Handmade Festival 2018 overview

5th and 6th May 2018

at The O2 Academy, Leicester

Reviewed by Keith Jobey.

Handmade Festival was held for the sixth year (the fourth at the Academy) over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

Photo: Kevin Gaughan

There were some forced changes this year due to the ongoing structural development that has led to the loss of the iconic Queens Hall, a revamped Union Square acting as replacement second stage. The Cave, the scene of some classic Handmade highlights also fell victim to the refurbishments. The replacement being the off-site Attenborough Centre.

The Tuts in the Attenborough Arts Centre Photo: Kevin Gaughan

Ironic that we all bemoaned the move to the Academy from city centre, an event where you had to run between venues, yet presented now with a 5-minute walk we may be put off heading there. As it was, the Attenborough Centre was close enough, it was the coming back through the occasionally stringent security that was the main chore.

The Scholar was a little awkward though, the building work cutting off the outside route around the stage forcing all traffic to push through the crowd to get to the bar, the outside sitting area and the infamous ‘Hangover Steps’.

The Orielles in the O2 Academy 1 Photo: Kevin Gaughan

Food and drink is a big factor when rating a festival. With a policy of not allowing any food or drink in (including water) did it mean we were going to be ripped off once trapped inside? The food vendors were limited but gave enough choice, even though some items were pricey, others seemed reasonable value. Poutine seemed a popular choice, especially when word got around that it’s just chips and gravy in disguise.

The usually limited Academy drinks were boosted by some welcome barrels of local ale (Belvoir and Grainstore) and numerous boxes of different ciders. So all was good there. Water was readily available from drinking fonts or the bars. Overall food and drink options scored fairly highly.

Nelson Can in The Scholar Photo: Kevin Gaughan

See our review of Saturday and Sunday at Handmade Festival 2018.