Wickham Festival on the move

Wickham Festival

Wickham Festival is moving home – but only a few hundred yards.

Wickham Festival - the new site
Wickham Festival – the new site

The popular long-running event is switching to a different site for this year’s festival from August 1-4 headlined by rock goddess Suzi Quatro, Curtis Stigers and the Levellers.

Winchester City Council have just approved the transfer to a new field which organisers hope will help them beat the mud. The new arena on the other side of Winchester Road is flatter and has much better drainage to improve access and the experience for festival-goers.

Organiser Peter Chegwyn said: “We now have 28 acres of flat and well-drained grassland for our arena with much better pedestrian and vehicle access than ever before. There will be no more long walks from campsites to the arena and no more slippery slopes to negotiate. And hopefully no more mud! Our new arena field is so much better in every way.

“There’s enough space on our new field for our new arena plus campervan and motorhome camping; accessible camping; camping with electric hook-ups; dog-friendly camping; and Festival glamping. Walking distances between campsites and arena are greatly reduced and are across flat ground. While tented camping will remain just across the road on the beautiful grassed fields at Westlands Farm we’ll have a new pedestrian route to also reduce walking distances between tented camping and the arena. And of course we will be keeping our two Big Tops so fans will be able to stay dry as they watch a range of fantastic artists. Aside from our main headliners we also have Tony Christie, Seth Lakeman, Ferocious Dog and our ever-popular old friends The Men They Couldn’t Hang plus many more.”

Organisers are hoping their efforts to improve access will encourage festival-goers to buy in advance to help safeguard the future of the event which has been running for 27 years.

Chegwyn added: “Fans may have seen on the television recently that it is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller festivals to survive. Our old friends at Towersey Festival have just announced that after 60 years of staging their event, they won’t be running next year. That is desperately sad but they are just one of 40 to announce they are having to cancel for 2025 due to ever-rising costs.

“We are battling on but Wickham Festival is not immune from the problems facing all independent festivals. Our costs have risen by over 40 per cent since Covid. We are proud of our independence, proud of the fact we’re not a ‘corporate’ festival, proud that we’re not dependent on the support of big business sponsors. We run Wickham on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis where every penny is spent on giving fans the best festival experience possible. But if Wickham is to survive past this summer and not go the same way as Towersey and many other festivals, we urgently need people to support us by buying tickets early.

“We know last year’s rain and mud plus the long walk from campsites to arena have dissuaded some people from returning but we have listened to fans’ feedback and acted on it by moving to a new site. We are hoping that will persuade people to check out the improvements we have made and see just how lovely our new arena field is compared to the old.

“The unique atmosphere will remain the same and we’ve even frozen ticket prices at the same level as last year despite ever-increasing costs. We don’t add booking fees and all day parking is free. All our Wickham Festival favourites will remain – two main stage Big Tops, a host of smaller venues, late night comedy, storytelling; dance displays, music workshops, a traditional crafts fayre; real ales festival and the usual wide range of attractions for children plus much more.”

Four-day tickets are currently on sale at £220 with Under 16’s admitted half price and Under 10’s paying just £10. Day tickets are also available starting at £60. A weekend camping pass starts at £35 and parking is free. See www.wickhamfestival.co.uk for more details.