“Not just music based, but a great day out at an inner-city site” – An Interview with Docklands Festival Founder, Ryan Keary


With Freshers 2019 fast approaching, and all-new Docklands Fest set to be one of the highlights, we were lucky enough to talk to founder Ryan Keary about his vision, inspiration, reasons for staying in the music/promotions scene and all things festival!

What was your vision when creating Docklands Festival?

My main vision was to bring back to Southampton an inner-city festival for our thriving music scene, combining all the best acts from multi genres inside one area. We have built up some really strong House, Tech, DnB crowds over the years at Switch, WH parties etc. and now the time just felt right, after a lot of hardworking behind the scenes with Southampton city council, to bring a festival back to the city, especially now things like Common People etc. have disappeared. We trialled with some mini festivals over May Bank holiday with brands we work closely with, ABODE (Saturday) and On A Mission (Sunday) sold out both days – 6k per day – which gave me the confidence and assurance to know it was time to kick on and build something special for our crowds among the south coast.

What would you say about the festival to someone who has never been?

We like to think we put on some really fun parties over the years which have been based around big DJs but with amazing production, sound systems and peripheral entertainment. Docklands will bring together 10,000 people for an amazing day out of music, but also full fun fairs, and great food stalls so people can engage with each other in the sun whilst listening to some wicked music in the middle of the city centre.

What is your favourite thing about Docklands, or one of your highlights?

I think with any show, it’s when the masses have finally got through the doors, and the DJs start to fully engage with the crowds – it’s such a special feeling to witness, and because our crowds are so knowledgeable, it happens more often than not and then the day/night just gets better and better. There’s no better feeling than seeing thousands of people getting on and partying together in one field. 

What has kept you in the nightclub/festival scene for so long?

Passion. I absolutely adore what I do, always have, and over the years it’s built into a full-time job and business. People are always in such good spirits when coming to see their favourite DJs etc. We tend to put on nights that have headline DJs, so the crowds are always great as everyone has paid and look forward to being there in a dance, which means the crowds and atmospheres are unique and completely different to that of commercial clubs where you get mixes of stag/hen dos and office parties which makes for a feisty dance floor and odd vibe. 

Aside from any of your own, what is your favourite festival you have attended?

I go to a hell of a lot of festivals with work luckily and try to go and see as many acts and stages for inspiration as possible. However, recently I’d say Boomtown in the UK is an absolute must, the production and attention to detail is insane, and overseas wise Sonus Festival in Croatia is a really special place to go and party. Lovebox is a serious fun party and something I’d try to compare our Docklands model to over time. If we’re half as successful as them, I’d be pretty happy.

Lastly, what makes Docklands Festival unique?

Our model is based around the start of summer (May BH 8/9th 2020) and end of Summer – so we kind of get everyone in the mood for Summer and then close it. We are relatively small in the scheme of festivals but have massive ambitious to work hard and grow this out to something that’s not just music based, but a great day out at an inner-city site. It’s hard to be unique in this market, however our production and attention to detail will hopefully hold us in good stead.


If Ryan’s love and passion for festivals, providing a good time and his work have inspired you then don’t forget that you can still buy your tickets for Docklands Festival 2019. Alternatively, if freshers is already draining your bank account before it’s even begun, why not head on over to our Facebook page for your chance to win two complimentary tickets instead!

Docklands Festival will take place in Hoglands Park, Southampton over the 28th and 29th September, and tickets are available here


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