Parklife 2024 gets underway as Sugababes, Disclosure and Becky Hill bring a buzz to Heaton Park

Becky Hill closed day one of Parklife 2024
-Credit: (Image: Gary Oakley/Manchester Evening News)

Just as the gates for the first day of Parklife 2024 open in Heaton Park, there is a short but dramatic outpouring of rain that threatens to make its mark on the party atmosphere of the beloved festival.

But, pretty much as soon as a sea of ponchos are pulled over the gathered glitzy and extravagant outfits in attendance the rain stops and the sun appears to a collective sigh of relief.

Whilst the weather at the start of the event remained a little windy and overcast, the lack of rain meant that festival goers were ready and raring to go for a day full of good vibes and good sounds ahead of them - namely from headliners Disclosure, Becky Hill, and Camelphat.

READ MORE: Parklife 2024 entry times, lineup, venue, stages and everything else you need to know

Ahead of the festival, one of the day's acts, drill artist Digga D, was axed from the line-up alongside two of Sunday’s originally scheduled performers. The move led to some backlash from fans who said they expected refunds or a replacement acts, but any worries that the change to the line-up would alter the atmosphere and spirit of the festival were squashed just moments into proceedings.

“I wanted to see J Hus but he isn’t here this weekend now," fan Shania, who has travelled up from Lincoln with friends Ruby, Mia and Gabriella. "I’m a bit sad about that, but we're still going to have a good time anyway." Ruby added: "We've come from Lincoln specifically for this, it’s like a three-hour journey but it’s worth it. We just love it, it’s good music and good vibes every time."

As the sun continued to make an appearance at 2pm, CASISDEAD, who won a BRIT Award for best Hip Hop/Rap/Grime Act earlier this year, drew in one of the biggest crowds of the afternoon. The masked musician performed an explosive collection of his biggest hits with fans singing back every word in unison.

For many attending the event, today was a special occasion for a number of reasons. Speaking over at the Hangar stage, Lucas Weber said he was celebrating his 27th birthday and looking forward to seeing Eliza Rose. He was sporting some SHEIN sunglasses, with a nod to their pop-up fashion shop on-site..

Meanwhile, Adrian, from London, had enlisted his friends to join him in celebrating his 30th birthday by all dressing up as elderly people - with inflatable walking frames to boot. "I’m old now,” he explained of the costume choice, "so I thought we’d dress up for the occasion.”

Harriet Groucott, 34, from Staffordshire, has been coming to Parklife every year for the last ten years. This year however is a little different for her as she was celebrating her ‘UK hen party’ after having an initial hen in Benidorm. "This is my UK hen party," she explained. "Benidorm was crazy but this is going to be just as crazy."

Also hosting her hen do at the festival was Rhiannon, from Dublin, who was surprised with her friends with tickets to Parklife. "We got a plane over from Dublin last night, we were getting ready to go out for dinner and at first they told me we were going to Old Trafford," Rhiannon recalled. "To you know see football and the museum and I was a bit dubious, but turns out it was actually Parklife."

Fashion throughout the day was covered with a plethora of cowboy boots, neon garments and, of course, bucket hats. Pals Katie Pennington, 33, and Molly Baker, 22, were repping cowboy hats to mark their first time at Parklife. “Everyone is dressed up in cowboy hats and boots," Molly said. "We love country so that’s why we’ve done it and we’re very on trend."

Over on the Parklife Stage, London rapper KiLLOWEN wore an England T-Shirt with Southgate's name on the back. As he played Sober and One Thing to a lively crowd, who were jumping on their feet. Later in the day on the same stage, South-African born British singer, songwriter and producer Kenya Grace also drew in huge crowds.

Bride-to-be Rhiannon and her hens who have flown in from Dublin for a surprise hen do at Parklife
Bride-to-be Rhiannon and her hens who have flown in from Dublin for a surprise hen do at Parklife

The 25-year-old started her set with the song Paris which she said is about ‘how social media is super fake sometimes’ before moving onto ‘Only In My Mind’ which she revealed was ‘one of her faves’.

Things took a surprising when she broke into a remix of Gotta Get Thru This by Daniel Bedingfield and then Toxic by Britney Spears. She ended with her huge BRIT-nominated single Strangers, which was met with huge cheers from the crowd who immediately started singing along.

The Valley stage is arguably the best spot to take the festival in from. Perch yourself at the top of the hill or plonk yourself down on in front of the huge Parklife sign, and watch the day unfold.

South-African born British singer, songwriter and producer Kenya Grace also drew in huge crowds.
Day one at Parklife 2024

Late afternoon, those who decided to linger for a while we're treated to some high energy performances from Nia Archives, sampling 'Murder on the Dancefloor' and dropping one of her biggest hits - the Brazilian-inspired track Baianá, which samples the traditional Brazilian choir Barbatuques.

Also giving a nod to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, was Peggy Gou, who took over after Four Tet's epic set on the same stage. This wasn't Gou's first rodeo - or Parklife - though and she came across as someone totally at the top of her game.

The South Korean DJ and singer was the first to play Berghain, has headlined massive Ibiza superclubs and released one of the best songs of 2023 - her hit (It Goes Like) Nanana - so it's no wonder she amassed a legion of fans along the way. Her set, drawing on some 80s and 90s classics, as well as some of her newer material felt like the perfect segue into the evening as the sun began to slowly set over Heaton Park.

Peggy Gou takes to the Valley Stage at Parklife
Bride-to-be Rhiannon and her hens who have flown in from Dublin for a surprise hen do at Parklife -Credit:Kenny Brown | Manchester Evening News

Following Kenya Grace on the Parklife stage Mahalia went straight in with her huge hit ‘Simmer’. On finishing she told the crowd she was ‘very excited’ to be at Parklife - her first festival of the summer. Moving onto her song Plastic Plants she told the audience the song was inspired by the fact films and TV have ‘ruined her expectations of love’ adding: “Bridgerton is currently ruining my life”.

The 26-year-old who hails from Leicester went onto perform hits including ‘In My Bag’ and ‘What you did’ that got huge reactions from the crowd who sang along to the lyrics word by word. She ended with ‘I wish I missed my ex’ which naturally she dedicated to her ex.

As early evening arrived, the crowds descended as soon as the Sugababes took to the Parklife stage and they did not disappoint delivering classic after classic, going all the way back to their first ever single Overload released 24 years ago.

Following Kenya Grace on the Parklife stage Mahalia went straight in with her huge hit ‘Simmer’
South-African born British singer, songwriter and producer Kenya Grace also drew in huge crowds -Credit:Gary Oakley/Manchester Evening News

As the sun set over Heaton Park the reminiscent crowd sang and smiled along to all the band's noughties hits from Freak Like Me, to Red Dress and Too Lost in You.

The chemistry between the original line-up Mutya Buena, Siobhán Donaghy, and Keisha Buchanan was palpable and as their voices flawlessly melded together fans danced and cheered like it was 2000. There a garage stop off via Sweet Female Attitude's Flowers, which really hit the spot, but then it was back to Business with their biggest hits - Push The Button, Round Round and About You Know to round it off.

From pop legends to dance royalty Becky Hill’s performance was the perfect follow up after the Sugababes set, bringing a burst of energy and feel good anthems. The dance music star Becky Hill made a dramatic entrance emerging from the clouds of several smoke machines as flashing lights set the stage alight.

The 30-year-old went straight into her hits Do you Believe Me Now, Overdrive and Crazy What Love Can Do as the crowds cheered and sang along. Becky then spoke about her journey from going from opening at Park Life 10 years ago to headlining Saturday night.

Becky Hill closed day one of Parklife 2024
Peggy Gou takes to the Valley Stage at Parklife -Credit:Gary Oakley/Manchester Evening News

“This is a really incredible moment for me. I remember opening up this stage back in 2014 when I was about 20 years old. I had a crowd not even half the size of this,” she said, adding: “It is a real moment to go from opening up this stage on the first set to then headlining the festival so thank you so much to Parklife for having me.”

The singer then moved onto her newer tracks, including Multiply from her new album Never Be Alone, released on May 31.

Further up the park Camelphat lit up the Hangar stage with an immersive performance. There was smoke machine and strobe lights galore as the Liverpudlian DJs blasted tracks including Cola and remixes such as Who You Are by Arude to a lively crowd as darkness set fell.

The Valley stage at Parklife Festival
-Credit:Gary Oakley/Manchester Evening News

Just across the way English electronic duo Disclosure closed out The Valley Stage where some of Saturday's best festival vibes could be found. As they quickly pointed out, this was their first UK live show in 8 years, but from the sublime production and carefully selected setlist you couldn't tell they had been away so long - they really were back on top form.

Seamlessly flowing from old to new, the pair begun with F For You and When A Fire Starts to Burn before stopping off at bops including Holding On, Loose my My Mind, and new track She's Gone. Latch got its play too as did Tondo, before they closed proceedings with You & Me featuring the vocals of Eliza Doolittle. The last track felt epic in proportions, the base, Doolittle's vocals and the strings reverberating around the valley as day one of Parklife came to a pretty perfect close.