20-22 June 2014
Reviewed by Kirsty Moorhouse
We handed the kids into my sister’s care and headed off with a 2 man tent to Beverley Racecourse to enjoy a weekend of music.
As soon as we arrived you could tell it was going to be a well organised affair. The signs were clear, the parking plenty, and each entrance had at least 2 members of staff able to answer queries and direct people to where they needed to be.
Parked up, signed in and collected our wristband we headed off down the path to the camping area, a beautiful meadow sprinkled with two and four man tents (though with ample room for all the festival goers, even if they had brought large tents and awnings) only a two minute walk from the main festival entrance.
We quickly pitched and headed to the main festival area, we could hear the tantalising music drifting over the field and didn’t want to miss any! The staff on the gate were checking wrist bands to ensure only people who held a ‘weekend camping band’ could access the area through these gates, and were a visible presence to anyone wishing to cause trouble.
The festival area itself was compact but had plenty of room for the people milling around and all the tents/areas were clearly posted (we had also been given a plan of the festival which was beautifully clear as well). The few areas of wet ground and main walkways were covered by solid plastic so for once you didn’t have to wade through mud, a great improvement on some festivals we have attended.
We headed straight to the main tent at the far end of the festival arena, past the plentiful food area (with a large undercover eating area, one of the best ideas at a festival I have seen, especially for an evening when there was a bit of a chill in the air), past the stalls (charity awareness stalls, snack/sweet stalls, clothing, jewellery, natural lotions and potions, and other bits and bobs), past the handcrafted tent (I will come back to this amazing area), past the outdoor stage and seating area, past the kids tent (crafts, activities and musical delights throughout the weekend, including performing on the outdoor stage) and towards Billy Braggs unmistakeable voice.
The main tent was a lot bigger than it looked from the outside and although there were many people, both seated and standing, it didn’t feel over crowded or claustrophobic. The sound was excellent even though there was a huge area to fill and we stood happily listening for quite a while. People came and went without fuss or a need to queue whilst security kept a note of band colours entering.
Tickets were sold separately for acts as well as day and weekend tickets. Also entrance to the festival area was free, but the band tents were only able to be accessed by paying festival goers. Security were very effective at letting the right people into the right areas, counting numbers in and out and did an excellent job throughout the whole weekend.
The World Top marquee, our late night point of call, was a lovely carpeted, homely venue where artists played sets during the day and then had a ‘Late Night Festival Club’ on an evening where artists that were playing over the weekend came and did smaller sets in an informal surrounding. This was probably my favourite part of the festival. We discovered a few new acts to add to our home playlist. The hay bales for seats and cosy yurt feel of this tent meant people were relaxed and let their hair down. The tent could have done with being a little bit bigger as on an evening when the main stages had finished this was the area everyone flocked to and there wasn’t quite enough room for everyone on the Saturday night, meaning people were queuing to get in.
There was a small outdoor stage with a raised seating area which had a variety of acts including dance schools, individual artists, traditional folk dancers and some acoustic playing from the bands we’d seen playing the other stages. It was a great way to relax and kill a bit of time before the next ‘must see’ act on our list. It would have been nice to have a list of upcoming acts on this stage so we could have perhaps caught something we may have missed but as the weather was so warm sitting on the grass and watching some impromptu acts perform was lovely.
We also caught a few acts in the ‘Concert Marquee’, a reasonable sized, mainly seated tent which had a stage at one end and a bar at the other. Again the sound was great and the atmosphere lively.
The main racecourse building was the venue for the some music workshops which ran over the whole weekend. Ranging from trying your hand (voice?!?) at Gaelic singing to creative writing to tuning instruments there seemed to be something for everyone. We didn’t get a chance to attend any, however my other half said WHEN we attend next year he’s going to sign up.
The main building also had ‘The Westwood Sessions’ a performance area for young performers to show what they could do. We caught a few of these performances and the talent was amazing. A brilliant idea giving the young musicians a chance to show off their musical talents.
Finally in the main building we watched some wonderful comedy by Sean Hughes, full to capacity we only just got in to the snug bar, glad we did as it was a great set.
I said I would come back to the Craft Marquee. This tent was filled with leather work, pottery, metal work, fleece craft and many more handmade craft items. If I had known how large the range would be, and how reasonable the prices were for such amazing items I would have brought my Christmas shopping list! The stall owners were all happy to show you how the crafts were made, many making them as you watched. Just a lovely addition to the festival.
I cannot do a review of Beverley Folk Festival without mentioning the Food and Drink as both were wonderful. The Festival Ale, provided by Wold Top Brewery was our alcohol of choice for the weekend (though we tried the other Wold Top beers, just to be thorough), it never ran out, it was reasonably priced (£3.20 a pint), and tasted just as a festival ale should. The food was the best I have ever had at a festival (and I have just attended one that claimed this honour only to have it quickly stripped by Beverley). Lots of options for vegetarian, allergy sufferers and general snackers alike. All at reasonable prices and for the most part locally sourced.
Tickets for this year were on sale for the weekend for £125 for adults (children under 12 go for free) and £20 additional charge for weekend camping. Well worth the cost considering how much was going on.
Overall, a great festival catering for all ages. We’ll definitely be going again!
For more information visit www.beverleyfestival.com.