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The History of Leeds Festival

When Reading Festival became so popular that it could no longer supply the demand for tickets, it was decided to spread the love to the North – and that’s where the history of Leeds festival begins!

Leeds had put on a few weekend free festivals in the mid-90s with some success so it was seen as the perfect location for the sister festival to Reading, and in 1999 the inaugural event was staged at Temple Newsam.

The First Leeds Festival

The logistics involved in staging two massive festivals to run at the same time over the August bank holiday weekend is pretty impressive, but when you realise that making it work involved moving the entire line-up from Reading to Leeds each day it seems doubly so!

Over the previous few years, Reading had changed its line-up policy from a pure rock festival to a more inclusive one, and the bill for ‘99 shows this with bands as diverse as Catatonia, Blur and The Chemical Brothers appearing alongside the more traditional rock bands like Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Pavement.

Early troubles

The first festival was a great success, and the publicity resulted in Reading growing in popularity over the coming years. Leeds, however, had some issues in the early 2000s with crowd trouble, but they were determined to make it as successful as Reading. Subsequently, a change of venue to Brahman Park alongside increased security got it back on track.

Growth and success

With the early problems largely behind it, Leeds Festival went from strength to strength over the next decade, in no small part down to the quality of the line-ups which included some of the biggest acts in the world of rock, indie, hip-hop and dance music.

This diversity has led to Leeds Festival becoming one of the biggest in the country, with a capacity of around 80,000!

Leeds Festival today

This year the festival will feature headliners Kendrick Lamar, Fall Out Boy and Kings of Leon, alongside some old favourites like Sum 41, who’re celebrating their 15th year in the music business – proof that this joint festival is evolving.

We’d love to hear from you over on our Twitter page if you have any great stories or memories to share from your experiences at the festival. After all, without your attendance there would be no history of Leeds Festival to report on!