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  • Durham OnAir

Northern Kin Festival campers turned away & cars stuck in mud at Ushaw House.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023


Photo Credit: @fecklessquine on Twitter

Northern Kin festival, which is taking place this weekend at Ushaw House & Gardens in West Durham, has started with chaos and disappointment as campers were turned away from the site, and vehicles were stuck in thick mud.


The festival has taken place previously at Ushaw House & Gardens in September 2022, having been held in Stanhope in previous years.


The festival, which is taking place over this May bank holiday weekend, sees many big acts take to numerous stages. Over 40 acts including Jethro Tull, Hawkwind, Beth Orton, Sandi Thom and Lindisfarne are all due to perform at the site in Ushaw Moor, not far from Nevilles Cross.


Despite the festival having previously used the site, the first day of the festival (Friday 28th April) has been marred by difficulties including traffic jams, vehicles getting stuck in mud and long queues. Some audience members complained of long queues to collect wrist bands, with punters, including those with disabilities, having to wait over an hour to access the site.


The Northern Kin Festival Facebook page was flooded with angry comments, asking why access to the site was only opened at 6pm (unconfirmed). Many people have commented on the Facebook page requesting a refund.


There were long queues around Ushaw Moor and Nevilles cross as difficult access to the site caused log jammed traffic. One attendee told Durham OnAir they left Durham at 4pm, and were not able to access the arena (festival area) until 8:30pm, as a result they missed two acts they were hoping to see.


Other people who were planning to camp on site were allegedly being turned away due to the camp site "being full", despite the attendees having purchased camping tickets.


Cars were stuck in the mud on site, with a single tractor being used to tow cars out of the festival car parks according to witnesses. Cars were still waiting to be assisted off site at 12:30am on Saturday 29th April, having been waiting for hours.


Ticket holders who were driving 4x4 vehicles were told to "Keep going and just give it a go" by stewards, with traffic that was able to move "weaving in and out of stranded cars" according to one witness.


Other festival goers abandoned their plans and headed home, after waiting for over three hours to access the festival site. Some had traveled as far as Scotland.


Shuttle busses that had been provided by the festival were unable to ferry people between campsites and the festival, due to the coaches not being able to climb Langley Park bank. There is an unconfirmed report of passengers leaving the bus to "push it up the hill".


One audience member called Rhianne, told Durham OnAir they were stuck in the mud and still waiting for assistance at 12:30am. They said "It’s a nightmare, been stuck for 3 hours now. Stewards and security seem to not know anything, you ask a question and they cannot give any answers. We just want to go home, I have contacted them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, spoke to stewards and security don’t know what else to do we are completely stuck here"

"We have tickets for every day so unsure whether we plan to come tomorrow or Sunday, if we do we will not be driving for sure."


Rhianne and her party were finally towed from the site by a tractor at around 2:15am on Saturday 29th April.


Ushaw House and Gardens have released the following statement on Twitter:


"Here at Ushaw, we really do appreciate and share your frustrations at the local traffic Issues caused by Northern Kin Festival. Whilst we are not the festival organisers and the stewards are not employed by Ushaw, we recognise our responsibility as the land owner.

The Durham County Council Safety Advisory Group has approved the event manual for the festival which includes traffic management plans and access routes also approved by Durham Constabulary. It clearly has not worked as smoothly as we'd all have hoped.

We intend to fully investigate the causes of the traffic problems and work with the festival organisers to ensure such issues are not repeated. Once again, we're really sorry for any inconvenience which has been caused to you."


The festival continues across the weekend. Northern Kin Festival have been contacted for comment.

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