Alanya Simms spends a soggy Sunday at Slam Dunk (but loves it)

Cagoules aplenty, ankle-deep in mud, overpriced beer and the sound of teenage anthems – that’s right, it’s British festival season. Last weekend, the weather at alternative rock and emo festival, Slam Dunk, epitomised the phrase, “It’s grim up north.”

While attendees at Saturday’s southern event basked in sunshine, those up north were less fortunate on Sunday, with a storm inviting itself to the party transforming the once-glorious field awaiting 30,000 festival-goers into a mud pit.

Many took to social media to debate whether the event should have been cancelled due to the predicted storm, but I think it's a silent agreement among British festival-goers that the rain and mud is a part of the package to be expected when purchasing tickets. 

@ Georgina Hurdsfield Tinyraindropphotography
You Me At Six perform their final UK festival Image: @Tinyraindropphotography

Previous years have seen countless arguments against Temple Newsam being a suitable location, and I can see why. Come rain or shine, traversing hills for 12 hours between stages isn't fun for anyone. Add a couple of pints and deep mud into the mix, and getting around the field becomes nearly impossible, forcing many to miss out on artists at the other side of the field unless they were willing to slide down hills - a factor willingly embraced by some, less so by others. Pre-planned mud grids could have been beneficial.

This said, in defence of Slam Dunk, refunds were offered to those unable to attend, with the car park closing early in the day due to mud buildup and safety concerns for customers with accessibility needs, and in true to northern spirit, most attendees embraced the mud baths and carried on. Despite the storm, the decision to go ahead was the right one. The rain was the only fault of the day.

@soph Ditchfield7
Festival goers embrace the mud Image: @sophditchfield7

Drink prices might not have been friendly to our wallets (£7.50 for a pint – ouch), but the catering choices were spectacular for a smaller festival, including multiple vegan options - a rare find. We enjoyed vegetable rice, masala chips, and a loaded vegan hot dog – none of which left the usual aftertaste of grease that often comes from food truck fodder.

A notable mention goes to the dedicated low and no alcohol bar, a fantastic addition for those choosing a sober lifestyle, reflecting the event's superb hospitality. 

There was true excitement from myself to see some of the bands that shaped my teenage years on this year's line-up, with the likes of We The Kings and Against The Current taking me on a walk down memory lane. 

Slamdunk2024 26 May2024 @ Samcorphotos 01026
Slam Dunk 2024 @samcorpphotos

Fan favourites Pale WavesI Prevail, and All-American Rejects drew the biggest crowds, but headliners You Me At Six stole the show. Their emotional performance marked their final UK festival ahead of their farewell tour in early 2025. Lead vocalist Josh Franceschi reminisced about the band's early years, noting that Slam Dunk founder Ben Ray was instrumental in their initial success, signing their debut album, Take Off Your Colours under Slam Dunk Records. A true full-circle moment for the bands and fans alike, making You Me At Six the perfect choice to close this year's festival.

Slam Dunk is no Coachella. If you're looking for Instagram-worthy backdrops, extravagant outfits, and A-list artists, this isn't the festival for you. But for those seeking a throwback to their teenage years with nostalgic bands as well as a taste of the best upcoming artists, great atmosphere created by other attendees and staff, and you’re willing to embrace the British festival spirit in the mud, we recommend gearing up to attend this ever-growing independent music festival in 2025. 

As far as day festivals go - this one is up there with the best I have attended, from the music to the food to the crowd enthusiasm.

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