Tramlines 2021: Fans 'making up' for missed years

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People near the Tramlines stage
Image caption,
Tramlines is able to hold 40,000 on each day at the Hillsborough Park site

Tens of thousands of people are expected at the Tramlines music festival in Sheffield this weekend.

It will be the biggest event of its kind in Europe since the pandemic started, organisers have claimed.

Some 40,000 people are expected each day of the three-day festival, with organisers saying entry tickets have sold out.

Those attending are required to show a negative coronavirus test or that they have been double-jabbed.

'I need to live my life'

Image caption,
Holly Agar (middle), Niamh Watson (right) and Elly Gilvarry at their first festival since Leeds Festival in 2019

Friends Holly Agar, Niamh Watson and Elly Gilvarry said they were "ecstatic" to be at an event again.

"I'm buzzing. We haven't seen each other in ages, so nice to be at an event again and having a laugh without it feeling serious," wheelchair basketball player Elly said.

Eighteen-year-old Niamh she said it felt "like normal life again" and she was excited to be back around thousands of people.

"This is the first thing we've done. It's a bit scary, but so nice to forget for a minute," Niamh said. "It feels like we're living again."

The Wakefield trio last went to Leeds Festival in 2019 and for 22-year-old Holly lockdown has changed the way she looks at life.

"I'm not saying no to anything ever again. I need to live my life," she added.

Image caption,
Royal Blood, The Streets and Supergrass are headlining the inner-city festival

In between the first two bands on stage, "Don't Take Me Home" is being sung by the crowd. There is spontaneous applause and people are hugging.

Tramlines' Timm Cleasby said the festival was grateful for the support the council gave them to allow it to go ahead.

"We've got to balance what we're doing with the positives against the risks, and doing it in a way that minimises the risk for everyone," he said.

Image caption,
Natasha Boulton (left) and Tiger Reid

For 20-year-old Natasha Boulton, the start of the festival coincides with her seeing her friends again.

"It's been hard not seeing anyone in so long," she said.

"In the back of my mind I still feel like I should be wearing a mask. It's hard to get used to it."

Natasha travelled to Sheffield with her friend Tiger Reid, who is also from Leeds.

"It feels equally strange and exciting because you're around so many people for the first time in so long," Tiger said.

"The amount of people that are so happy and smiling, it's brilliant. Euphoria is what it feels like, so happy."

To gain entry to the festival, music fans must provide either a negative test or have had two vaccine doses.

"We've done the negative tests and had my first vaccine dose, and I'm excited to get my second one," Natasha added.

Image caption,
Father and son duo Nigel and Matthew Hall

Doncaster father and son duo Nigel and Matthew Hall were at the site hours before music started with the event being a "breakthrough" moment for Nigel.

"I'm feeling a little bit of trepidation because we've been going out a little bit more, but nothing like this. So far I feel comfortable and glad to be back," 54-year-old Nigel said.

"We've been doing stuff differently and this is doing something that we used to do and after not doing it for so long has made me more risk-averse and I need to break out of that and I'll be doing that today."

Double-vaccinated Matthew went to drop-in sessions as soon as he could to help him feel safer now society has started to reopen.

"I can go places without having to worry about things, and I can enjoy myself for the summer," he said.

"Nice to go back to some normality but it's taught us a new way of life."

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