WORDS BY: KATIE CONWAY-FLOOD

Slam Dunk Festival has had its fair share of memories over the years. Slam Dunk, which is currently held in UK towns Leeds and Hatfield throughout the annual May Bank Holiday has hosted some mammoth names across several stages since the start of the alternative music festival some fourteen years ago. Now in the absence of the festival for this year, as part of our Festivals: Not Forgotten Campaign, today we’re reminiscing on the top moments from Slam Dunk Festival from over the years, both from the history of the festival and from YOU the readers and festival goers.

The First-Ever Slam Dunk Festival In 2006 

The year 2006 witnessed the birth of the first-ever Slam Dunk Festival. Alongside the likes of The Academy Is and Hundred Reasons, Fall Out Boy were the big act booked to send out the debuting year of the festival in Leeds’ Millenium Square coincidentally on a Saturday for the headliners no less. Priced at a mere £20 for a ticket to see some of the biggest names in the scene back then, the first-ever Slam Dunk was sure not to be missed. 

Paramore’s First And Only Slam Dunk Appearance In 2007 

Putting on their penultimate performance three years after announcing themselves to the world at Slam Dunk, Paramore’s 2007 set remains to this day thirteen years down the line as the bands only Slam Dunk Festival appearance. On the cusp of releasing their second studio album Riot! and with the group’s success growing exponentially by this point, Paramore put on a roaring set of some of the band’s biggest hits from their first full-length album. 

FAN PERSPECTIVE: Joshua Barron, Glasgow

“I love hardcore… I love pop punk… but most of all I love ska! Over the years Slam Dunk has continued to deliver on all counts but it’s the focus on ska that makes SD particularly special to me. Playing in a ska band myself, it’s pretty rare to find a place where you can spend an entire day watching the bands that got you into music in the first place… especially in the UK.”

CREDIT : SANDY DHALIWAL

Slam Dunk Expands And Adds A Second Day In 2010

Slam Dunk 2013 saw the British festival broaden their horizons and add a second day to the bank holiday-based music event. Following hot on the heels of the traditional Leeds date, Hatfield was the latest location to join the festival and to this day remains as the place down south where Slam Dunk travels to annually. Despite adding a third day in Wolverhampton and then switching to Birmingham later on down the line, it’s both Temple Newsam in Leeds and Hatfield Park that remain the staple North and South sites for Slammy D. 

CREDIT : ROCK SOUND/BEN GIBSON

Architects Play The Monster Energy Stage With Tom Searle In 2015 

Taking to their headlining slot on the Monster Energy Stage alongside other stages headliners You Me At Six, Reel Big Fish and The Wonder Years amongst many other acts, Architects’ line up was somewhat different in 2015. Featuring guitarist Tom Searle it was little knowledge to fans, the band and the music industry alike that this would, unfortunately, be Searle’s last Slam Dunk after tragically losing his battle with cancer the following year. A moving and momentous set in the history of Architects, this was a moment from Slam Dunk to never forget. 

CREDIT : DIY/RYAN JOHNSTON

5.  Slam Dunk Festivals Marks Its Tenth Anniversary In 2016 

A decade since its start in 2006, Slam Dunk celebrated its tenth anniversary of the festival in 2016 in style, with headliner Panic! At The Disco bringing the party to Leeds, Hatfield and then Birmingham with their show-stopping headlining set. 

FAN PERSPECTIVE: Macaully Moffat, Colchester

So it was my first Slam Dunk festival ever, I was pretty new to the genre of music, slowly becoming more of a pop punk fan. I was nervous but very excited. I was experiencing the pushing and jumping all day, thinking it was fun but a bit worried to properly get in the Mosh Pit and have fun, until State Champs…


These guys are one of my favourite bands to this day, and I was mega excited to see them. The whole time I was having fun and jumping to their best songs, my friend Lewis trying to get me in the mosh, but I was nervous. Until the final song, Secrets. When that hit, I just said, hey let’s just go for it. So sang my heart out, moshing with other fans, arms around everyone in the rain, having the absolute best time. And to this day, this is the best experience I have ever had, and has got me fully hooked on having the greatest days at the festival. Every year I go now with the same friends, and can’t wait to go back next year and do it all again.

CREDIT: HIT THE FLOOR/GRAHAM BERRY

Enter Shikari Celebrate The Anniversary Of Album Take To The Skies Headlining Slam Dunk Festival 2017 

Take To The Skies is the debut studio album by Enter Shikari. Released in March of 2007, in 2017 the record marked its milestone tenth anniversary and the band brought the entirety of their first full-length to life, especially for their live slot at Slam Dunk three years ago. From Sorry You’re Not A Winner to Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour, Shikari’s celebratory set was a special one. 

FAN’S PERSPECTIVE: Hannah Buckley, Kent

“I’ve been attending the festival for the last ten years. My favourite thing about Slam Dunk is you never know who you’ll be lucky enough to meet, be it a kindred spirit who loves live music as much as you do, or one of your favourite artists. I have fond memories of finding myself right next to Hannah Greenwood of Creeper and Frank Iero of MCR in a car park at Slam Dunk Midlands not knowing who to talk to first!”

CREDIT : SMOKING MERMAID ( YOUTUBE )

 A Literal Lightning Display Occurs Behind Good Charlotte’s Headlining Performance In 2018

Festivals are notoriously known for changeable weather conditions. Normally either tipping it down with rain to sweltering sunshine, the lightning display behind Good Charlotte’s headliner in 2018 was a welcome change. A spectacle of lights unbeknown to the band triggered by the day’s humidity, Hatfield welcomes the American band to the British field in some striking style. 

CREDIT : ROCK N’ LOAD MAG

 The Leeds Venue Moves In 2019

From Millenium Square to University Refectory and the City Centre to its current residence in Temple Newsam Park, Slam Dunk’s northern site in Leeds has travelled all over the city over the course of the festival’s fourteen years.

CREDIT : SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL

9.  Busted Are The Surprise Secret Set Band In 2019 

After a series of cryptic clues that teased a special slot by a band who’ve previously not performed at the festival before, it was later revealed that Busted were the surprise secret set band back in 2019. First playing the key club stage in Leeds before the festival made its way down south to Hatfield, Busted brought all the classic tunes of their back catalogue. Air Hostess, Crashed The Wedding and Year 3000 proved to be fan favourites off their spontaneous festival appearance. 

CREDIT : FORTITUDE MAG/JEMMA DODD

10.  All Time Low Bring Out A Real-Life Rainbow Opening Their Headlining Slot In 2019 

Admittedly triggered by the classic UK festival summertime weather mix of sunshine and showers during Neck Deep’s late afternoon main stage performance and not All Time Low’s presence, following on from previous years colourful weather displays, last year saw another one of nature’s wonders spread across the skies as headliners of that year All Time Low graced the main stage. A vibrant end to All Time Low’s more getaway green vibe and Slam Dunk 2019 itself. 

It seems from this list above that Slam Dunk has seen it all over the years. From the first-ever Slam Dunk Festival to All Time Low bringing out a real-life rainbow opening their headlining slot in 2019, these are a fraction of the many moments that make Slam Dunk a memorable festival for all pop-punk, emo, metal and alternative festival-goers alike. 

You can help continue to support Slam Dunk Festival by picking up one of the new merchandise designs (pictured above) HERE

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