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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 May 2008, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Big Weekend begins in Maidstone
Fans running at the opening of Big Weekend
Fans run to the front of the stage to try and get the best spot

Thousands of music fans are at Mote Park in Maidstone for the first day of Radio 1's Big Weekend.

Usher kicked off the action around 1.30pm on Saturday (GMT).

The biggest draw of the day will be main stage headliner Madonna, as the queen of pop plays her only UK festival date of the summer.

30,000 people are expected over the two days, and more than half a million people applied for tickets.

The event is the biggest free ticketed music festival in Europe and has previously been held in Dundee and Preston.

Following a countdown by Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman, the gates to Mote Park were opened at exactly midday.

Fans at the front of the queue sprinted to get to the front of the main stage.
Greg from Scouting For Girls
Greg from Scouting For Girls gets in the spirit

Prior to their appearance later in the day, Scouting For Girls serenaded fans, performing an acoustic version of their recent single She's So Lovely, with the crowd joining in on the chorus.

Louise from Sittingbourne was first in the queue with her mates.

She told Newsbeat: "We've been here since half past eight this morning and it is hot. We are looking forward to seeing Madonna and Scouting For Girls."

14-year-old Chrissy from Gravesend came to the festival with her sister.

She said: "It's the first time we've ever been to anything like this, we're waiting until the end of the show to see Madonna. The weather is beautiful. It's just a bonus really."

Madonna's set list will include her current number one single 4 Minutes and some tracks from her chart topping album, Hard Candy.

Speaking to Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley, she said: ďObviously, I want to do new stuff because Iím very excited about it.

Madonna is set to play songs from her new album Hard Candy

"I feel thatís what people come to hear but I also want to do a few of my oldies but goodies.

"I chose Hung Up because that was the biggest hit from my last record and I chose Music because itís a crowd pleaser, itís anthemic and it brings people together.Ē

She's staying tight lipped on whether she'll sneak her current collaborator, Justin Timberlake, into the show.

Main stage

Among the bands playing on the main stage later will be Duffy, The Feeling and The Fratellis - who played last year's event in Preston.

Singer Jon Fratelli said: "I think we broke some windows last year, playing football.

I want to do new stuff because Iím very excited about it but I also want to do a few of my oldies but goodies.

"It was Kasabian's window, we didn't mean it.

"We'll bring a ball again and see what mayhem ensues."

Editors have the unenviable task of headlining the In New Music We Trust stage, competing with Madonna for a share of the crowd.

They will be joined on that stage by The Futureheads, We Are Scientists and Guillemots.

Guillemots singer Fyfe Dangerfield said: "It's the first festival we've done in ages so we're looking forward to it.

"We're getting in the spirit, running around and partying."

Swedish pop singer Robyn is thrilled to part of it.

She said: "We have a small band but we make a lot of noise.

"Our show is like a club show no matter where we play, inside or outside in a bigger venue.

"It's all about getting the crowd hyped."

We have a small band but we make a lot of noise

An outdoor DJ stage will be headlined by Fatboy Slim ahead of his appearance at the Wireless Festival in July.

The Enemy play the main stage on Sunday. Singer Tom Clark is impressed with the bands on the bill.

He told Chris Moyles: "You've somehow managed to get a better line up than Glastonbury, I think it's amazing.

"I'd like to see The Pigeon Detectives, I've never seen them live."

The Kooks headline the main stage on Sunday with Jack White's band, The Raconteurs, over on the INMWT stage.

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