Manchester is known for it’s incredible music scene, so there’s no surprise that it’s home to one of the best festivals in Europe. Born in 2010 and supported by The Warehouse Project, the festival takes over Heaton Park for two days and attracts a crowd of 80, 0000. Parklife has a massive variety of acts – the best I’ve ever seen on a festival line up – as well as afterparties around the city all weekend. The arena has cool cocktails bars, carnival rides, every kind of food you can imagine to come out of a van and enough glitter and hair braiding stations to put Claire’s Accessories out of business. Here’s how to find hidden stages and save money when you’re there, with some survival tips thrown in.
Five reasons to go to Parklife Festival
The line up is unreal
Near to 100 different acts across 7 main stages, there is definitely something for everyone. The Warehouse Project had their own stage, Temple stage was dedicated to garage, grime and London hip hop with the other stages supported house, pop, techno, upcoming new talent and established legends like Frank Ocean. The highlights of the festival for me were The Martinez Brothers and Dusky, with the surprise star (there’s always one act that takes you by surprise and blows you away) being Joris Voorn, who absolutely smashed it on the SmirnoffHouse stage, here’s a link to his set from the day.
We hadn’t planned to do any Afterlife parties but I’m so glad we did! We saw Jamie Jones, Solardo and Jesse Calosso at the Albert Hall; a beautiful old venue in the heart of Manchester and this party was actually better than the day (see the survival kit section below for why this was). If you’re more organised than we were, you can pick from six different after parties each night, each holding their own with strong lineups. The Afterlife parties go on sale a few weeks before the festival and you can get tickets online or at the merchandise stalls in the festival arena, on the day, like we did. Have a look at the ‘how to save money at Parklife’ section below for tips on after party tickets.
It’s a non-camping festival
Thank god. If you would rather sleep indoors on a mattress rather than outside with all the bugs then this will be a bonus for you too.
It’s good value for money
Our tickets were £110 (including postage and booking fees) for the weekend and considering how many people we managed to see in two days (De La Swing, Hannah Wants, Lauren Lo Sung, Chaka Kahn, Black Madonna, HUNEE, Maya Jane Coles, Artwork, Dusky, Joe Goddard, Joris Voorn, The Martinez Brothers, Patrick Topping, Frank Ocean……the list goes on), that’s really amazing value for money. Even if you just catch 15 minutes of someone in the passing, you feel like you’ve seen loads of different sets.
The festival arena has loads of bars
Seriously, we never had to wait longer than about five minutes for a drink. There are loads of bars to choose from including cocktail and Smirnoff bars, and the queuing system is super organised. Drinks are £5 each and you can buy as many as you like at one time.
Discover Parklife’s hidden festival stages
I wish we had read the line up lanyard properly on day 1! The smaller stages that are detailed at the back of line up were some of the best of the entire weekend! Typical me, not reading things properly. Here they are so you don’t miss out…….
Such a cute stage! Set in front of Roman like old buildings with a Smirnoff bar at each side of the dance area, this stage was small, intimate and my favourite. The sound system here also sounded better for some reason. Maybe because we were closer to the speakers than some of the other stages, I’m not sure, but the audio quality was much clearer and sharper than bigger stages like the Hanger.
Called Ape and Metropolis on day one and really near the Smirnoff stage. This stage is partly covered, so a good shout if it starts to rain because it’s also quieter than other covered stages. I think it was quieter because people struggled to find it. We stumbled across it on day two. There is a festival map…….but i think the person who made it was having a laugh……either that or we were awful at navigating.
This was the cutest thing ever, it looks like a wooden shack from the outside and has Desperado written right across it. The clubhouse is near the Temple stage. On day one we thought it was some kind of beer bar, but on day two we realised it was a banging disco hut. Get there early to avoid the one-in-one-out que though.
Ultra Power Tree
Rave whilst you charge your phone! What a genius idea. We passed this and stopped for a bit because the tunes were so good, there were about 5 different DJ’s each day on the line up, jammin’ in the tree like…… Think Tarzan meets the Mambo Brothers ?.
There is also a Pepsi Max silent disco somewhere but we didn’t manage to find it……….maybe because it was too quiet……..ha.
How to save money at Parklife festival
- Get half price afterlife ticket bands from the merchandise stands on day 1 when you buy the line up lanyard
- Save on a travel pass and get an air b n b or hotel within walking distance. Our air b n b was perfect and was way cheaper than the hotels
- Book your accommodation before the line up is announced on a free cancellation rate. The room rates will be way cheaper and you’ve not lost anything if you change your mind
- Use Uber. Uber saves my life as soon as I go outside Scotland. We got one to the arena every day and into town for the after parties
Parklife survival kit
Take these to sit down on if it’s wet, there’s no covered seating in the arena so after a good few hours of solid dancing, walking or standing, you will be really glad of a rest.
Unfortunately we got rain on the first day, which meant that after a couple of hours, the arena was a total mud bath and no one could sit down anywhere. With so much people traffic milling around, it made for a very busy festival experience and as you can imagine, the covered tents were absolutely jam packed.
80, 000 people standing, dancing or walking all at once is full-on. Our second day was much better though, the festival had put bark down on the ground so it was dry and people could sit down. What a difference this made, you could move in the tents and walk about without fighting through crowds. It’s a British Festival so there’s always a gamble with the weather and it’s amazing how much of a difference sunshine makes to the overall vibe and experience of the festival. I wish we’d had two days like our second day, but I’d still do it all again in a flash.
Being wind and water proof is absolutely essential. Even If it doesn’t rain, it gets really cold after about 7pm – there’s only a couple of stages that are fully covered tents. You will be so glad of a jumper, especially on the walk home.
Wipes and tissues
The trips to the portaloo’s can be pretty ferosh – you need these to survive.
Save your sneaks for the sun! If we hadn’t worn our wellies we would have had to give up after a couple of hours on day one – it would have been mission impossible without them. Even if it doesn’t rain, wellies are a good idea – the foot fall makes it muddy regardless.
Even if there is no sun, people wear these. I tend not to wear sunglasses when I’m in a club, tent or anywhere that doesn’t have sun because I think you look like a twat…..…But for everyone who likes to hide behind their shades, feel free, others do.
What I didn’t like about Parklife
I think that VIP should be banned from every techno and house event on the planet! I feel quite strongly about that. In my view, VIP goes against what house music stands for in the first place and divides people unnecessarily.
I was disappointed on our second night when we went to the Armand Van Helden and Eric Prydz Afterlife party; the entire upstairs of the Albert Hall was VIP only. This was a massive waste of space and meant that the people on dance floor downstairs were really squished.
Having said that, poor Parklife has got the brunt of my VIP vendetta here and it’s not just Parklife that has VIP, I understand that festival and club operators need to make money. Interestingly, Defected record label has a new tagline which is – “In our house we are all equal”………it will be interesting to see if their resident night at Eden in Ibiza has VIP………..
If you love festivals then check out my 10 reasons to go to Hideout Festival in Croatia.
Parklife should 100% be on your festival bucket list, if it’s not already there or ticked off.