Country music in our Countryside: Black Deer Festival in the UK

Posted on 20 April 2018
By Erin Downes
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Since it was announced in 2017, the Black Deer festival, the UK’s first festival of its kind to celebrate Americana and Country music, has continued to gain excitement. Running from June 22 to June 24 2018, the festival pairs an exciting and diverse line-up with an interesting delve into the culture that inspired these types of music to create a sensational weekend. Based within the beautiful setting of the oldest deer park in the country, the 3000-acre Eridge Park estate in Royal Tunbridge Wells boasts beautiful scenery and even wild deer roaming through the festival grounds. Being only a 50 minute journey from London, it’s even easily accessible, allowing for a little space to breathe away from normal day-to-day life.

The star-studded line-up for the weekend includes Grammy award winners Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, in their only UK festival appearance of 2018, alongside singer-songwriter Iron & Wine and Passenger (most well-known for his single ‘Let her go’ which reached a billion YouTube hits after its release in 2012). These acts are joined by an array of other artists, from the worlds of Country, Americana, Folk, Bluegrass, Roots and Blues. To completely immerse visitors in this alternative roots lifestyle, the environment will be shaped by a variety of elements. Classic food and drinks will be on offer, allowing all festival-goers to try specialties originating from American smokehouses (but all made using ethically sourced British produce) as well as drinks such as craft beers, artisan ales and fine wines. As a part of the immersive experience, festival-goers can choose from a range of offered accommodation, from pitching their own tents in the grounds to staying in the ‘Gypsy Bowtop Caravan Village’ or even the ‘Fancy Camping Village’.

To ensure people of all ages have an enjoyable experience, there are a range of activities to suit everyone. Not only are there plans for artisans to showcase their handcrafted artisan wares in the market, but there are also many opportunities for the younger festival-goers to take part. The ever growing list of activities includes a cinema, ukulele lessons, creative workshops, tree-top climbing and even a main stage designed just for the ‘young folk’, who are even able to showcase their own musical talents. In addition, as a significant symbol of the alternative lifestyle, motorcycles will have a large part in the weekend. They will especially be represented by London’s Bolt Motorcycles, as their founder Andrew Almond will be leading a section of the festival dedicated to the beautiful machines. Whether you turn up on your own pair of wheels or simply visit to witness the marvel of other people’s bikes, the beauty of this rich piece of history will be widely celebrated.

The two main driving forces behind Black Deer have been UK concert promoters Gill Tee and Deborah Shilling. After helping to produce and direct a range of shows across the UK in the past, including Hyde Park’s ‘Party In The Park’ and the Hop Farm Festival, Tee said “Having been in the music industry for many years, producing events for other people, I am proud to finally take a giant step to having a festival of my own”. She also added that “I hope that Black Deer can bring to a wider audience all the love and warmth that I feel about our festival. All the characters who make up our wider team have the same ethos. We are all working together to ensure that anyone who steps foot into the world of Black Deer will want to come back for many years in the future.” Shilling seemingly agreed, saying “that’s what Black Deer is all about for me – bringing passionate like-minded people together through authentic good times.”

In order to share some of this positivity with future generations, Black Deer has even partnered with Supajam Education in Music and Media (SEMM), an educational provider supporting vulnerable young people with special education needs. Being the main focus of their 2017/18 curriculum, students will be given the opportunity to manage their own stage at the festival, allowing them to gain invaluable transferrable skills for their future. Guy Pratt from Pink Floyd who works as a Supajam mentor described this as “an unbelievable and potentially life changing opportunity for these talented students to put their skills to the test and to show the Black Deer community what I know they’re capable of.”

To find out more information, including upcoming line-up announcements and ticket information for what promises to be an exhilarating event, visit