The 31st July 2011 found me watching the day wake in parkland – courtesy of the Earl of Lonsdale. The mist grey chill boded well for another splendid day! Kendal Calling had not been the tacky imitation I had feared. It proved and excelled as a delightful, quirky festival. To say a mini Glastonbury would at the same time be a complement and an insult as it had its own originality which comes not from imitation. In its 5th year, my inaugural visit surprised me by providing ten official stages and a number of other quirky show cases for those of a more random nature to perform. The main stage is ain a natural amphitheatre flanked by ancient trees on either side.
From the campsite the festival is approached from a somewhat open and featureless field, which, save for the distant hills, could be any one of a number of festival sites. Suddenly the ‘field proper’ appears and you are guided on by a street lit by giant Tulips reminiscent of turning the pages on childhood Narnia.
Although it may not yet have drawn the block buster artists of larger festivals the tress, and deer, let us not forget it has been a deer park for over 700 years, the main stage has acoustics as good as its larger cousins and the audiences’ appreciation must have added a few years of life to the trees, if they really do listen to us!
Like any other Festival, it is worth wandering off the central stage into the more remote corners of this fantasy land. All ages will find somewhere of comfort. Ladybirds entertain children, circus wannabees can try their hand at tight rope and Lancaster Libraries encourage noise. The Loud in Libraries tent bringing emerging new talent. For a place to rest your feet, and this year at least, shelter from the sun, the sofas in the Library and Jazz tents help give your feet a break.
After the main stage acts end festivities continue for al tastes and ages. Glow tent for young dancers, Calling Out and Soap Box for different genres and generations. A step into soap box may find you listening to poetry, prose or laughing in the aisles. .
From the sleepy mornings when you will find party goers slowly coming to life, drinking coffee and eating bacon at various eateries, to Saturday evening when the fancy dress promenade is parading. You may spot Alice and the Mad Hatter chatting to ‘mum’ The Washing Machine. It is most certainly a family affair