Countdown continues to first Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth

THE clock is ticking to the first band taking the stage at Knebworth's Sonisphere Festival. Gates for the weekend music event opened for early campers yesterday (Thursday). And in less than 24 hours' time SOiL will play the opening chords of the inaugural

THE clock is ticking to the first band taking the stage at Knebworth's Sonisphere Festival.

Gates for the weekend music event opened for early campers yesterday (Thursday) and in less than 24 hours' time SOiL will kick-off the inaugural Sonisphere on the second Saturn stage.

Linkin Park will headline the opening night on Saturday, with metal legends Metallica closing proceedings the following day.

As festival-goers arrive at the stately home in their thousands, the Welwyn & Hatfield Times caught up with Stuart Galbraith, the man behind Sonisphere.


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Speaking backstage, the festival director said: "It feels good. Everything's on track, the team's working well and the weather forecast sounds good as well."

Hundreds of workers have been busy building the stages, the Bohemia village and setting out the campsite over the past fortnight.

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Knebworth Park will effectively become a village in its own right for the next few days with around 45,000 metal fans - plus a further 3,500 backstage crew and retailers working behind the scenes - on site.

Knebworth is the final date of the touring festival's first pan-European trek.

Galbraith said: "Knebworth is our sixth Sonisphere. We were in Finland last weekend, Sweden the weekend before that, Spain, Germany and Holland and they have all been fantastic.

"They have all worked very, very well. Finland last weekend in particular was brilliant.

"We had 60,000 people sold out and Metallica came off stage beaming. They absolutely loved it."

On setting up a new festival in tough economic times, Galbraith said: "We're very pleased. To achieve what we have in our first year, we're over the moon.

"We are going to have about 45,000 people per day here over the weekend.

"While it is not sold out, we could have done as much as 60,000, we are very happy with the result in year one."

He hopes the two-day festival will become a permanent fixture on the rock calendar.

Galbraith said: "We're an annual event and barring any major mishaps at the weekend, we will be back at the same time next year, towards middle to end of summer, late July, early August."

Organisers have already been in discussions with a potential headliner for the 2010 festival for months.

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