Preview: Icebreaker Festival 2024

Winter is always a difficult time of the year for a lot of us, but one of the highlights is always the return of Southsea’s Icebreaker Festival, a fantastic showcase of some of the best-unsigned bands from the South Coast and the rest of the UK on the 3rd of February 2024. It is also the 10th-anniversary celebration since the first one on the 31st of January 2014 at The Fox and there are going to be some exciting new elements to this years lineup.

I’ve attended the festival a few times and am very excited to see what this one brings. It’s such an amazing idea to have so many of Southsea’s favourite venues involved in one day and an opportunity to meet new people and see new bands as well as firm favourites on the local music scene.

I had a chance to speak to Mike Hartley, the founder of Icebreaker Festival and ask a couple of questions in the lead-up to the day – Where did the idea of icebreaker come from?Before we formed Icebreaker, we used to run promotion nights at The (Fat) Fox and The Wedgewood Rooms under Pilot Promotions. There were discussions of us creating a festival for local artists, however, were not sure of the time of year to put it on until we hosted a show on the 31st of January 2014 at The Fox which we expected to be quiet, turned into full capacity for the whole night. We quickly realised this is what our music scene may need, at that time of year!

Favourite bands you’re looking forward to seeing?Very, very difficult question! One that I cannot possibly answer, all of them?

Favourite venue for the festival?I cannot speak for the whole team; however, my favourite venue is The Wedgewood Rooms. I’ve been fortunate to be associated with the venue since 2001 and have gained valuable experience as a performer, promoter, and customer. Like all venues involved with the festival, Geoff and his team have been extremely supportive of us since the beginning and it remains vital that independent music venues like The Wedgewood Rooms remain in place and thrive for many, many years to come.

Anything new this year that’s been different from the past years?Our only change this year is that we’ve introduced a secret headliner which we are excited about and will be announced soon.

Icebreaker 2023 – Tony Palmer


Icebreaker is a fantastic event which helps blow away those winter blues, especially as there is such a wide mix of talent and genres. Over 80 acts are playing 8 different venues, 9 stages across Albert Road / Elm Grove, which is an amazing opportunity to see some firm favourites as well as discover someone new too

Icebreaker 2023 – Tony Palmer


A few bands I am excited to see are local headliners Seething Akira, Fake Empire and The Bottom Line who are back-to-back at the Wedgewood Rooms as well as new favourites Bottomless Brunch, playing the Edge.Also looking forward to seeing Jordan Duke for the first time at The One Eyed Dog and the ever-talented, The Fugitive Orchestra.From what I’ve heard from Mike and the others involved, it’s going to be a special celebration and a lot to see and experience over the day.


                                 Words by Hannah Kenyon


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