Sunday, 2 June 2013

10 things to do at Indietracks this year!

(Photo: missekawasaki)

Indietracks isn’t just about the amazing bands, inspiring workshops, crazy discos, fine food and carefully selected real ales! There’s also a wide range of attractions at the steam railway site.  Many of these will already be familiar to some Indietracks visitors, but we just thought it would be worth posting up about a few things for anyone visiting for the first time this year!

1. Take advantage of the free steam train rides
Seven years on from the first Indietracks, and we still get excited by the train whistles, puffs of steam and the old style train carriages! You can watch a band or two playing in one of the carriages, or just gaze dreamily out of the window at the glorious Derbyshire countryside! Steam train rides are free all day.

Most visitors will arrive at the Butterley entrance to the Midland Railway (unless  you’re camping), in which case your first Indietracks experience will be taking a short steam train trip to our main festival site at Swanwick Junction – a great way to start the weekend!

2. Take a walk in the country park
This is less well known than the steam train rides, of course, but just as wonderful. Beyond the Swanwick Junction museum area, there’s 35 acres of gorgeous woodland, with a wide range of wildlife areas and great views of the steam trains. There’s further details and suggested walking routes here: Midland Railway Country Park

3. Impromptu performances in the merchandise tent
The merchandise tent is not only a treasure trove of indiepop bargains and other fabulous stalls. There’s also the occasional impromptu acoustic performance, as coordinated by our favourite record labels during the weekend, and sometimes advertised via a lovingly crafted piece of A4 paper displayed among the records, CDs and cassettes.  We’ll try and tweet about them over the weekend, but it will be a mystery to us too!   

(White Town performing in our merch tent in 2011. Photo: Another Form Of Relief)

4. Visit the Matthew Kirtley Museum
Sometimes overlooked among all the bands and workshops, we’d definitely recommend taking a look around amazing museum. There’s a unique collection of locomotives and rolling stock covering steam, diesel and electric power from the 1860s to the present day. It also houses a significant collection of vintage carriages restored at the Midland Railway!

(Photo: davidwilsonclarke)  

5. Hit the railway memorabilia shop
A chance to stock up on railway-themed souvenirs. You can buy proper train driver caps, "choo choo" kazoo-style whistles, postcards, posters and all sorts! The shop is nestled in the newly-built Swanwick station building, which was of course refurbished with the support of generous donations from Indietracks visitors a couple of years ago – thank you again!

6. Enjoy the Golden Valley Light Railway
This narrow gauge train ride runs through the nearby country park. On its journey, it also goes past our outdoor  stage, so you can wave at the audience as you glide past in style.  There’s bonus points if you can get a band to wave at you from the stage!

7. Hit the Road Transport Gallery
The large building below Johnson’s Buffet houses a collection of historic fork lift trucks and road vehicles. Last year, they were using a vintage restored steamroller to crush empty drink cans, and there’s also lots of buses from way back in the day.

8. Children’s play area
Allow your children to let off some of their own steam (ha!) at the railway’s play area, next to the church stage. There’s even a wooden replica train and carriages. Useful if you want to distract a child from asking you to buy them a ukulele.

9. Visit the town of Ripley
Ripley is more than just somewhere to stock up on camping supplies, sun cream and whichever clothes you forgot to pack. As well as high street shops and a couple of pubs, there’s some 19th-century architecture such as Butterley Hall, and the rather impressive Church of All Saints, erected near to the market place in 1820-21, which has a distinctive tower. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even visit the Denby Pottery Visitor Centre.

10. Ride the Butterley Miniature Railway
This might be the best kept secret at Indietracks. In fact, we haven’t actually been on this ourselves, or even met anyone that has actually been on the miniature railway. Anyway, there’s a path leading from either side of the Matthew Kirtley Building up to the Butterley Park Miniature Railway. This line goes around a park behind the museum and operates every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from Easter to the end of September, so it should be open on the last day of Indietracks.

There’s a map of the Swanwick Junction site here, which shows where to find the museums, miniature railway, light railway and country park (our outdoor stage will be right in the middle!): Swanwick Junction map

Do tell us if you think there's anything we've missed! Write to or just leave a comment here!


  1. An excellent list. I'd add taking a walk to Indietracks from Butterley up through the country track. If it's muddy (like last year) it can involve getting your tights filthy but the views are beautiful and it's a unique and pleasant walk.

  2. Good suggestion, thanks very much!

  3. I just told my daughter about the play area but she said "I will be too busy dancing".

  4. I'd add visiting the model railway shed and the buffet for a pasty. Can't wait!