Rotherham Real Ale & Music Festival reaches for the sky

The Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival is reaching for the skies and organisers are calling on beer lovers to come together to support its Battle of Britain-themed beer spectacular, which returns later this month.

Set to return to Magna between 27th-29th February, festival organisers have teamed up with South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum and visited the Doncaster-based museum to officially launch this year’s festival, alongside competition winner Kesia Elliott.

The 25 year old furniture designer impressed judges with her RAF-inspired design, which will feature on this year’s festival glasses, as well as being used throughout the popular event, which is set to welcome over 5,000 visitors during the three day event.

The RAF themed festival was chosen to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and to celebrate the important role South Yorkshire played in defending Britain’s shores from invasion during the summer of 1940. Inside the festival, bars will be named after some of the iconic aircraft which took part in the first major campaign to be fought solely in the skies.

For the first time the festival will also host a special gin bar and has also been chosen as just one of two festivals in the UK which will receive an exclusive beer, produced by Timothy Taylors. Throughout the three day event a diverse range of live entertainment will take to the stages inside the festival, bringing together some of the best local bands and tribute acts in the business.

Those magnificent men (and women!) and their drinking machines will also crown the festival’s highly coveted Champion Beer of Yorkshire.

Proceeds from the event will be used to support Rotherham Cancer Care Centre which provides support to people who have cancer or been affected by the disease, by providing a range of therapies and counselling sessions designed to improve quality of life.

However, festival organiser Steve Burns has urged beer lovers to back the popular event, and warned that this year’s festival could be the last.

Steve Burns, Festival Organiser, said: “The festival plays an important role within the local community and it was one of the reasons why this year, we decided to launch a logo competition. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and the judges had a tough decision and Kesia’s design proved to be a worthy winner.

“This year’s festival promises to offer something a little different. We’ve chosen beers from across the UK to reflect the Battle of Britain theme, and teamed up with South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum to bring a few surprises to this year’s festival. We’re also showcasing some amazing new beers which have never been tasted before as well as a fantastic entertainment line-up.

“For many the Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival is one of the highlights of the annual social calendar. However, our last outing was severely affected by circumstances beyond our control. To paraphrase Churchill, never has so much been enjoyed by so many, as a result of the efforts of so few and we’re hoping to rekindle part of the blitz spirit to ensure that this year’s festival is not our last.”

Kesia Elliott, competition winner, said: “I’ve visited the festival for a number of years and always enjoyed it. When I saw the chance to get involved with this year’s event, I decided to put my creative skills to the test and I was shocked when I received the telephone call saying that I’d won the competition. It’s been amazing seeing my design featured on this year’s posters and I’m really looking forward to this year’s festival.”

Alan Beattie, Chairman, South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum said: “When most people think about the Battle of Britain, they think about the dogfights which took place in the skies across the South East of England, but South Yorkshire also played an important role in the conflict. 616 Squadron, South Yorkshire’s own, was formed at Doncaster and fought in the skies over southern England during the battle. Many other squadrons operated from RAF bases in Yorkshire throughout the war, including some being based at Firbeck.”

“2020 is an important year for the RAF, and when the organisers of the festival invited us to get involved with this year’s event, we felt it was a great opportunity to help people find out more about how the Battle of Britain affected the lives of people living in South Yorkshire”.

Since hosting its first festival in 1992 at Oakwood Comprehensive School, the Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival has grown to become one of the most popular beer and music festivals in the north of England. In 2010, the festival relocated to Magna and since that time, proceeds from the event have been used to support a wide range of good causes throughout South Yorkshire.

CAMRA members and HM Forces personnel can visit the festival free of charge on Thursday evening and tickets are available from selected pubs across South Yorkshire.