Wildfire tickets sold like hot cakes!
Wildfire founder Dave Ritchie was determined not to pull the plug on this year’s Wildfire Festival in Wanlockhead.
The Lesmahagow electrician instead had a light-bulb moment – to plan it a month later in the hopes that restrictions would ease.
And it looks like his gamble has paid off, with 32 bands already announced for this year’s event – and every single one of the 250 tickets now sold!
Having had to cancel the event last year, Dave is delighted to be forging ahead in 2021 with the highest festival in the UK.
Wildfire moved in 2019 to Wanlockhead, giving the event a new tagline – the family festival for rockers with altitude!
Unfortunately, Covid-19 put paid to the fun last year and numbers will be greatly reduced this year.
However, Dave has suffered setbacks in the past and is determined that nothing will stand in the way of a much bigger affair in 2022 – when Wildfire will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
He said: “We’ve re-shaped the event this year so it is fully outdoors, socially-spaced and limited on numbers so people can enjoy the magic of live music but in a safe, friendly and supportive way.
“Despite having to limit numbers to 250, I felt it was important to still go ahead this year.
"The grassroots scene that is so close to my heart has suffered greatly and I’m keen to help as many bands as I can get back on their feet.
“Wildfire will be part of the healing and recovery process, as we re-emerge from months of lockdown.
"Most importantly, though, music fans need that chance to re-connect and see each other again in a welcoming and safe environment.
“The sound of recorded music helped many people cope with the long days of home isolation and now it’s time for the magic of live music to lift spirits and help people to socially re-connect.”
It was a canny decision moving the festival from June to July – this year’s event is running from Friday, July 30, to Sunday, August 1.
Not only did that give the government more time to relax restrictions and see more people vaccinated but it also ties in nicely with the English bank holiday.
And the nights are darker too, which has always been a bugbear for Dave with the June event.
He explained: “The guys who do our sound and lighting are some of the best in the business – they do all the big outdoor festivals, including Glastonbury.
"Unfortunately, by holding the event in June, no-one really got to see their exceptional work as it was still light when the headliners took to the stage. This year, people will be able to see their handiwork because it will be getting dark at that time.
"It’s always been something that’s niggled at me so it will be nice this year to be able to see the full lighting effects.
"A lot of the guys who attend Wildfire every year come up from England so staging it over the Bank Holiday weekend is ideal for them too. The fact the tickets are already sold out will tell you something!
"I’m going to see how it pans out this year but I think we may move it permanently to the last weekend in July.”
As we’re speaking, Dave is sitting in a hotel room in Bournemouth – getting ready to scope out new talent for next year’s event.
It will be the 10th anniversary year, albeit only the eighth staging of Wildfire – the pandemic hasn’t been its only hiccup with several moves in its short lifespan.
However, one thing has remained constant – Dave’s passion for the event and his eagerness to showcase some of the best grassroots and rising bands across the country.
He has also been warmly welcomed by the villagers in Wanlockhead, who are keen to see the festival remain in its new home.
He added: “They have been tremendous in their support, bearing in mind it’s in the heart of the village and they can hear everything that’s going on.
"Sadly, this year, we won’t be able to have indoor gigs at the Wanlockhead Inn but people have still been really supportive.
“Accommodation throughout Wanlockhead and the surrounding area is now fully-booked.
"In 2019, the wee shop and mining museum were also jam-packed with visitors so it’s a great way to put the village on the map.
"The feedback in our first year was excellent and there’s a bit of a buzz that we’re finally back.
"I’d like to thank everyone in Wanlockhead for their support and we hope to be back, bigger and better mind you, in 2022.”
The last 15-months have been catastrophic for the grassroots scene – most bands have been unable to play, musicians have struggled to put food on the table and many venues have faced closure. Wildfire hopes to help in the recovery.
Welsh rockers Florence Black will headline Friday with As Sirens Fall; Trucker Diablo will headline Saturday with Scarlet Rebels in support role and Scottish artist Jason Sweeney will close the weekend on Sunday with Revival Black as guests.
To keep up with all the Wildfire news, visit www.wildfirefestival.co.uk.