Lights, camera, action! Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival is back for 2024 with a film-themed festival to celebrate the return of cinema in Rotherham.
This year’s blockbuster festival will pay homage to the film industry across three nights from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th March at Magna.
Your favourite hero Baa’sil the sheep will be making a Hollywood style cameo appearance at what the organisers are calling ‘Director’s Cut’.
But plot twist: it could be the last one!
After 31 years, 12 of those held at Magna, it’s becoming increasingly unviable to run due to the rising costs of beer, bands, and venue hire. The call sheet of volunteers is also dwindling every year.
But lead organiser, Steve Burns, is counting on the people of South Yorkshire to get a ticket and make it a fun farewell before the closing credits roll.
“We always start off with the premise of how we can make sure people have a good time. Then we decided how the festival is going to make money. This year we’ve cut expenses as much as we can, and the ticket price is the same as last year – £12.
“The pub up the road from you might be doing a beer festival with a few guest ales and free entry. But we spend as much on the music as we do on beer. Our entry price gets you access to some great live music for around half the price of what you’d pay to see one act. And, as always, if you keep your official glass then you can get back in for free on the Saturday.”
A look-back at Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival
1993 – Started by Jim and Jan Charters at Oakwood School with 22 beers and one band.
2000 – Start of the annual themes, beginning with Yorkshire Greater Ales
2004 – Baa’sil the sheep, the official mascot, first appeared, designed by cartoonist Dave Howarth
2011 – Moved to Magna due to growing visitor numbers and popularity of the event. Attended by 10,000 people who bought 85,000 glasses of beer.
2015 – Held in June instead of the usual early spring slot
2021 – First virtual event owing to the coronavirus pandemic
Who’s performing at the 2024 festival
The soundtrack to the start of this year’s festival is a bit different than in recent years. Thursday night will be an open mic event in the main hall where solo acts and bands can book their place to perform with the house band and professional sound system.
On Friday night, the popular Funky Business will headline the main stage with a mix of soul, funk and dance classics, supported by Kiziah and the Kings and beer festival stalwarts, The G Men.
On Saturday, there will be a buskers’ corner in the Boardwalk room. Any buskers who take part can reclaim their expenses and also collect donations on the night.
Over on the main stage, the line-up includes South Yorkshire soloists and bands such as The Leptons, Lightning Threads, Bone Broke Kings, Sam Scherdel and Daniel Horsham.
Then get ready to send the beer festival out with a bang as The Leathernecks take to the stage with their energetic renditions of Indie-rock hits from bands like Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, and The Libertines.
What beers will be available
As ever, there will be over 150 real ales and ciders from breweries in all four parts of Yorkshire. Prices will be £2.00 for half and £4.00 a pint.
Yorkshire’s world-famous Timothy Taylor will have their own bar again in the main hall. While the team at Chantry Brewery will have theirs set up in the Boardwalk room featuring the core range of award-winning cask ales such as New York Pale, Iron and Steel Bitter, Black Diamond Stout, and Steelos.
Along with beers from some of South Yorkshire’s finest breweries such as Abbeydale, Bradfield, Gorilla, and Nailmaker, there will also be a guest bar featuring some West Country breweries.
For those who don’t like beer, there is a gin and cocktail bar, lots of cider and perry choices, and even beer that tastes like lager. There will also be free soft drinks for designated drivers and tee-totallers.
Baa’sil goes to Hollywood
Later this year, the eight-screen Arc Cinema opens at Forge Island, over 30 years on from when the last town centre cinema closed its doors. To celebrate this, the Boardwalk room will be showing films each night including classics Laurel and Hardy comedies, and cult horror movies thanks to the team at HorrorConUK.
In keeping with the Hollywood theme, you can also have your name included in their Hall of Fame that will see gold stars will be placed down the hallway. They cost £50 and include ticket entry for two people for any night, plus a star to take home afterwards. A great idea for birthdays, anniversaries, or just to give a shout out to your own shining star.
2023 – Baa t’at (Yorkshire themed festival)
2022 – Festival for Heroes
2020 – Lambusters
2019 – Baas, Bands and Beers
2018 – Best Party in Town
2017 – Mines a Pint!
2015 – Baa-Watch
2014 – Ale to the Festival (Roman themed)
2013 – Baa’sil Goes West
2012 – Baa’s of Steel
How can you get involved
Whether you’re in it for the beer, bands or both, remember that Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival is a charity festival organised solely by volunteers. All proceeds from the festival will go towards their chosen charity, Rotherham Cancer Care Centre at Clifton which provides counselling and therapies to cancer patients and their families.
The team are always on the lookout for volunteers for before, during and after the event. So, if you have a few hours to spare to clean the pumps, put posters up, man the bars, or set up the stages then your help will be invaluable. All volunteers work shifts over the weekend and will get free food and drinks, as well as a festival t-shirt and the chance to see these amazing live acts perform.
To buy tickets, visit www.magnabeerfestival.uk.
Thursday 7th, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th March
Thurs & Fri 6pm-11pm
Open Mic Night
*Free re-entry with 2024 RRAMF glass