AWARD-WINNING rapper and MC Dizzee Rascal will headline this year’s Split Festival.
The home-grown festival, which took a break last year, is back with its biggest headliner yet, a new location and a new date.
The popular weekend music celebration will move from its birthplace at Ashbrooke Sports Ground to Mowbray Park and will take place in the summer, instead of autumn.
Bonkers, Dance Wiv Me and Holiday singer Dizzee will headline on Saturday, August 9, while rockers The Cribs and Maximo Park will headline the following day.
Futureheads band member Ross Millard, who programmes the music at Split, said: “Dizzee Rascal is a British institution, a household name, with countless hits, who has fans across the genres.”
He added: “It’s fantastic to have Maximo Park, a North East-based band, as a main stage Sunday headliner. They have a big back catalogue of sing-a-long hits. They’re a perfect way to end the festival.
“We’ve been courting The Cribs for quite a few years and we’re made up to get them to Sunderland. They are raw, exciting and unpredictable, and again they have a lot of releases from which to draw a festival set list.”
Since it began in 2009, Split has brought major names to Wearside including John Lydon’s band PiL and The Charlatans, while also providing a platform for emerging talent.
That fusion of big names and up-and-coming acts will continue, but changes have been made to the spectacular in order to broaden its appeal musically and to make it easier for people across the region to enjoy Sunderland’s biggest music festival.
Though the festival has proved popular with thousands of music fans, it had attracted complaints from some Ashbrooke residents. It’s hoped that moving it to a city centre location will help it to attract more people.
Martyn McFadden, from Split, said: “By moving to the city centre, we are hoping more people will be able to access the event. We want to be a regional event for people across the North East to enjoy and by being in the city centre, it means people from Middlesbrough, Durham and Newcastle can hop on a train and be here in 25 minutes.
“It’s also a way of making it a bigger event for Sunderland and businesses in the city centre.”
One of Split’s founders, Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde, added: “By bringing Split into the summertime and changing the site as well, we’re looking at it as a fresh start. We are extremely excited about bringing the festival to the city centre. Mowbray Park is one of the icons of Sunderland and it will be a beautiful venue.
“The line-up reflects this as well, because we’re bringing Dizzee Rascal, a genuine household name to Sunderland, a British institution and someone who will kick the Saturday night off in style.
“We’re delighted that all of our headliners have taken an interest in what we’re doing in Sunderland with Split Festival, and hopefully this year’s event can inspire and support more local musicians and music lovers than ever before.”
More acts for the festival, which will feature a line-up of dozens over two days, will be announced in the coming weeks.
The festival will be officially launched at the Museum and Winter Gardens today with tickets going on sale at 11.30am.