Summer Sundae Weekender


As the tenth anniversary of DeMontfort Hall’s Summer Sundae Weekender approaches, Faux’s Paul Cook looks back on the festival’s history and what Summer Sundae 2010 holds in store, speaking with Summer Sundae organiser Rob Challice.

Back in 2001 The Summer Sundae Weekender began as a one-day, two-stage boutique festival day out. Year-on-year the popularity of the festival has grown and so too have the amount of acts and the number of fanatical festival-goers.

Summer Sundae has enjoyed consistent critical and public praise for being a family friendly, value-for-money weekend of live music and entertainment. Attacking some of the very best music over the years has helped the festival establish itself as one of the best places to see the top musicians in intimate environment.

Bands who have graced the stages at the Summer Sundae Weekender include Belle and Sebastian, Elbow, Gomez and helped launch the career of a fresh-faced Jamie T. 2010 promises to be packed full of variety and eclecticism with Seasick Steve, Mumford and Sons and Tinchy Stryder taking to the main stage to headline the three night event.

With recent festival appearances for all three going down exceptionally well, the Summer Sundae main stage looks set to continue its value-for-money aesthetic and high quality musical entertainment.

The musical extravaganza won’t stop there either as dozens of top quality new and established acts will grace the stages at this year’s Summer Sundae Weekender. Highlights of the vast lineup of acts this year include melancholic sounds of Local Natives, the mellow acoustics of Turin Brakes and the anthemic, angular tunes of The Sunshine Underground. Other must-see acts include the fantastic Fanfarlo, the twee pop of Los Campesinos! and the pop-rock stylings of The Futureheads.

To find out more about the festival and the ethos behind it i sat down for a chat with the founder Rob Challice.

It’s the tenth anniversary of Summer Sundae Weekender this year, how do you think the festival has changed or stayed the same over the years?

It’s grown from a 1-day event with no camping and only 2 stages to the 5 stage weekend event with camping that it is now.

The festival’s reputation has grown both locally, across the UK and internationally.

How do you think SSW compares with other festivals?

I’ve been to a few festivals and all the best festivals are unique in their own right. If you don’t like your festivals too big and you want to enjoy high production standards then Summer Sundae ticks those boxes.

What do you see as the future of the festival? Bigger/same size? Are you planning on offering more outside of a music context like comedy/literature/poetry etc?

We have to work with a limited capacity as we’re in a very tight inner-city site, so we cannot grow much further.

We do have a comedy programme and we have had a poetry stage. Last year we introduced a film tent in association with Phoenix Square

This year’s lineup is once again a really nice eclectic mix of artists. Is this something you do deliberately to attract a wider audience?

We’re very aware that Summer Sundae attracts a cross section of music fans with all manner of tastes from East Midlands. So whereas we might have “something for everybody”, hopefully people will go away from the festival with their new favourite act. We like to mix it up. For me Glastonbury is the ultimate festival for giving the audience a range of choice, we’re offering that up on a smaller scale.

Also, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. For example we booked Sophie Ellis-Bextor 3 years ago and some punters thought we’d lost the plot. Her set that Saturday evening was a triumph and I bet some of the naysayers were secretly enjoying her set as well!

Are there any particular artists you’re personally looking forward to seeing and/or meeting?

There’s a whole number of acts I am personally looking forward to, too many to list in fact. Special mentions to Teenage Fan Club, Stornoway, Caribou and Mumford and Sons. Diana Vickers on Saturday afternoon should be good fun as well!

Also looking forward to having Jose Gonzalez back at the festival with his band Junip.

Are there any lineup surprises or guest appearances in store?!


And Finally, if there’s one moment from all the SSW festivals you’ve organised/been to that sticks in your mind what is it and why?

Probably Saturday afternoon in 2005 during Magic Numbers, it was our first sell out day at Summer Sundae, the sun had just come out for the first time and my wife and 2 month old daughter had just arrived on site. All was perfect. I was soon brought back to earth with the instruction to change a nappy, whilst my wife got herself a cocktail. It’s not all rock and roll as a festival director.

Thanks for your time Rob and we’re looking forward to Summer Sundae 2010.