Electric Fields festival forced into refunds climbdown after relocating from Dumfries & Galloway castle to Glasgow warehouse

One of Scotland's biggest outdoor music festivals is under fire for moving of a 17th century castle in Dumfries and Galloway to a warehouse complex in Glasgow.

The Electric Fields festival was launched in 2014 at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway.
The Electric Fields festival was launched in 2014 at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway.

Organisers of Electric Fields blamed rising costs and "logistical issues" for the decision to move the event 60 miles away from the grounds of Drumlanrig Castle.

It will instead go ahead as a non-camping event at SWG3, the venue in the fashionable Finnieston district of Glasgow.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But the festival has capitulated to demands to offer people who had already paid up for the event in the castle grounds a full refund after a furious backlash when they were told they would get part of their ticket money back.

The 17th century Drumlanrig Castle has provided the picturesque backdrop to the Electric Fields festival.

Electric Fields is the second major music festival which Dumfries & Galloway has lost in the space of three years following the demise of Wickerman after 15 years.

First staged in 2014, the 7000-capacity Electric Fields had attracted the likes of Young Fathers, Noel Gallagher, Frightened Rabbit, Primal Scream, Dizzee Rascal, The Charlatans, Leftfield and Young Fathers.

Organisers had already announced dates and a line-up for a sixth festival at Drumlanrig Castle, and had also sold early bird tickets. However only partial refunds were offered to ticket-holders after the announcement was made, forcing a climbdown several hours later.

However a statement issued less than three months before the festival was due to be staged at Drumlanrig Castle said it would now go ahead on multiple stages, indoors and outdoors, at SWG3. All acts previously announced will be playing at the event's new home.

However the festival was immediately bombarded with hundreds of complaints from music fans who had committed to go to the event at its traditional site. The festival had still been promoting £120 early bird weekend tickets on its social media channels at the end of last month.

Richard Spencer, who was among those to post on the event's Facebook page, said: "Letting the kids experience camping at this great wee festival was the reason we bought again this year even before the announcement of the line up. Do the right thing and offer full a full refund."

Karen Simpson said: "I'll get over the disappointment - thanks for your concern though. I'm more interested in why there is complete radio silence about getting a refund. It was roughly £350 for a family ticket and it looks like you're offering me around £50 of that back. You advertised a family friendly camping festival and are now selling three separate gigs in the middle of Glasgow, in a warehouse type venue - totally inappropriate to take small children to from where we live (and I suspect many others). The way you've handled the whole thing is a PR disaster."

Scott Campbell said: "Well done guys, taking a family friendly festival to the city. Top job. Nothing says boutique festival more than a weekend in a Holiday Inn."

Susan Miller said: "The more I think about this the more annoyed I'm getting. You ask us to take a leap of faith and book tickets for your festival without knowing the line up. We bought the tickets based on the idea of an experience including camping in a nice location, then you completely change the deal. This really isn't on."

However a later statement posted by the festival said: "We're sorry we got that totally wrong, and genuinely can only apologise. We have emailed all ticket holders with updated information."

The Vaccines, Kyle Falconer, Frank Turner, Friendly Fires, Nahine Shah, Malcolm Middleton and Sleaford Mods are among the acts due to appear in the relocated event.

A statement posted on the festival website read: "Due to the rising costs of producing outdoor camping festivals and ongoing logistical & transport challenges we have made the difficult decision to move site to an inner city location in Glasgow.

"SWG3 is located in the popular Finnieston area, with excellent transport links from around Glasgow and further afield. The venue capacity is also slightly larger than we normally have so we’ll be able to welcome some more of you to join us.

"We have had five amazing years producing the festival there and thank everyone at the castle for their immense support, as well as everyone involved in making those lasting memories in the fields."

Festival director Nick Roberts said: "After spending the past five years putting on a quality outdoor music festival we found the rising costs this year have led us to reimagining how Electric Fields takes place for 2019.

"Although we leave Dumfries & Galloway with a heavy heart our new venue offers a very exciting opportunity for us to flex our creative muscle and put on an outstanding show in the heart of Glasgow.

"We will have our full line-up joining us, excellent food and drinks and of course tonnes to do for little ones. We look forward to seeing faces old and new in July.”