In the late summer of 2005 Simon Taffe decided that he wanted to start a festival. A music obsessive and festival-goer, Simon dreamed about booking the bands he loved and presenting them at the sort of festival that he’d like to attend. He talked to family and friends including Jason Lehner and Philip Wicks. Then he approached an old friend, and fellow music lover, Sofia Hagberg. She was very enthusiastic and committed immediately to starting a festival with Simon. A few months later she quit her job to join End of the Road as co-founder. Philip Wicks joined to look after the finances and provide organisational backbone.
The first year, 2006, was a creative triumph, but a financial disaster. The team held its nerve and soldiered on with generous help from several supportive lenders. The critical reception continued to be hugely positive with more and more people coming along each time. The third year broke even, ensuring the future of the festival.
Today, End of the Road remains true to its initial dream: to book the bands that we love and present them in a way that respects the music and the audience. End of the Road is not about any particular style of music. Rather it evolves depending on what excites us each year, but great songwriting has always been valued. You can see the evolution of the line-up here.
End of the Road has a unique atmosphere, relaxed and friendly but serious about music. The site is designed in a way that we, as festival lovers, enjoy. The beautiful pleasure gardens at Larmer Tree form an ideal place to create a woodland wonderland, strewn with art installations and decorated spaces. From the start Jason Lehner has been in charge of site decoration, so much of the End of the Road aesthetic is his.
We try to make sure that everything on site is the way that we like it: good but not crazily expensive food (organic and local where possible), a wide range of local ales and other drinks at the bars, and caring and well-mannered staff. There is a musical edge to almost everything on site with the literary and film programmes being rich in musically-related material.
There are no VIP areas, and you’ll often find musicians wandering about the site and watching other bands’ shows. Sometimes spontaneous performances result.
Enough words: if you have been you know what we are talking about. If not come along and find out!
The EOTR Team
Simon Taffe – Director and Curator / Artist Manager
Lauren Down – Managing Director
Benny Locke – Festival Co-Ordinator
Polly Barker – Head of Production
Joana Gonçalves – Head of Marketing
Matt Harris – Assistant Artist Manager
Co-founder Sofia Genders (née Hagberg) retired as a director in February 2015
Philip Wicks retired as a director in April 2017
James Strathallan retired as a director in July 2020
2019 Reviews & Awards
“A weekend of unexpected thrills” 5/5 The Independent
“The future looks swell for what’s inarguably the best-curated festival of the summer” ‘Best Small Festival’ NME Awards 2015, 2016 & 2019
“End of the Road is the best festival in the UK and attendance is mandatory for all who like their music eclectic and their countryside beautiful” Clash
“A winning mix of bacchanalia and earthy mysticism” 5/5 The Guardian
“A hotbed of the experimental… If you ever needed proof that music in 2019 is as challenging, diverse and interesting as ever, this festival was it” The Times
“The sheer depth of this year’s line-up that felt greater than ever before. Unlike other festivals it was packed with intriguing, vibrant, essential new stuff from the moment the stages flicked the power on.” Loud And Quiet
“The most charming, weird, fun and magical festival in the UK hit its fourteenth year with a line-up that captured all that’s great in new music” The Line Of Best Fit
“2019 Favourite Festival” BBC Radio 6 Music Festival Survey 2019
Michael Kiwanuka at End of The Road 2019 Q Awards “Best Live Performance” winner