THE countdown has officially begun to Mid Cheshire’s leading live music festival, as Whatfest returns bigger and better for 2009.

Rudheath’s favourite sons The Shallow Call will return after a storming headline set at last year’s inaugural event, and organiser Simon Bennett is promising more household names will be revealed over the coming weeks.

Tickets officially go on sale next Wednesday, April 15. And early booking discounts are now available, with tickets starting from £17 per day, or £39 for a weekend pass.

“A couple of big bands have confirmed they’ll play,” said Simon. “No contracts have been signed yet but it’s 100% happening, it’s a done deal.

“We’re also chasing one more headline band, but all will be revealed in due course.”

Around 10,000 people are expected to attend the family- friendly festival, which will be held over three days at Shipbrook Hill Farm, Whatcroft from Friday-Sunday, July 17-19.

Only 1,200 tickets went on sale last year. But Simon says the “phenomenal” success of the first festival means the expanded site will be able to accommodate 15,000 this summer.

“The feedback I got last year, from bands and fans was tremendous,” he said. “We’ve got a huge wealth of music this time, with more than 40 bands performing on two stages.

“I’ve had to turn away about 100 bands, the interest has been incredible.”

Tickets are available, from next Wednesday, online at, or by calling 01606 46285. Alternatively they can be purchased at Riverside Organic Farm Shop, Whatcroft, and Northwich Tourist Information Centre, at The Arcade.