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Gate to Southwell Festival, Southwell Racecourse, Nottinghamshire - 8th June 2017
Having attended the Festival at both the old site on a number of occasions and the new site in 2015, we gave it a break last year but came again last month (2017). The music is great, but what stands out for us is that the compact, homely atmosphere of the old site is missing, together with the direct link with Southwell. We can understand why the move took place, but what we always enjoyed, apart from the music, was just being able to wander into town to see what music was on in the pubs, or wander around town, without having to plan in advance. With the new site that spontaneity is no longer there, as a visit into town needs to be planned to take account of who is on where, and when. We also talked to a number of shopkeepers who indicated that they also felt that the link between festival and town was no longer as strong, which, given how quiet town was on both Friday and Sunday, was quite obvious.
Yes, the music was great, the beer tent wasn't bad, (although personally I would have liked a few more dark beers/stouts), food was great, but the compact atmosphere of the old site is still lacking. Not only is this due to the distance from town, but also compounded by the open nature of the camping areas which, by the very nature of the site, are quite windy.
Not sure what can be done to change this, but I would like to congratulate all who managed the festival. A big well done and thank you
Posted by Mark on 04/07/2017
We liked everything about this festival - fantastic lineup, brilliant workshops and great food. And a very friendly atmosphere. We'll definitely be back.
Posted by Bill and Julia on 28/06/2017
Southwell is a great festival for real music lovers and real beer lovers. The two combine well in a friendly atmosphere for all. A wide choice of entertainment options and good pub venues in the village if you want a break from the festival site for an afternoon.
Posted anonymously on 26/06/2017
It's too far from the town; they don't allow dogs on the festival site; the views are restricted in the big top marquee (hefty support gantries to each side) latecomers are allowed to stand at the front of the stage, blocking the view for many seated punters and the beer tent was too focussed on light, over-hopped lager-type ales. Cask beers and ciders a rip-off; £4 a pint.
BUT a well-organised camp site; friendly stewards; well laid out food/shopping areas (a bigger general greengrocery/deli/butchers would be an improvement - see Shrewsbury's offering) and a good mixed bag of mainstream/upcoming performers. Highlights were Daphne's Flight, Summer of Love (superb) BOC (beyond wonderful) East Pointers, Jim Moray, Henry/Martin, Les Barker, Ranagri, Cloudstreet, Tannara, Wookalily, Gnoss, Ofelia, Kadia (one to look out for) Omnivibes (Virtuoso).
Headliners? Sorry. Kate R is overexposed, Jon Boden an acquired taste as a solo performer(where did that vibrato come from?) Le Vent du Nord outclassed by BOC. Too much polemic in Megson's set; Chris Smithers one for the afictionados. Loved the Witchmen and the unashamedly traditional make-up of Stone the Crows. Move back to town; replace the bar supplier and rethink the big top seating and we'll come again next year. Well, we will anyway - it's a great festival!
Posted by John Barleycorn on 20/06/2017
Southwell is a great festival which I can happily attend with a diverse group of friends who have very different tastes - something for everyone.
Positives- the compact venue with seated tents, range of music and spoken word, proper toilets, excellent stewards, atmosphere, reasonable priced, quality food and drink offers, beer/cider festival
Negatives - hard to find local accommodation if you don't want to camp, price and accessibility of programme. Biggest complaint this year was too much music with an american feel (don't mind a bit and all was great quality BUT every other act was playing american music - even young people from Scotland!!)
Posted by Angela on 15/06/2017
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