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Underneath the Stars Festival Gender Balanced Music Line-Up

Jun 27, 2022

Underneath the Stars festival is leading the march for gender balance at festivals, announcing its final music line-up with a 50/50 artist split including an all-female headline bill, Imelda May (Friday), Kate Rusby (Saturday) and Suzanne Vega (Sunday).

This year, the festival worked with The F List, a directory of approximately 5,000 UK female/nonbinary musicians and bands to improve the diversity of the festival’s line-up and is one of the first UK festivals to achieve this in 2022.

Running Friday 29th – Sunday 31st July, at Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley the festival’s ethos has always been to create a gender-balanced music bill, representing a range of artists from a host of musical styles from ska, Americana, folk, soul to brass bands and indie.

Underneath the Stars Programmer Eddie Barcan said: “We do hope one day that an all-female headline bill will be unremarkable, and that fairly balanced bills will be the norm.  Every festival of all sizes and genres plays its part in the eco-system of the music industry and I hope soon the statistics, the campaigning, the female musicians talking about their experiences, and the barriers they have faced, will have a positive impact on the diversity of all our festival stages. I’m proud to work with Underneath the Stars, which is at the forefront of striving for gender balance in the festival industry.”

The issue of achieving gender balance at festivals has been high on the industry’s agenda in recent years, but many have struggled to meet the mark. Underneath the Stars is proudly gender-balanced, with leading female artists including, Imelda May, Suzanne Vega and Kate Rusby, as well solo artists and all-female and female-led bands The Big Moon, This is the Kit, Billie Marten, Davina and the Vagabonds, Lanterns on the Lake, Azure Ryder, Iona Lane, Hannah Williams and the Affirmations, Trousdale and Kinnaris Quintet. The boutique festival provides vital opportunities for upcoming female artists, as well as a creating a small and beautiful venue for established artists who prefer more intimate gigs.

Imelda May – 📸 Credit IM.Press

Led by the team who represent artists for the independent music label, Pure Records, at Underneath the Stars it is equally important for the festival to have a gender-balanced team behind the scenes, as it is to have an on-stage balanced line-up. To not only tackle the imbalance of statistics within festival line-ups, but to encourage the wider festival and music industry as a whole to become more inclusive.

Festival Director Emma Holling says: “Despite being a smaller, regional family-friendly festival, we have shown that achieving gender balance at festivals is possible, and every other festival should be working on making a positive impact on the diversity of all of our festival stages.

“We are a female-led team with a very strong female presence below this, and we share this ethos across our wider Underneath the Stars family. From our volunteers, to food and drink vendors, the family workshop activities, as well as a gender-balanced line-up of music artists, inclusivity is at the festival’s core. Let’s work together to remove gendered music genres, and improve representation at festivals.”

Headlining the family favourite event on Friday is Imelda May. One of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists, Imelda has performed with Bono, Tom Jones, Noel Gallagher, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison, and joins Underneath the Stars for 2022, performing favourite hits and songs from her extraordinary album, 11 Past the Hour.

Kate Rusby 📸 Credit David Angel

Fan favourite and Barnsley’s own nightingale, Kate Rusby will perform Saturday. Often hailed as the ‘first lady of folk’, and an Underneath the Stars festival figurehead, Kate celebrates 30 years of touring this year. With a back-catalogue stretching over three decades, Kate will perform a selection of highlights, including those from her most recent albums, and from her forthcoming album 30: Many Happy Returns. 

Closing the weekend in spectacular fashion, Suzanne Vega, will mark the final performance of Underneath the Stars 2022. Regarded as one of the foremost songwriters of her generation, her self-titled debut album sold 1 million copies with her follow-up Solitude Standing nominated for three Grammys, including Record of the Year.

Suzanne Vega 📸 Credit S Holz

Returning for 2022, Underneath the Stars will have two covered stages beneath big top tents, so festival-goers are guaranteed to enjoy classic Underneath the Stars live music performances without an umbrella. The tents will have no walls ensuring an unrestricted view of the two main stages for festival-goers sat outside, and better ventilation for those inside. Plus, with a new layout and standing areas, audiences have the perfect spots for dancing in their wellies!

Underneath the Stars festival has enjoyed great successes thus far across the UK festival scene, taking home the Small Festival of the Year and prestigious Judge’s Award at the National Outdoor Event Association Awards in 2019.

Championing diversity, and accessibility, the festival has also gained an Attitude is Everything Silver Charter Award. AIE is a disability-led charity supporting non-profit and commercial organisations to make what they do more accessible and inclusive for Deaf and disabled people. Its Charter improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists, and the music industry.

Weekend tickets are now available to buy, which include three days of music, fun and festivities in the beautiful corner of Yorkshire at Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley. Available to buy here:


Friday 29th July

Imelda May

This Is The Kit

Billie Marten

Davina and the Vagabonds

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys

The Trials of Cato

N’famady Kouyate

Stone Jets

Saturday 30th July

Kate Rusby

The Big Moon

An Audience with Adrian Edmondson

Penguin Cafe

The Brighouse & Rastrick Band

The Haggis Horn

Will Varley

The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican

Kinnaris Quintet

Will Varley


Flatcap Carnival

Sunday 31st July

Suzanne Vega

An Audience with Jason Manford

The Young’uns

Dustbowl Revival

Lanterns On The Lake

Tankus the Henge

Hannah Williams and the Affirmations

Damien O’Kane & Ron Block

Intergalactic Brasstronauts

Azure Ryder

Iona Lane

Full line up is below:

For further information visit:


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