Black Deer Festival – an introduction

Black Deer Festival – specialising in Americana and country music – is returning for its second year between June 21-23 in Royal Tunbridge Wells, but what does the festival fully entail? Here’s a full introduction from the festival themselves about it all and what to expect should you attend. 
What is Black Deer Festival?
Black Deer Festival is a three-day celebration of music, food and family – cultivating a community of spirit and independence where the lines between artists, supporters and promoters disappear. 
Heading into its second year,  Black Deer Festival is back and will be taking place across three days at Eridge Park in Royal Tunbridge Wells between June 21-23. The festival is a living and breathing demonstration of what Americana and country music can be and offers a soundtrack to an independent way of life across seven dedicated stages, each with the highest production values. You’ll also find live music scattered throughout Black Deer’s spectacular and unspoilt landscape, helping to set the perfect scene.
Its founders are no strangers to UK music festivals – having produced and directed much-loved events with musical legends like Bob Dylan, The Eagles and Neil Young (remember Hop Farm?) – and have a lifelong love affair with country music and the authentic Americana aesthetic.
You only have to read the story behind Haley’s Bar to understand the importance of this place in their hearts. This compelling blend of originality, experience and passion has shaped Black Deer into an exciting and emerging force on the UK festival scene and one in which families can take advantage of top-class production values, quality and comfortable accommodation and great food.
The music is from the top table, too. There are big names you’ll recognise – such as country icon Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers (Merle Haggard’s band); Aussie roots rockers John Butler Trio; The Mavericks celebrating their 30thanniversary; blues heroes Fantastic Negrito, The Marcus King Band and Larkin Poe; Texas troubadour Ryan Bingham; bluegrass boppers The Dead South; country punk Justin Townes Earle; alongside a who’s who of Americana musicians making waves on the country and roots circuit: Band Of Horses, The Staves, Neko Case, The Wandering Hearts and Yola. Legendary English song-writing hero Billy Bragg will also be at Black Deer, whilst a real coup has been pulled off in securing ‘Wild Rose’ star, Jessie Buckley, who’ll be performing songs from the hit country film’s big-selling soundtrack.
Black Deer welcomes children of all ages and offers families the chance to create memories that will last forever – kids can safely climb to the top of ancient oak trees, work together to help to build a wild west town or listen to stories around the campfire. Comfort is king at Black Deer and organisers have gone to great lengths to provide world class production facilities and top of the range accommodation offerings for locals and visitors alike: if you’re looking for luxury, try Fancy Camping; if you’re looking for value for money, try Pre-pitched Camping (the option to arrive with your weekend home ready and waiting in the general camping area).
The not-for-profit ‘Woodland Tribe’ bring their unique approach to outdoor adventure play to the Young Folk children’s area of the festival and this is the place where your children will make memories with their very own stage, dedicated to inspiring the next generation of musicians. Arts and craft workshops, guitar lessons, face painting, dressing-up tents… you name it, your kids will find it.

The festival also offers the very best in outdoor and smokehouse cooking – with expert demonstrations and competitive BBQ competitions taking place across the three-day event. Skilled masterclasses from celebrated chefs such as legendary US pit master Ray ‘Dr BBQ’ Lampe; Channel 4’s ‘River Cottage’ expert Gill Meller; BBC regular and ‘Guild of Food Writers’ Chair Genevieve Taylor; ‘UK BBQ Magazine’ Editor, Marcus Bawdon; ‘Caravan Restaurants’ Executive Chef, Matt Burgess; maker of probably the best charcoal in the world, Matt Williams; award-winning food and drink journalist and author, Melissa Cole; ‘Temper’ owner and chef, Neil Rankin; ‘Hunter Gather Cook’ founder and forager, Nick Weston; and UK BBQ pioneers, restaurateurs and authors Jon Finch and Ben Merrington will all treat you to more than just a glimpse of the good life.

If you’re looking to shop, Black Deer’s Mercantile area offers thoughtfully-crafted artisan wares for you to browse – but expect to part with your hard-earned cash for things such as authentic leather ware, denim, homewares, tools, original printed art, quality textiles and much more. Mercantile is where Black Deer pays homage to the cultural heritage of America, but also where contemporary artisans bring new perspectives and offer modern interpretations of classic designs. 
What they say about Black Deer…
“I am confident that we will be paying host to Black Deer for many years to come.” – The Marquess of Abergavenny, owner of Eridge Park.
‘Best New Festival on the Block’ – Association of Independent Festival Awards 2018
“Homely, friendly, well-organised and fun. The setting was so beautiful it took my breath away when I arrived.” – UK Festival Guide
“Black Deer was bold and creative.” – Americana UK
“An amazing weekend!” – Times of Tunbridge Wells
And from Black Deer’s audience (4.9 out of 5 Stars, Based on the opinion of 99 people who took the time to review our festival):
Really well thought out, lots for the children to do, great stages, too many choices of great acts!
What a great first year festival black deer was! Tonnes of top acts, some surprises to discover and those you already enjoyed. Add in the food selection and the whole experience was brilliant.
Black Deer offers music, food and fun for all the family – the three pillars of any award-winning, modern-day festival. Set in a location that is one of the best in England, Black Deer is a unique celebration of all the things that are at the heart of Americana and country music.
You can get tickets here.

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