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What's it like to go to Tramlines alone?

Kate Evans made a last-minute decision to go to Tramlines on her own. This is her diary of the soggy weekend. 

A crowd of people in front of a large outdoor stage.

Tramlines 2023

Kate Evans

An impulse purchase of one of the last Tramlines weekend tickets was my way of dealing with a series of plans falling through this summer. I thought that it would be nice to enjoy the festival properly and do something on my own.

Excitedly, I told my friends and family and got an oddly muted response. I realised that their hesitancy was about a woman going on their own. I tried to ignore it but this niggle got to me, meaning that I trundled to the site feeling slightly downbeat.

Friday

Unlike events with friends, I found I was really unwilling to change any plans I made. Not feeling as if it was worth making changes meant I missed some acts I would have liked to see.

While getting my bearings, I spotted banners for the UN Women’s Safe Space scheme. Although I never felt threatened over the weekend, this felt like a valuable offer and those volunteers wearing pink shirts made me feel reassured.

Part of this was the hyper-awareness that comes with being on your own and not drinking. The other useful source was the Samaritan’s talking volunteers camped out by T’Other stage.

Tiredness got the better of me and I left early in Richard Ashcroft’s set. I was disappointed but pleased that, unlike in the past, I could make this decision and not feel guilty.

After some confusion, I ended up walking back, which was uneasy at points but luckily plenty of people were around. I decided to write down the site's “Walk Home Volunteer” number on Saturday.

A crowd on a muddy park field.

Muddy Tramlines 2023

Kate Evans

Saturday

In my four layers of clothing (to avoid the bag restrictions) I joined the bus determined to enjoy the full day. I sat on the top deck surrounded by groups strategising or adding glitter. A pang of loneliness that I hadn’t felt on the Friday, because of tiredness, crept over me. I put headphones on to drown out the thoughts.

Once on site, I initially enjoyed the anonymity of the crowd but found that throughout the day, all I wanted to do was share the experience. The longest chat I had was with someone at the Everly Pregnant Brothers because I had spotted the McFly equipment on the stage and needed to share my Poirot moment.

I wanted to do more of this but felt awkward. I ended up messaging friends to have the shared experiences I craved. It slightly took me out of the moment but it stopped me feeling as anxious.

After a few hours, I felt overwhelmed and took a break on some hay bales.

The freedom to choose when to have breaks and which acts to see was the main benefit of being on my own (heavy metal Bee Gees are an oddly hard sell!) and meant that I stayed most of the day.

This reminded me that the beauty of festivals is always that you can see and do things you never would have considered.

I wouldn’t have ever paid to see McFly but they were great!

Sunday

I ended up in the queue quite early to stop me cancelling the day by getting too settled in the house. Having others around can often provide that little boost to get you to do things but luckily the promise of The Zutons did that for me.

The queue made me feel judged for being alone but this was less painful than Saturday; I was either more confident or too wet to care.

I spent most of the time between acts trying to keep warm and avoiding mud pools full of enthusiastic people. I was a bit grumpy but wanted to see the final acts.

The crowds were much thinner on Sunday and I spotted more people seemingly on their own; all looked masculine.

The only time I felt trapped was watching the Beths in the Leadmill tent, which was much busier.

I kept looking for reassurance in the crowd.

It wasn’t anyone's fault, I was just surrounded by bigger people pushing forwards.

This meant the rain and space was a relief when I joined Paul Heaton’s set. I looked at people singing and mud dancing and it made me feel happy. I wanted to join in but instead video called my mum.

On the tram, the drenched festival-goers were singing “Supertram of Love” (to the tune of Caravan of Love), making me feel joyous despite the shivering. It made me reflect and appreciate the lovely experience this whim had given me.

I’m not in a rush to do Tramlines alone again but I would be more confident doing so if I did. I would know to embrace the flexibility and give myself permission to treat the event like a group holiday to make sure I got the full benefit.

I hope that others could do this on their own and get as much if not more out of their time.

In the future, I feel confident that I could ignore those niggling worries and enjoy the moment.

by Kate Evans (she/her)
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