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Black Deer festival suspended as storms hit site


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One of Kent's largest outdoor events was suspended after storms hit the festival site during the headline act.

Rock band The Waterboys had started their set at the Black Deer festival in Eridge Park when storms forced organisers to pull the plug.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys. Picture: Paul MacManus
Mike Scott of The Waterboys. Picture: Paul MacManus

It led to lengthy queues for people trying to leave the site by car on shuttle bus while those camping overnight were urged to shelter in their tents.

Announcing the decision to suspend the festival, organisers said: "Due to the extreme weather conditions in the area of Black Deer Festival last night, we took the decision to temporarily suspend performances on all stages.

"The safety of everyone on-site was our top priority and we'd again like to thank festival-goers for their patience and understanding."

The festival is due to continue today with acts including Van Morrison taking to the stage.

Van Morrison will headlining tonight's Black Deer festival
Van Morrison will headlining tonight's Black Deer festival

Organisers tweeted this morning: "Thanks again for your cooperation last night. We're planning to open the arena as scheduled and looking forward to welcoming you back for Day Three. Prepare for wet weather and we'll see you soon for a Sunday to remember."

The storm was a nightmare scenario for organisers and festival-goers, who had enjoyed glorious weather on the opening day on Friday when headliners included James and Jake Bugg.

Many people took to social media to tell of their 'shambolic' experience trying to leave the site - but others said the organisers could not have predicted such extreme weather.

Rob Horsfall-Turner described it as a 'horror show', while Antonia Jewels tweeted: "Not one steward in the car park. Who are these people helping? Very poor organisation in such dangerous weather conditions."

Huge crowds have descended on the Black Deer Festival
Huge crowds have descended on the Black Deer Festival

Another user tweeted: "It was a complete shambles. It would have been better to advise everyone to take shelter rather than evacuate. Minimal announcements and no obvious emergency evacuation plan. This was a foreseeable scenario with no obvious planning. More buses are also required in any weather."

Rich Goff added: "Really felt for The Waterboys - just getting into their stride. But couldn’t be helped. Brilliant day otherwise - really excellent."

The festival has returned for the first time in three years after the 2020 and 2021 events were called off due to Covid.

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