Parklife 2018


Parklife is a festival which has grown year upon year, I’ve witnessed this first hand as I remember the days when it was held in Platt Fields with only a few thousand people and an up and coming band Everything Everything!

Fast forward to 2018, and I’m here at Heaton Park, a park I spent my childhood visiting and it’s transformed into an unrecognisable area, the amount of people flooding the arena is overwhelming. You can’t help but be caught up in the buzz.

I first enter the VIP section, an area which allows people to access private bars, food and luxury toilets with the chance to see exclusive DJs. I always say it’s worth spending the extra money, just for the facilities alone. This year they have a Sankeys Soap installed which is a Manchester throwback, in fact as I look around the whole festival has a Manchester vibe. Online it is said that Liam Gallagher has renamed the festival Parkalife in his honour and Sacha Lord (the creator) agreed with the change. Will we be seeing new signage next year?

I equip myself with wine and head to the main arena. Again, I’m amazed by the sheer size of the festival. A quick tour of the grounds is needed to get my bearings because these festivals are all about the prep work, find out who’s playing and where then try and fit them all in. Sometimes that’s not going to happen due to clashes and other times you get caught up in an act that you happen to walk past and it draws you in.

During my self-guided tour, I realise I’ve made a rookie mistake, sandals to a festival is never a good idea, so I head to one of the vintage stores and find a pair of Converse. Quickly I pay the friendly owner who assures me I’m not the only person to run in frantically then carry on.

The last stage I arrive at is the main stage, and you’d be forgiven for thinking some of the previous stops are main ones, this should give you an indication of the size!

The grassy field is filled with people sat down, and there’s a picnic type of vibe to my surroundings, I find a space and take a seat. Dermot Kennedy is playing; his beautiful Irish voice captures me, and it lends itself so well to this sunny day. You can’t ask for a better start. After the stress of travelling and queuing a time to chill is the way I like to go, the stage area is full, so it seems I’m not the only one. I start off today solo, this could be a challenge for anybody, but as I look around I’m not the only solo spectator, I love that. There are many negative preconceptions about the type of crowd Parklife attracts, online media draws attention to scantily dressed people on their way to the festival and comments can be brutal. Inside and amongst fellow music lovers there’s no hate, everyone is here to do their own thing and enjoy themselves. Kennedy finishes to a roaring crowd and some new fans for sure.

I’m tempted to stay in my spot but alas many other people are playing, I can’t stay in one place. Following a trail of people heading to The Valley, I sit down on the grassy hill to listen to Barely Legal: this time it’s not relaxing, it brings me up, if my mates were here right now I’d be dragging them into the stage area. For 3 pm on the first day, the crowd are well and truly excited.

Jessie Ware is starting on the main stage, she is my must see of the day, so I’m happy when my friends turn up as we then head over to see her. 3.45 pm is an early start for such a big act. The crowd gathering is a decent size and her set is beautiful with ‘Wild Moments’ being a personal highlight.

Following on from Ware, Sampha plays, keeping the vibe of the crowd on a similar level, everybody away from the central area is sitting on the grass with drinks and enjoying the songs. It doesn’t feel like a typical Manchester festival anymore, it feels like we’re abroad with weather like this.


When Lorde is announced we head into the middle of the crowd – one person in our group is a massive fan, and we decide to join in. It’s the first time I’m in the middle, and it feels like the festival is kicking into a different gear. Lorde is great, her vocals are impressive, and she shouts that she’s happy to be in Manchester, which we always like to hear.

It seems I’m not leaving the main stage anytime soon as the next band is N.E.R.D., I have been a fan of them since I was in high school, so it has to be done. I had the pleasure of seeing Pharrell at the One Love concert last year but seeing him in his band with a much more rock state is a game changer. Top hits like ‘She Wants to Move’ and ‘Rock Star’ get a good reception (myself included) with new songs added. Pharrell does say hello Parkland a few times, but we can forgive him because his set is epic and is one that will be my favourite for a long time to come. At the end of the set Pharrell invites some crowd members on stage, it’s clear he has an attachment to Manchester as he wanted this to be an ‘inclusive moment’. It looks a bit chaotic with fans trying to take selfies with Pharrell but security sort it out swiftly. We move on.

After a quick break we go on the Ferris wheel, the most expensive Ferris wheel it seems as it is £8 for a single ticket but it makes me I feel like a big kid. We head back to the main stage in time to watch The xx.

It’s hard to believe it’s their first time at Parklife as Jamie xx is such a regular, in fact, they tell the crowd it’s because of him that they’re playing tonight so it feels that little bit more special. They bring the first day of the festival to a perfect close. The sun is setting and their backdrop changes the atmosphere from a sunny day to a warm Summer’s night. This would be lost in a tent so the decision to have these on outside is a great choice.

This is only the first day, just the start of things to come.

Sunday starts with even bigger crowds rolling into the site, so much so that it seems the Afterlife parties haven’t slowed down the festival pace that the Saturday built up.

The day is a real girl power day for me even if it is the ‘Liam Gallagher day’ for most. I start off by seeing three solo female acts. Firstly, Mabel playing the ‘Sounds of the Near Future’ stage, this up and coming London star is making major waves in the music industry with her song writing and performances. The tent is so full I can barely get in, I start to wonder if she should be on the main stage. The crowd goes crazy for her hit songs ‘Fine Lines’ and ‘Finders Keepers’ which I can’t help but sing too.

The next female artist I catch is Raye, again it’s a packed-out show, but this time it’s the main stage. Could today be busier than yesterday? Raye bounces around the stage full of energy calling out for independent ladies to put their hands up and sings songs which are made to empower and they are received very well.

As I head past where I’d seen Mabel, the voice of Kelela catches my attention. I move towards the stage surprised to find a tent with only a 20% capacity – considering Mabel had a packed out show I really can’t get my head around it. Kelela’s voice is incredible I have no idea how I’ve not heard of her before, so I watch in awe and quickly add her name to my ‘must see again’ list. Another new act discovered!

I am keen to discover the VIP area a bit more today and my friend Sarah meets me there, we pick up a cheeky bottle of prosecco from a very nifty prosecco dispensing van and check out Sankey’s Soap. The first signs of rain are appearing making Sankey’s a great place for refuge. Complete with backing dancers and a few Oye Oye Oye’s we’re in good spirits.

Everything Everything are playing the main stage, so we make our way there, we don’t mind the rain because these guys are a treat to watch. They appear in their trademark jumpsuits like the good ol’ days and they look right at home. They say they’ve just arrived from the “other Manchester in Massachusetts”, but they prefer this one, the crowd goes wild. It seems they would travel from anywhere to be at Parklife, good on you lads! They sing their big hits such as ‘Regret’ and ‘Distant Past’ putting my festival experience at its peak.


Sarah requests to see Justice who are playing on the Hangar stage. The tent is so busy we have to force our way in, and just as I make peace with the fact that we might have to head back out we make it into the middle. It’s surprisingly roomy! Not sure why or how but we stay put and listen to the tunes. First, I’m overwhelmed by the design of the stage. Honestly, the effort the designers have put into each set this year surpasses any other. Quoting Sarah as we watch Justice, “2007 has made a comeback!” I’m reminded of past Warehouse Projects due to the size and energy of the crowd, and you have to remind yourself it’s only around 7 pm on a Sunday night!

The main stage is our final stop of the night, I’m not usually one to spend so much time in the central areas as I typically like smaller more intimate tents, but the line-up is insane, making it a must-go-to festival.

CHVRCHES play to a super soaked crowd, you know an act is worth watching when people aren’t bothered about the weather and carry on dancing.

And then it’s the act most people are here for, Liam Gallagher. He plays to a packed out main stage, a bigger crowd than any other and shows everybody how a headlining performer in his hometown can put on a show!

Skepta closes the Sunday with the reputation of Parklife only getting better. It is time Manchester had a major festival, and with this one being the biggest and best one out of the lot I can’t wait to see who’s playing next year!

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Studying BA (Hons) Design Futures at The University Of Salford hoping to move onto an MA in Social Media. In love with Manchester's music scene, i will never move!Best Gig - Massive Attack @ The Big Chill Festival 2010Best Album - Damien Rice 'O'Guilty Pleasure - B52's 'Love Shack' (Don't judge)