In 2018, country music and Americana artists will have a new outdoor UK festival destination, when Black Deer Festival takes place in East Sussex, England, from July 20-22.
The three-day festival will take place on the grounds of one of Britain’s oldest deer parks, Eridge Park in East Sussex. The 3,000-acre estate is surrounded by woodlands, open lakes, rolling hills, and is conveniently located a mere 50 minutes from London by train.
Entertee Events, led by Gill Tee and Deborah Shilling, producers of the 100,000-capacity Party In The Park at London’s Hyde Park as well as the Hop Farm Festival in Kent, England, will oversee the Black Deer Festival. Entertee clients include Live Nation and AEG. Tee and Shilling, along with Colin Lloyd, who oversees financing for the endeavor, are in Nashville this week, talking up the festival with agents, organizations and managers, and are continuing to book artists for the event. They have been working on the festival for the past year.
“To give proper homage to Nashville, we had to come here,” Lloyd tells MusicRow.
The Black Deer Festival will host nearly 50 artist performances across five stages, offering a mix of country, Americana, and UK-based country artists. Headliners will be announced at a later date.
Lloyd estimates 10,000 attendees for Black Deer’s first year, though he says there is room to grow the festival up to 30,000 attendees.
“Everyone is getting exciting about it,” Lloyd says. “The whole country genre is right on the cusp of making a huge breakthrough in the UK market.”
He also took inspiration from the success of the Country Music Association’s C2C: Country 2 Country Festival, though he notes a key difference between the two: While C2C is an arena festival, Black Deer will be an outdoor festival. Other major country music draws in the area include the recently-announced Country Music Week, a series of indoor concerts slated for October 2017, from the same organizers as the C2C: Country 2 Country Festival.
Food will also be an important part of the festival. Lloyd says there are plans to include custom fare from UK chefs. “We want to bring interesting food, not the normal fried and packaged foods. We want it to be more genuine.”
The five stages will include a songwriter’s stage and a children’s stage. “While here in Nashville, we hope to experience the Bluebird Café and we visited Whiskey Jam. I love the idea of bringing those ideas to our festival,” Lloyd says.
“It will be a family-friendly event, we think family is very important as well, with camping and ‘glamping’ and all the things that go with it. But we want to make it a bit edgy. It’s not just country music, but a bit edgier country as well which is where we think the UK market is at.”
Data shows the UK market is ripe for more country music performances. Country music is one of the fastest-growing genres in the UK. 30 million concertgoers attended a music festival in the UK in 2015. There are more than 1,000 annual commercial music festivals held in the UK annually.
“There’s just a wonderful array of fantastic talent in [Nashville] and we hope to encourage some of them to come to the UK and enjoy one of the most beautiful parts of the world,” Lloyd says. “We want to give the artists the best time of their lives. We want them to go home and say, ‘That was fantastic. Let’s go back.’”
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