Roll up, roll up: All you need to know about Sheffield’s Rock N Roll Circus 2023
Staged under a towering big top structure built specifically for Sheffield’s Don Valley Bowl, and featuring an array of artists and circus acts, Rock N Roll Circus is an intriguing festival to say the least. If the very best acts in rock, indie, pop, and electronica weren’t enough, the festival will also offer a mix of entertainment and interactive activities – everything from daring aerialists to introductory motorcycle lessons courtesy of Honda.
Chaotic and eclectic, Rock N Roll Circus promises to be an unforgettable festival experience. It is perhaps the only festival in existence where you can both take part in professional-led circus skills workshops and groove to Happy Mondays.
The festival organisers have said that, “home to an incredibly diverse music heritage, Sheffield continues to be one of the most vibrant cities in the UK for live music, pop, indie, dance stars and emerging acts. It also has a thriving creative scene and circus school is just one of those specialities. Rock N Roll Circus then, makes perfect sense in our genre-inclusive times.”
Rock n Roll Circus’ lineup is somehow both relatively small and wildly varied. On Friday, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds headline the big top, guaranteeing a crowd-pleasing mix of Oasis classics and contemporary psych-rock. Fellow Manchester legends Happy Mondays are to play alongside Noel Gallagher, shuffling the night along with their back catalogue of baggy grooves and Madchester spirit. It’s safe to say that Bez’s freaky dancing will be more than welcome in the circus. Friday will also see raucous sets from Wakefield alt-rockers The Cribs, the shoe-gazing charm of The Joy Formidable, and the Dublin-based UK festival circuit mainstay Somebody’s Child. Expect an evening of beloved rock ’n’ roll veterans, 00s indie disco, and contemporary up-and-comers.
Saturday sees Rotherham-born Rebecca Lucy Taylor, better known under the self-empowering moniker of Self Esteem, perform her biggest show to date. Both a hometown headline and the last chance to see Self Esteem live before Taylor begins her West-End career this autumn in Rebecca Frecknall’s Cabaret, the show is bound to be an emotional rollercoaster for Taylor and her audience. Self Esteem will undoubtedly deliver a dizzying headline set of sensual theatrics and provocative pop.
Also appearing on Saturday’s lineup are Confidence Man, an electronic pop group miraculously infiltrating mainstream pop charts and indie disco playlists in equal measure. Boasting blood-spurting choreography, Madonna-esque outfits and bottles of champagne to hand, Confidence Man knows how to throw a party on the festival stage. Natalie Imbruglia, Bimini, and Arctic Numpties complete the main stage lineup for a Saturday of cutting-edge art-pop and shameless fun.
Fans of dance won’t be disappointed with Sunday’s lineup. Headlined by the legendary Gatecrasher DJs and the staggering ensemble of Gatecrasher Classical, Sunday is littered with dance music royalty. The lineup features globally-acclaimed DJs such as Ferry Corsten, Ilan Bluestone, Ruben de Ronde, and Mark V. If that isn’t enough, Sheffield DJ legends Corey Mahoney and Simon Brown are set to spin records for the festival’s closing party, promising a long night of throwback dance hits and drunken raving. With recognisable, generation-crossing names from rock, pop, and dance, Rock N Roll Circus has something for everyone.
Rock N Roll Circus will also host a BBC Introducing Stage, designed to champion emerging artists from both Sheffield and from further afield in the UK. Looking to find your new favourite band to boast about to your friends when they make it big? Look no further than the burgeoning talent to be found across the weekend on the BBC Introducing stage.
Getting to the festival
If you’re travelling by car, head to the M1 motorway. Come off at junction 34 (Meadowhall), and follow signs for Sheffield A6178. After Attercliffe Common, it’s a straight road and the venue is only a mile from the M1. Sheffield Arena is on your left, take the second left onto Coleridge Road. You can find parking spaces available to buy here via Utilita Arena. The car parking spaces are right next to Don Valley Bowl.
There are a few options if you are travelling by tram. From Sheffield City Centre, catch the Yellow Route service to Meadowhall and get off at Arena/Olympic Legacy Park. From Meadowhall, take the Yellow Route service to Middlewood and get off at Arena/Olympic Legacy Park.
Alternatively, from Sheffield Station, catch the Blue or Purple Route service to Fitzalan Square and cross to the opposite platform. Then catch the Yellow Route service to Meadowhall and get off at Arena/Olympic Legacy Park. All-day tram travel is just £4.00.
Gates open on Friday at 4pm, whilst gates open on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. The event closes at 11pm, and last entry to the site is 9pm. There is a box office located near the entrance, opening an hour before the doors open and closing at 9pm each night.
In short, it comes down to a few questions. Fancy embodying the carnivalesque? Or watching fire-eaters and contortionist acrobats? Or catching Self Esteem’s homecoming headline triumph? Or all of these three things at once? If the answer to these questions is yes, then get tickets here for Rock N Roll Circus. Sheffield has never seen anything quite like it.
NB: Quotes are taken from the press release.