The Onwards Festival is Huddersfield’s music festival with a twist – and it’s back on September 23 and 24.
The festival, part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023, takes audiences through grassroots music venues in Huddersfield town centre with a carefully-curated programme of live music.
The Onwards Festival started in 2016, the brainchild of organisers Sam Hodgson and Noah Burton, to create a live music experience that moved people around town in a ‘pub crawl’ style.
The festival didn’t happen in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid but now, with support from Arts Council England and Kirklees Year of Music 2023, the festival has grown and promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
This year’s festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday September 23 and 24 moving between six independent venues – The Parish, Northern Quarter, Small Seeds, Byram Arcade, Hive Cafe and The County Beerhouse – with performances by 16 different artists.
Led by the Onwards compere, music lovers attending the Saturday festivities will progress through the town finally descending upon headline act Klonk, an 8-piece party band crafting stone cold killer cuts out of klezmer, balkan, funk, jazz, metal and hip-hop. Expect full tilt horns and wild strings going toe-to-toe with a powerhouse rhythm section.
Other notable performances throughout the day will take place in the spectacular Byram Arcade by jazz vocalist Ruby Wood who has an upcoming EP release with First Word Records and Amaya, a duo featuring Carnatic singer Supriya Nagarajan and Duncan Chapman on flugelhorn and electronics who are inspired by new ideas, forms and aesthetics from across the world.
Earlier in the day audiences will be treated to Afrobeat funksters Plantfood and the powerhouse blues stylings of Wadcutter Blues. Day tickets can be purchased giving access to all events on the Saturday for just £15.
Sunday’s line-up boasts acoustic performances throughout the afternoon taking place alongside a newly-commissioned collaboration between illustrious ‘bare knuckle soul’ singer Thabo and The Huddersfield Ukrainian Singing Troupe.
Sound artist Chris Ruffoni’s sculptural sound installation, which responds in real time to the environment, will hang in the trees of New Street to create an immersive, contemplative and organically shifting texture of sounds.
Headlining Sunday’s proceedings are the mighty Mr Wilson’s Second Liners who blend New Orleans brass with 90s club classics and will be proudly stepping out in uniformed style as they channel the spirit of the 24-hour party people and get audiences dancing into a joyful frenzy. Events for Sunday are individually ticketed.
Here’s what’s on and when
Long Island, The Parish, 3pm-3.45pm.
Plantfood, The Parish, 4pm-4.45pm.
Wadcutter Blues and Zero and the No No’s at Northern Quarter 5pm-7pm
Ruby Wood and AMAYA at Byram Arcade 7pm-9pm
Klonk and Don Gonzo at Small Seeds 9pm-11.45pm
Chicken Scratch DJ Set, Small Seeds, 11pm.
Thabo at Small Seeds 3.30pm-4pm
Thabo at Small Seeds 4.15pm-4.45pm
Mr Wilson’s Second Liners and Smith Sisters at The Parish 5pm-9pm
Thabo at Small Seeds 5pm-5.30pm
Mali Hayes, Hive Cafe, John William Street, 1.30pm-2.30pm. Limited space so arrive early.
Bussey, The County, 2pm.
Here’s the Steeple, The County, 3pm.
Kaninchen, The County, 4pm.