By Tommy Gaboreau
The August bank holiday is the busiest weekend of the year for festivals. From the commercial behemoths of Reading and Leeds, to the alternative fairlyland of Shambala, to the pounding fist-pump-athon of Creamfields, up and down the country, people are preparing for musical celebrations of all different shapes and sizes. I’m excited to say I’ll be making my way to a wee gem called Solfest.
To describe Solfest to someone who’s never been before, you can’t emphasise enough the purity of motivation which goes into the production each year. So many successful festivals bend and twist over time to fit some sort of commercial mould, but Solfest, deep in the heart of Cumbria, maintains a minty freshness while still staying true to its roots in every way. It is made possible through the hard work of a small and dedicated team, who’s goal is not to maximise profits, but to produce something beautiful.
Solfest exists as a celebration of culture, and in this context, culture means two things: It’s the welcoming friendliness, the readiness to embrace our fellow festival-goers with open arms which truly defines every good northern festival, and it’s the outward looking, open-minded appreciation of what the rest of the world has to offer. Whether we’re talking about different counties or different continents, Solfest has a host of folk from near and far providing a fine medley of music, food, activities, workshops and more to keep you entertained and busy throughout the weekend.
Whilst being family friendly (actually family friendly, like, genuinely a nice place for children to be, rather than just a rave with a slightly quieter section of camping, like some ‘family friendly’ festivals), there are also plenty of opportunities for nocturnal mischief once the small people have called it a night.
If I were pressed to give my line-up tips for the weekend, I’d have to say make sure you’re at the drystone stage for Slamboree. More than a musical performance, Slamboree never fail to provide an audio-visual spectacle. Their tagline - ‘Pyro Circus Rave Massive’ – says more than I ever could. Also on the drystone, you’ll find the up-and-coming Maxiroots, led by Argentinian Maxi with their irresistible blend of Latin cumbia and UK electronic sounds, with some tight live brass and percussion thrown in for a treat. Take a peek at the line-up and you’ll definitely spot your own personal picks, but the good thing about a festival this size is you’ve ample opportunity to discover new music. With that in mind, my final tip would be head down to Unity Sessions after dark for some chest-shakingly good jungle and UK bass.
Tickets for the full weekend are only around £120, hope to see you in front of a sound system soon.