'Women-only' LBTQ music festival in the Derbyshire countryside gets green light

A women-only LBTQ music festival in the Derbyshire countryside has been given the go-ahead and has been hailed as a “massive opportunity”.

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 11:19 am

At a licensing hearing on Tuesday, June 8, Derbyshire Dales District Council gave the thumbs-up for FemmeFest to take place from September 3-6 at Green View Farm, Pikehall, near Matlock – the same location as the Y Not music festival.

Fiona-Lisa Grant, who is setting up the festival, said it would provide a safe and secure event for other like-minded people, as well as those “scared” of identifying as lesbian, bi, transgender and queer.

Colin McDougall, a local resident, raised concerns about the cumulative impact that the added festival would have on the area – combined with events such as Y Not, which cause disruption.

The festival is planned for the same site as the popular Y Not music event in Derbyshire, shown here in 2019

Councillors on the licensing committee chose to approve the festival, but scaled back some of the requested hours and events on the Sunday night into Monday morning, so as to avoid disruption to residents.

The festival will be allowed to take place in September this year but will be tied to June in future years and music and alcohol sales on the Sunday night must stop at midnight, instead of up to 2am.

Maximum capacity, initially, has been capped at 2,000 people.

Festival organisers must comply with all relevant Covid-19 regulations.

Mr McDougall was concerned about the potential for the festival to grow up to a 5,000-person event, which would have been allowed under the standard application.

He told the hearing: “We don’t want another festival of up to 5,000 people playing music outdoors until 2am in the morning. We think that is a public nuisance.

“We also object to traffic potentially affecting our domestic access.

“The letter from Ms Grant says up to 1,000 people and a silent disco, so we fear that the letter and the licence don’t marry.

“We are not against FemmeFest, per se.

“We have several events which take place in a fairly concise period of the year, the lovely sunny months, about eight weeks, and it is intrusive and has a cumulative effect.

“Mouldridge Lane has now become the site access point. Mouldridge Lane is directly opposite the driveway we use to get to our home and always with Y Not it impacts us getting into and out of our home.

“I would like to facilitate FemmeFest to happen, not to not happen.”

He called noise a “major concern” with Y Not scaling down from midnight to allow residents to sleep.

Cllrs Michele Morley and Steve Wain both said they appreciated the concern and potential disruption of the festival and sought specific conditions to improve the situation.

Ms Grant told the hearing: “I fully appreciate Mr McDougall’s concerns and that is why I wanted to visit the villagers.

“Some of the things he has had to experience have been awful.

“FemmeFest is nothing like Y Not. I feel as though it has been compared and there is no comparison.

“In my letter that I gave to residents I said I was expecting 500-1,000 residents, it is a women only and an LGBT event and it is the first one, so there is no way it is going to be 5,000 people. I can’t see there ever being 5,000 attendees.

“You have to consider the percentage of LGBTQ people in the UK is only two per cent, so we are just never going to get those numbers. I need 500, 1,000 would be great and 1,500 would be incredible.

“I can’t say how many people will be there, but I am hoping for 1,000.

“The expected age range will be between 25 and 65. I want it to be an 18+ event so as not to segregate those 18-24, that is not fair. But women who are 18 years old are probably still too scared to identify and join this event, so I would still like it to be an 18+ event.

“This is a massive opportunity. There are so many festivals out there with thousands and thousands of attendees, and this one is only a small event in comparison and it is unfair for people who just want to meet like-minded people to be told, ‘well you can have 1,000 and that’s it’.

“The festival will grow, hopefully, and it will give people who have never had this opportunity to meet like-minded people.

“Half of the people are terrified and will be going by themselves and I have set up a group to help them settle their nerves before going.”

On the Saturday night of the festival, there would be a silent disco, from midnight until 2am.

During this part of the event, three DJs will be competing against each other, with music playing on different channels on headphones worn by attendees.

The festival has been marketed online as “the hottest lesbian ticket of 2021” and is strictly for “lesbian, bi, transgender and queer women”.

An event listing details: “26 incredible acts, singers and DJs all delivering a packed weekend of music. It’s going to be one huge party and the place to go.”

Live music would be playing from 5pm to 9pm on the Friday, 11am until 9pm on the Saturday and noon until 9pm on Sunday.

DJ sets would then play until midnight on each of the three nights, with lower level music from midnight on the Friday, a silent disco from midnight on the Saturday and background music only from midnight on the Sunday.

Asked about the restriction of the festival to LGBT female attendees, a spokesperson for FemmeFest said: “There are approximately 240 festivals in the UK that are open for any gender to attend.

“FemmeFest is the only music/dance festival that will provide a safe and secure space where lesbian, bi, transgender and queer women can meet like minded women and enjoy a weekend of music within a comfortable environment.”