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Tramlines: the impact of events on Sheffield’s economy and parks

A crowd of people facing the camera with their hands in the air whilst they watch a band

Events bring millions to Sheffield’s economy, generate community pride and support the wellbeing of residents, according to a new report from Sheffield City Council that looks at the impact of events on the city, including Tramlines.   

It’s estimated that Tramlines brings a £3.8 million boost to Sheffield’s economy annually. As well as the festival at Hillsborough Park, which was attended by more than 40,000 people, more than 40 city centre venues took part in The Fringe at Tramlines in 2023. With thousands of people enjoying a free family-friendly event on Devonshire Green during the Fringe.

During September, the council’s Economic Development and Skills and Communities, Parks and Leisure Committees, will be discussing Tramlines festival, the benefits it brings to the city, the recovery of Hillsborough Park after this year’s wet weather and plans for future festivals.

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of the Economic Development and Skills Committee, said: “Tramlines is an incredible celebration of Sheffield’s musical heritage and emerging talent that attracts artists and fans from the city and beyond to enjoy a weekend of music and creativity.

“As well as putting on an incredible show, both in the city centre and Hillsborough Park, both events provide a welcome boost to the local economy. Tramlines fans spend money on hotels, food and drink and transport, whilst the events provide opportunities for local suppliers, create jobs and work placement opportunities, and helps provide an income to support the running of the city’s parks.”

Tramlines is a major event for Sheffield and has grown to be one of the biggest city-based festivals in the UK since it started in 2009. In that time, the festival has supported more than 200 local artists to play the festival, given 68 work placements to local students and raised £200,000 for local charities. Income generated from Tramlines has helped to fund improvements in Hillsborough Park including improvements to pathways.

As well as economic benefits, hosting events in Sheffield parks helps bring social and health benefits to the city as well. Smaller, neighbourhood events bring communities together and encourage more people to visit their local green spaces. With income made from these events going back into supporting Sheffield’s parks, to ensure more neighbourhoods have access to green space.

Fees from event organisers play an important role in helping the council to manage and maintain the more than 800 parks and green spaces in Sheffield. Income from fees contributes to maintaining and improving green spaces in the city. This includes sharing investment across parks which may be too small or unsuitable to host their own events but still bring a huge benefit to the community.

Councillor Richard Williams, Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Committee, said: Sheffield is one of the greenest cities in the UK and we are proud to have so many green spaces for residents to enjoy.

“The council’s budget has faced unprecedented cuts and there will be growing pressures in the years to come. Despite this, customer feedback shows an increase in satisfaction with the quality of Sheffield’s parks and academic research shows how important good quality green spaces are for residents’ wellbeing. Bringing events into our parks gives the council an opportunity to be more ambitious with Sheffield’s green spaces, improve parks for residents and unlock opportunities for local businesses.”

In 2023, the weather throughout Tramlines was incredibly wet, with seven inches of rain falling across the weekend – more than double the average for the time of year. Whilst previous Tramlines festivals experienced some rainfall and the ground held up, this summer far more rain fell than was forecast.

Despite preparing the ground before the festival and bringing in measures to protect the park during the event, the park was damaged and has required substantial repairs . Repairs have taken place during the summer and will be paid for by Tramlines. The park has reopened in sections to allow residents to enjoy the park as soon as possible. The café, multi-use games area, pump track and some grassed areas are now open to enjoy, whist Parkrun has also returned to the park.

Councillor Richard Williams, Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Committee, said: “Tramlines will remain at Hillsborough Park because it is the best venue for the festival in the city. The fee the festival pays to the council will continue to support maintenance and improvements to the park for the benefit of all users. Festival organisers are always responsible for the cost of works required to reinstate the park after the festival.

“I’d like to thank the local community for their patience as repairs take place, I know the damage caused by the weather conditions during the festival has had an impact on residents, and particularly families during the school holidays. The council will monitor progress to ensure that high quality and sustainable repairs are made in reasonable timeframes for the weather conditions and the park is opened up for use as soon as sections become ready. We will keep working with Tramlines to ensure this level of damage is avoided if extreme wet weather happens during the festival again.”

Updates on the progress of repairs to Hillsborough Park can be found on the Tramlines website. Find out more about council meetings on the council website.