Friday, 6 April 2018

Making plans for Summer - local festivals

As I've mentioned before, this year I'll again be holidaying from home, so I'm determined to make the most of it and discover what there is to do right here on my doorstep - and something I've been looking at is the number and range of festivals going on within an easy day's travel. Couple this with my attempt to try 60 new things for my 60 years, and I'm determined to visit some of them at least!

Now there are a couple of big festivals local to me - Download and Y Not - but I'm not sure they're quite my cup of tea; they're HUGE, so I think best left to the youngsters. I'll try something more bijou, and perhaps a little quirkier, thank you.

So, in no particular order, this is what I've found (I've probably missed LOTS because once you start looking, there seems to be a festival almost every weekend). From here on, the links will take you to festival web-sites where you can find more information, and perhaps one that you'd like to catch.

Timber 6/7/8 July   taking place in the National Forest just south of here, is a weekend of arts, music and activities hinged around forests; to quote the programme "music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an unforgettable, exhilarating weekend" - it sounds like just my sort of thing - there's music and theatre to entertain, night-time light installations and a torch-lit procession, talks and discussions about the importance of the environment, and our interaction with forests and wildlife to make me think, and art to inspire me.

What brought Timber to my attention in the first place was spotting something on social media about a  spoken word/theatre piece based on the Robert Macfarlane/Jackie Morris book, The Lost Words, and premiering at Timber. Since then I've explored the Timber site and found so many things that I feel I must see!  It sounds like brilliant weekend. I can't go along and camp out in the woods as the dog will have to stay at home, but fortunately it's near enough to drop in for several hours on one or more days :) You'll definitely be hearing more from me about this one!

If you fancy something similar but smaller, there's  Woodside Festival held on 16th June at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's farm in the Erewash valley, near Ilkeston ( almost on my doorstep).
It's a day of entertainment, art and wild activities, supporting local wildlife and encouraging us to get closer to nature. There's willowweaving, den building, and storytelling for children; yoga, dance and drumming sessions for older folk. Sounds like fun!

Blok Out -  Taking place on the 13/14/15 July, in the grounds of Locko Park, on the outskirts of Derby, this is perhaps the nearest of my picks to a 'music festival'.  I don't remember quite how I heard about it, but my first thought was "I could walk there" - so no worries about cars and mud! Described as a family food and music festival, it has a great music line-up with Feeder and  The Hoosiers headlining on the Saturday night, with support from local artists and others from further afield, a vintage funfair for children, lots of interesting options of food and drink, and glamping on offer for those who want to avoid tent-pitching hassle. It seems like a shame to miss something exciting taking place close by.

Eroica is now in its fifth year, and when I first heard about it I expected it to be only of interest to enthusiastic cyclists, but I saw photos of the event last summer and realised that there's a lot of interest to a more casual festival goer, and someone like myself who's heard a lot about cycling through family but who isn't 'involved' either as participant or viewer.
 Yes, it revolves around the guided cycle rides (up to 100 miles!) taking place across the Derbyshire countryside, but you could just go along, maybe join in the free cycle rides (there's an evening one to the pub which sounds very easy), check out the vintage bikes with cyclists some dressed in appropriate costumes, browse the stalls, listen to discussions, debates and tales of adventures on bikes (good for sort of once-removed enthusiasts like myself, maybe) or catch the music from brass bands, jazz and soul, to pop or folk. Taking place 15-17th June in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside at Friden Grange.

Out in the countryside again, this time just north of Matlock for Exile Music Festival  This caught my eye as I'd been tracking 3 Daft Monkeys (they're a band btw) on social media, hoping they'd be performing locally sometime, and here they are headlining. It's a smaller event than some of the others (500 cap),  but there are 15/20 bands lined up to play, and there's a showcase stage for young local performers on the Sunday. It's family friendly with children's play area, and dogs are allowed along, though not in the performance venues. It runs 22nd- 24th June.

In the way that I find people like to spread the word about something new, the organiser of Exile, suggested I also check out Mid-Folk Festival - a new event, taking place at Middleton-by-Wirksworth village hall 13th to 15th July. The emphasis is on folk music, with performances from local musicians and well-established favourites, and opportunities to take part in musical workshops, or even perform.

Add to these Derby Book Festival, Little Ed Fringe Festival, Derby Folk Festival, and art festivals at Wirksworth and Melbourne, and I could be busy...

Edit - so, of these six festivals I went to two -  Timber (to which I went as a guest or Timber Pioneer) and  Woodside - one, Blok Out was cancelled, and real life managed to get completely in the way of the others. I'm now wondering about events for autumn ...

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