Councillor to become Queen of Sandal Castle with free music festival this weekend

Coun Johnson (centre) will be Freddie Mercury
Coun Johnson (centre) will be Freddie Mercury

A Wakefield councillor will break free from his everyday role this weekend - by starring as Queen’s front man Freddie Mercury at a free music festival at Sandal Castle.

Karl Johnson, who was recently appointed ward representative for the Wakefield south ward, is no stranger to the spotlight having been a professional singer for more than 20 years.

And the 44-year-old will be putting in a Killer Queen performance this Saturday as he headlines the upcoming Castle Rock festival at the castle.

He said: “I’m massively looking forward to it, I don’t play too often in Wakefield so I’m looking forward to people seeing a different side to me.

“Music brings people together regardless of their political persuasion.”

The festival this Sunday, July 21, is the first of its kind to be held at Sandal Castle and will see several tribute acts performing, including Dolly Parton and Elton John, as well as original local artists. There will also be a local magician performing.

Held from 11am to 4pm, entry is free and Coun Johnson is expecting a good turnout.

He said: “The tribute market is huge at the moment.

“Since Bohemian Rhapsody [The Queen movie] came out last year I have been so busy, I’ve been doing two or three nights a week and I’m booked up.

“We’re wanting to people to get dressed up as music legends because there will be competitions and prizes.”

Having undergone restoration work in recent years, event opportunities at the castle have been limited, but Sunday’s event is first for the ancient ruins.

Keith Souter, of the Friends of Sandal Castle said: “We have had the police brass band on several occasions, but this is our first contemporary music event, which we are excited about.”

People are being encouraged to park at the Manygates Education Centre and bring along a picnic, although food and drink will be available.