End of season festival draws sell-out crowd

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Music fans were treated to a burst of late summer sun as they gathered for one of the last events in the British festival season this weekend.

The End Of The Road Festival, which was postponed from last year due to the pandemic, drew a sell-out crowd of 11,800 to its Dorset countryside base.

Organisers said they were forced to reconfigure the event’s line-up earlier in the year after several previously announced artists were unable to perform due to travel restrictions and other logistical challenges.

Former Blur frontman Damon Albarn
Former Blur frontman Damon Albarn was appearing as a special guest (Burak Cingi/PA)

But headline slots were quickly filled by 90s cult band Stereolab, synthpop outfit Hot Chip and punk duo Sleaford Mods, joined in the schedule by former Blur frontman Damon Albarn as a special guest and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood in a rare solo live appearance.

Other artists on the bill included singer-songwriter Arlo Parks and Mercury Prize-nominated Little Simz.

Meanwhile, comedian Simon Amstell was making a return to stand-up, headlining the festival’s comedy programme, alongside TV and radio regulars Shaparak Khorsandi and Josie Long.

The festival’s highlights are its surprise performances (Parri Thomas/PA)
The festival’s highlights are its surprise performances (Parri Thomas/PA)

The four-day gathering, which is in its 15th year and ends on Sunday, is held at the Larmer Tree Gardens, near Blandform Forum.

It hosts four music stages, as a well as a talking heads stage, a literature tent and cinema, but the event’s highlights are its surprise performances and one-off collaborations.

The independently run event, which is renowned for its varied musical line-up, was described by NME the last time it was held, in 2019, as “inarguably, the best-curated festival of the summer”.

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The return of music festivals following the relaxing of pandemic-era restrictions has been a boost for the live entertainment industry after the 2020 season was effectively wiped out.

But there have still been some casualties in 2021, with Glastonbury, the country’s biggest and best-known festival, cancelled for a second successive year.

Those attending the End Of The Road Festival this year were being asked to provide a negative lateral flow test or proof of double vaccination or natural immunity to gain entry.

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