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BEHIND THE SCENES AT ON BLACKHEATH

OnBlackheath, the area’s biggest music festival featuring Massive Attack, Grace Jones and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, was devised by three great local minds, Tom Wates, Alex Wicks and Terry Felgate. The Resident settles in for a chat…

The line-up for OnBlackheath, the long-awaited festival due to grace the Heath from 13-14 September, is really something. The event, stuck on the back burner for a few years due to local concerns about disruption, plus the furore surrounding the 2012 Olympics, features Massive Attack, Grace Jones, Aloe Blacc, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Irish rockabilly queen Imelda May, Levellers and Deptford-bred Athlete.

The event, in partnership with John Lewis, also features live DJ sets from the likes of Gilles Peterson, a silent disco, street theatre, oodles to keep the kids happy and Gizzi Erksine cooking for revellers alongside Michelin-starred guest chefs such as Simon Hulstone and Richard Bainbridge. So where did it all come from?

‘I’ve always loved festivals, always loved music,’ said local organiser Tom Wates, a former teacher who invented the classroom-friendly Don’t Lean Back chair and previously brought Noa Noa to Blackheath Village. ‘A few years ago I was at V Festival with a friend and we thought it’d be a good idea to hold a festival on Blackheath.’

That friend was fellow organiser Alex Wicks, who lives in Lee, and together with Greenwich resident Terry Felgate, they brought the idea to life, working with legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith (‘we just phoned him and asked if he wanted to get involved in our festival’, said Tom). 

‘We’re all busy with work and our families and don’t want to go camping in a field for three days anymore, but we want that festival atmosphere and want our kids to experience it.

‘I’ve lived in the area for a long time and so have Alex and Terry. We’re best mates and we want to use the festival to express how we feel about Blackheath. There’s a lot of talent and musicians and great food, and we want everyone to enjoy it.’

Adult Day Ticket, £57.50 (under 16s £35); Adult Weekend Ticket, £99 (under 16s £60); under 5s, free. See Onblackheath.com

Local residents can save 20% on tickets for the Sunday session when buying in person from The Conservatoire (19-21 Lee Road, Blackheath SE3 9RQ) and The Greenwich Hotel (Catherine Grove, Greenwich SE10 8FR). These discounted tickets are £47 for adults and £27 for under 16s (under 12s go free). Limited availability.

The Greenwich Hotel is sponsoring the Village Stage, which features local talent including The Chris Holland All-Star Band and special guests including Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, as well as The Hi-Fi Sneakers and The Rude Vandals.

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