same question: ‘What makes your event different from all the others?’ Our answer is quite simple: ‘We are in a City centre!’ This is usually followed by puzzled looks and a long explanation but here goes the short version.

Despite having a capacity of 30,000 each day over the last May Bank Holiday weekend (30th and 31st May) we take over more or less the whole of the Quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead for the week of building the site and taking down. This year we have taken 3 sites with varying capacities. We are fortunate to have access to a massive underused car park which holds 25,000 people (Spiller’s wharf), Baltic Square on the Gateshead side (3,000 capacity) which nestles between the sage Gateshead (a massive concert hall) and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art with a small park at Ballast Hills (3,000) about 150 yards up from the main site.

Does this mean a load more issues that other festivals don’t tend to get? Oh yes. No camping for one… but others include the fact that the site is surrounded by businesses (mainly legal firms as well) and lots of expensive residential property. So noise, cleaning and site preservation are paramount.

We’re lucky in that we have forward-thinking councils (yes we have to deal with 2) who are supportive alongside residents who make little or no complaints. On the plus side, we only charge £25 this year, we have hundreds of hotels offering great deals, most people who come travel by bus and the local metro system and we never, never have mud!!

The sites are completely different and because we are on a built up location are quite far from each other. Therefore we tend to programme them in a way that each site is an event in itself. Spillers host the main acts which tend to be more mainstream, your general crowd pleasers. This year we have Paolo Nutini, The Horrors, De La Soul, Enter Shakari, Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding leading the way. The Baltic turns to dance on the Sunday and given the highly cultural nature of the buildings surrounding it we pride ourselves on holding the biggest outdoor dance event in the North with this one. Rusko, Benga, Fake Blood and many more take the decks and rock it!!

However, with us having added a new site this year we are looking to create a festival within a festival at Ballast Hills, one with a more relaxed atmosphere as we programme it with folk, blues and roots. Donavan makes an appearance on his last ever tour and North East domineers of the folk scene, The Unthanks headline the other day. We’re going for a village fete feel on this with tea tents, circus acts, a giant Kaleidoscope and many more interactive bits and bobs! Bit of a difference that’ll make a real difference to the event.

Evolution is definitely a growing event and continues to monitor the Evolution of Music, this is its core strength.  Spotting talent early and booking it… wherever you are this year for a festival make sure you check out Everything Everything, Fake Blood, Rusko, and without a doubt Frankie and The Heart Strings. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out full line up and accommodation details at

Jim Mawdsley

Event Director, Evolution