The weekend of July 22-24 is when Tramlines music festival takes place in Hillsborough Park and is advertised as a sell out event. It is a festival we are pleased to report that has a bar that serves real ale too.
However if you haven’t got a ticket for the main event and still fancy a bit of a party in Sheffield that weekend with live music and good beer then don’t worry, there’s also a fringe where many venues around the City put on free gigs.
The heart of the fringe is the outdoor stages on Devonshire Green and in the Peace Gardens put on by Sheffield BID (Business Improvement District), however we’ll ignore them and look at those venues serving real ale or other craft beer all year round that usually offer live music of some description.
The Washington on Fitzwilliam Street (the road from West Street to Moorfoot) has already announced their line up of bands for the weekend with a pre-party on the Thursday then live music from 5pm Friday and from 2:30pm Saturday and Sunday until the DJs take over at 11pm to dance through until 3am. There will also be some afternoon DJ sets in the beer garden. At the time of writing the cask ales available included Abbeydale Moonshine and Black Mass plus Bradfield Farmers Blonde. There are also usually traditional bitters from Marstons and Black Sheep on the bar.
Another Sheffield stalwart of live music and real ale has been the Dorothy Pax at Victoria Quays where you can be inside the cosy railway arch venue seeing the live entertainment or head outside to the waterside to sit and enjoy your beer. Six handpumps here dispense cask ale and cider and there are also some craft beer options on the keg taps too. In the past for Tramlines weekend the boat was really pushed out (so to speak) with their “Canal Lines” event with a music stage outside.
Also in the City Centre, Church House by the Cathedral have live music every weekend, usually classic rock tribute bands, but something a bit special is usually arranged for Tramlines fringe – keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements.
The Green Room by Devonshire Green can be a little hit and miss on beer availability but is quite music orientated and never fails to put a show on for Tramlines weekend.
The Frog & Parrot on Division Street, owned by Greene King serving their beers plus local guests usually also put live music on over Tramlines weekend.
A newer and less well known venue is Perch, the bar attached to Dead Parrot Brewery on Garden Street. Every day you can go and enjoy their beers and bar food is available in the form of burgers and pizzas, however now and again live music events take place outside in the courtyard, keep an eye on their Facebook page for news of events taking place.
Shakespeares Ale & Cider House on Gibralter Street are known for their Tramlines Fringe event, although of course have gigs in the upstairs room all year round. For the festival weekend they have a busy programme of free entertainment alongside a great beer range and stay open until at least midnight.
Heist Brew Co. at Neepsend have announced their Tramlines fringe events already too – Beer Lines. Music, beer, rum and burgers are promised with Saturday featuring Dat Brass playing live from 6:30pm and the University of Sheffield DJ Society on the decks on Sunday from 2pm.
Finally, a mention for those pubs that don’t specifically do anything for Tramlines Fringe but have live music all year round such as the White Lion at Heeley and of course those that regularly do smaller scale music events including folk sessions – pubs such as the Dog & Partridge, Fagans and Gardeners Rest. Also not to forget the Dove & Rainbow who we’re sure will be looking after the alternative crowd in their usual style!
If you want to escape Sheffield for the evening to avoid the Tramlines crowds but still see some live music then options include jumping on a tram to Rotherham to a live music pub such as the Bridge Inn and Cutlers Arms or catch a bus to Chesterfield to somewhere like the Neptune Beer Emporium.
This article is by no means comprehensive and was written before many of the venues have announced plans for the weekend, keep an eye on the Sheffield CAMRA website nearer the time for our guide to real ale venues taking part in the fringe.