Black Deer Festival

Interview: The Organisers of Black Deer Festival talk this years event, Government Guidelines, how the last year has been and more

This last year has been very tough for everyone. We have lost so many people and it is utterly heartbreaking. Life hasn’t been what we are used to, we haven’t seen family or friends, many have lost jobs and of course hospitality has been put aside to reduce the spread of the virus as well as many other businesses!

As well as the desperation of seeing family and friends many have missed live events too. It has been necessary to not have them though, as sad as that is and we are in full support of only going back to live music etc when it is safe to do so and we are happy to wait and have been happy to wait . However, with the government guidelines and the vaccines going out hopefully we can in just a few months and if so, then Black Deer festival may well be one of the first that will be going ahead. We can’t think of a better place to start!

However, we have our concerns of course and many will. We are well within our rights to feel that way. For us, we are concerned about capacity for one. What we don’t want is to suddenly go back to full crowds, no masks, no distancing, careless behaviour and more. With a reduced capacity hopefully things can be safe and fun but it is down to the individual to behave as well as organising a safe environment.

Will it be a case of attendees having to have the vaccine before they go or everyone being tested too? This is such a tough subject and we don’t really know how it will work but we do think outside events are the best way to start before opening venues and we have always found Black Deer to be a place of safety and respect anyway so all should be good. Black Deer isn’t Glastonbury or any other major event festival, it is independent and small in comparison so if we want to start somewhere, it’s Black Deer.

We thought we would ask the organisers of Black Deer a little bit about getting Black Deer ready and making it safe and just how this last year has been for them. We also asked about what to look forward to etc because of course, we need to hear about all the great things they have in store for us.

If you want to attend this years event then tickets can be bought here

Firstly I want to say a massive thank you for putting together such a great line up after what has been a terrible year. For us who have never organised an event, let alone a festival, just how (lack of a better word) bad was it when the first news hit back in 2020 that no live events were allowed?


It was awful for the entire live music and events industry. We still haven’t gotten over how hard 2020 was for everyone… has anyone? In times of difficulty, communities tend to come together, and we remain massively impressed and inspired by the people we work with and alongside. 


What are the realities behind that in terms of insurance, finances and well let’s face it, stress?


Some members of our team have been personally affected by the pandemic and have seen first-hand the incredible work and sacrifices made by so many, so that was always our first point of concern and stress.  


How about the fans? They seem to have been very supportive this past year which must be such a relief? You of course will always have people who cannot make the rescheduled event which is totally understandable but it must have been incredibly helpful to have people keep their tickets for when it could go ahead again?


We put on a festival, but our community has built Black Deer. Thanks to the journey we’ve all been on together, they’ve made Black Deer what it is and, what we always wanted it to be – a passionate community with a shared love of Americana. But more than that, a community accessible to all. A community providing opportunities to all. And a community inspiring to all.


Apart from working hard to keep this event going, how have you all been this past year? What have you been doing other than sorting Black Deer to keep you going?


Repositioning Black Deer 2021 is a full-time job, we work around the clock. Listening to the very best in Americana and country music has also helped and saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the special community of NHS staff, key workers, volunteers and everyone else out there on the frontline protecting us and helping to keep the UK functioning through these tough times. 


What are you most excited about when the event starts? I can’t imagine it will be a relaxing weekend for you but with everything being postponed and with realising how many things we take for granted, what will be the part that will make you the most emotional? The music, the fans experience? 


We are an independent festival swimming in a sea of giants, and we have to make the right decisions… it’ll all be worthwhile when we see those happy faces coming through the gates into the deer park. It is bound to be an emotional experience for many – for us as a close knit team, for our artists and their crews back doing what they do best, for our suppliers, vendors and of course our audience – it will essentially be the first opportunity for us all to enjoy live music again after so long. 



What can we expect this year in terms of having to change things a bit due to Covid-19? What measures have you in place? Will it be a reduced capacity? Will there be less vendors? Less people allowed in the stage areas? Seating? Sanitising stations? Spaces between tents? More toilets etc?


Our absolute priority is the safety and wellbeing of everyone on site. We will do whatever we have to in order to look after everyone’s welfare and follow the latest Government guidelines and stipulations relevant from June 21st


How about toilets ?Will you have perhaps posh loos as they call them at festivals? Ones you have a wristband for and pay more for but get cleaned after every use? Will there also be more cleaning stations (sinks) around?


See above


Fans have asked – Will there be less people who can attend on Thursday to set up camp?


We don’t see any reason to restrict entry on Thursday. 


What about cashless? Will it be a cashless weekend?


It will, just like 2019. We debuted cashless then and it worked well. We’ll be announcing details soon.


Will attendees need to be tested, vaccinated and have masks over the weekend?


As above, whatever measures we need to meet in order to put on a safe festival in line with Government guidelines will be adhered to. 


What about first aid? The year I went (first year) you had an excellent first aid tent in place who were incredible 


Absolutely, all will be in place.


How about stewards/security? Is that an external firm or can fans volunteer as a steward?


Anyone interested in various aspects of the festival can show their interest to volunteer here  Become a volunteer at the Black Deer Festival of Americana & Country


What can we expect in terms of family fun? Will there still be the kids area where you had such things as craft making? Fun area such as axe throwing or will that have to be scrapped so to speak? 

Young Folk is a dedicated area for families to enjoy and experience craft, music lessons and other skills together and there’ll be many looking forward to welcoming Woodland Tribe back for 2021. Further exciting activities will be revealed soon, so keep an eye on our website, socials or better yet, sign up to our newsletter to hear as soon those new additions are announced. 


How about the cook outs? I hope this goes ahead?


The wonderful Jon Finch and Ben Merrington will be back to curate the Live Fire arena with a fantastic line up of expert demos featuring master craftsmen and industry leading live fire chefs


In 2019 we introduced the Sunday Gospel Brunch which brought the house down, so plans are afoot for another edition of great food and righteous music to lift the soul.


How about the after shows? Will they likely happen or due to social distancing will it be a no?


Entertainment will continue until the usual curfews within the arena as in previous years. Which after show did you go to? Ha ha. 

And what can we do as attendees to make the weekend a success? After all it’s not just down to you to be careful but all of us too! How would you like attendees to keep the weekend a safe place?


How can attendees help to sell the tickets? I hear there is an ambassador system in place?


All we ask is for our lovely attendees to adhere to all guidelines that we may have to put in place for the good of everyone. 


For details on our ambassador programme please click here – Rep Sales – Black Deer Festival (


What vendors can we expect? 


A fantastic array of the finest street food traders out there. 


Fans are asking about the Magic Teapot?


And why wouldn’t they! As soon as you take a seat at The Magic Teapot you feel part of the brew crew – there’s a great atmosphere with friendly musicians on acoustic instruments, fire keepers stoking the sustainable and locally sourced log fire and tea makers offering a fresh brew in real mugs.  An around the clock warm welcome guaranteed.


And music, who are you most excited about?


The Belfast Cowboy Van Morrison, Saving Grace who are rock superstar Robert Plant’s new band with Suzi Dian, the talented Imelda May and Jade Bird, to the soul soaked Jordan MacKampa will all still perform in our wild and spectacular Americana playground – and we’re so excited that they’ll now be joined by Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Ward Thomas, The London Gospel Choir interpreting Paul Simon’s seminal Graceland, Talisk, Emily Barker, Lady Nade, Arkansas’ Dylan Earl and Black Deer favourite Irish Mythen plus a whole host of already-announced artisans from the top table of roots music in the UK and beyond. 


Tell us about the songwriter sessions planned?


You’re going to want to make room in your weekend schedule for this rare experience of authentic storytelling… our  lips are sealed for now!


Are there any surprises up your sleeves?


Always, you’ll just have to keep your eyes and ears peeled!


Is there anything else you would like to add at all?


Just a huge thank you to this brilliant community we are so humble to be part of – for supporting and sticking with us. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Black Deer. 


One more thing… why did you call it Black Deer?


Eridge Park is the oldest deer park in England. On our first site visit we spotted a single black deer within a herd – Gill, my business partner and co-founder and I thought it sounded perfect for the festival. 


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