Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts; A New Chapter

Threw my cards on the table, and pitched being Father Christmas at Devizes Winter Festival, but was informed that was arranged by the Town Council…. so, that’s that idea well and truly quashed! It was great, though, to meet Annabel, one half of the new management team of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, to chat on changes and new visions for carnival and the various other annual town events they organise……

It’s been an autumn since I quizzed former DOCA artistic director, Loz, on whether she had a say on choosing people for the role. I was glad her reply confirmed this, through fear fond events like the street festival might get all ‘village fete.’ Make no mistake, keyboard warriors on social media were quick to sound negativity on decisions taken by DOCA recently, but I’d argue Loz justified these rightfully, did an outstanding job stamping her own mark on DOCA. This came to an apex at this year’s street festival, with the mind-blowing Ceres display telling the Ruth Pearce story, something I’d dub Loz’s farewell gift to Devizes. Annabel was due to be production manager on the project, but caught covid, though she praised Baseline Circus who staged it, explaining she’d worked with them before and would use them again for DOCA.

And that’s where we open said episode, continuing from Loz’s input. I’m partly aware of Annabel’s past experience on the festival circuit, I was as pleased as punch to hear she’s taken on the role, and I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA. If one reaction to changes made, such as moving the dates of summer events to spread the workload and effort, not forgoing allowing time for schools to participate better, was this rather insular notion Loz was not from the area. Rather I liked this aspect, Loz bought in acts we otherwise may never have known. Put your pitchforks away, Annabel really is Devizes born and bred. The role though has been split into two, as Bristol-based Ashley takes the artistic side responsible for booking acts; best of both worlds.

“Ashley and I really love that she split the job between us,” Annabel began, “you’ve still got the element of someone who’s got their finger on the pulse of the artists, and I’m from Devizes. But though I’m based here, I’ve got the experience of twenty years of doing different festivals!”

I asked her what festivals, Boomtown, Glastonbury, I knew of. “All of them really,” she responded, “Secret Garden Party, Leeds Festival, and over winter I’ve been working in Edinburgh, so, Hogmanay and their street party. So, quite a lot of variety, but I always come back here.”

Not beating about the bush, my first question was on Street Festival, because personally it’s my favourite! I love that we get these colourful and lively carnival type bands full of brass and blend of gypsy ska-folk type shenanigans, but I’m also keen to suggest the event also highlights local musicians too. I’ve also heard criticism of lengthy changeovers on the stage, where Loz expressed it was to allow for the circus sideshows, of which the sound of would be drained out by bands on stage.

This idea was met in 2019 when Vinyl Realm funded and organised a fantastic second stage, my vision is now driven towards getting local acts on the main stage, rather than it being a ‘bolt-on.’ My pitch suggests if we host a number of acoustic acts between main bands, it wouldn’t drown out the circus acts, would satisfy bar loiterers, and it would highlight our local circuit to an audience who perhaps doesn’t make it out to our pub-venues. I’m pleased she made a note of this, though it was perhaps better put to Ashley, who wasn’t present. “Ashley’s got some great ideas on that,” Annabel replied, “about bringing in different types of acts from different places, and also keeping it accessible locally as well.

She toyed with this word, ‘accessible’ extending it to what’s important to her, “particularly in participation, whatever form that takes, whether it’s volunteering, attending, or performing, I want to make it accessible, finding out what will make it easier for people to enjoy it and in taking part as well.” Fire in the hole, golden opportunity for my summary on people’s, often passionate, feelings about the events, is it’s that delicate balance of pleasing everyone. “That’s the difficult bit,” Annabel confessed, “unfortunately you’re never going to please all the people all of the time, however I think by listening to people and communicating, would really help.”

And in fact, they’ve done precisely this, an online “carnival consultation” survey, which is still open, so too early to analyse results. Based solely on carnival, “because,” she explained, “I think there’s a particularly strong feeling DOCA wasn’t always listening to the people of Devizes, which they were to a certain extent, but maybe the communication wasn’t there, so we’re trying to make it as clear as possible, by opening it up and allowing people to have their say.” Annabel moved onto lower participation levels recently, due to difficulties of the pandemic era being “something we’d really like to address, and find out how we can make it easier for everyone.” A meeting about the results of the survey will follow, and really, you cannot ask for a better response than this, in my humble opinion!

There was one Facebook rant recently, comparing Devizes carnival with Pewsey’s, something I felt a tad unfair as Pewsey’s renowned reputation has taken decades to build, and a carnival is formed by people, Pewsey works because everyone comes out to play. “It takes an awful lot to get it to that level and keep it continuing,” Annabel mused, “it’s not a straight forward thing to do, and throwing in the spanner of a couple of years of nothing happening, and, yeah…” I trailed back to the tricky subject of satisfying everyone.

“The way we want to move forward is taking away the concept of us and them,” she expressed, “it’s all of us together, and that collates what you said as well, it needs to be something that everyone can feel they can get onboard with and get involved with, whether it’s something they’re already familiar with, or shared love of something new.”

If only those so quick to criticise could see, what I described as an iceberg, whereby it’s equal in size underwater as it is above, the inner-working of what it takes to stage these huge town events, they’d not, as dubious they do, take it somewhat for granted. Volunteering at this year’s street festival, which might’ve ended with me just clearing bins, opened my eyes to the mammoth task.

“Yes,” Annabel agreed, “and when you’re doing a good job, it’s when people don’t realise what’s going on behind the scenes, the amount of pre-planning, private funding, all of that sort of thing to bring it together, it’s a huge amount, especially these days when you’ve got all the red tape, but we trying to open it up, find out what’s going to make it easier for people to get involved, and do something about it. There’re a few different ideas we’ve outlined in the consolation, one idea was a ‘makers week,’ which could be weeks prior to carnival, where people who want to make something for carnival can come together and learn different skills.”

‘Together’ was becoming a word of the day, Annabel talking a lot on widening the volunteer spectrum to an almost ‘festival training core’ concept, and between this and her parenthood reasons for wishing to reduce her, what she described as “nomadic” festival life and be based here, “because I just love it,” is whyI came away positive from our chat.

The Winter Festival will be the proof in the pudding, Annabel and Ashley’s first DOCA event; had to wonder if this was possibly the most difficult of them to find a balance. “It’s all systems go,” she replied, “but I’m really excited about it already,” then told of the anticipation surrounding school’s lantern workshops, adding methods for creating similar enthusiasm for carnival.

For some unexplainable reasoning, I commenced waffling about Glastonbury festivals of yore, the different the weather makes, and we settled returning the conversation back to the beginning; changes, after Annabel spoke of Winter Festival’s indoor craft markets. “it’s difficult,” she responded, “but times do change. There’s a lot to be said for tradition, but a lot also to be said for new experiences; it’s about finding the right balance between the two, and making it work for as many people as possible, for the right reasons.”

As I said, I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA, and I sincerely wish Ashly and Annabel the very best with their roles in our delightful carnival committee.


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Opera Meets House at Devizes Full Tone Festival

Featured image above by Gail Foster

It has been undeniably a variety music show at the Full Tone Festival this bank holiday weekend on the Green in Devizes, of tremendous proportions and matchless quality.

The stage I’ve previous dubbed “like something out of the Jetsons,” was once again erected, deckchair city assembled around it, with a bustling collection of food and drinks stalls beyond, and the sun with his hat on, shining down on all the shiny happy people.

It is a remarkable achievement and something to be truly proud of, to have here in our humble market town. The Full-Tone Orchestra taking their show to prestigious venues like Bath Abbey and Marlborough College, returned home, looking even more professional than ever. Conductor Anthony Brown waving his hands around like manual control of the world’s air traffic; it was, in a word, magical.

Highlights came thick and fast, Dominic Irving thrilled, heading a Tchaikovsky concerto on piano, for an opening of obligatory classical elements. The stage emptied as Will Foulstone took control of the keys, solo. Full Tone platforms young talent, like TikTok trumpeter Oli Parker, on Sunday, to an audience majority unlikely to know what TikTok is. Similarly, Will performed some videogame themes among Coldplay and contemporary pop, which is better in reality than it sounds to my generation bought up on ZX Spectrums or Mega Drives!

Will’s finale was an astounding cover of Elton John’s I’m Still Standing, and the orchestra realigned for a concentration of movie scores, largely dependent on the western themes of the late Ennio Morricone; liked this.

Then, BBC Introducing DJ skateboarder, James Threlfall took to digital wheels of steel and blasted the zone, and across the road to the chippy, with a set of contemporary and commercial high-energy house; lights came on blazing like the Green was the Ministry of Sound. Here is where I need to revert to my reviewing template, which resides on two major contributories. One is, did the event appease me personally, the second, more importantly is, did it do what it said “on the tin,” i.e., was it everything it posed to be. For the latter, the Full Tone Festival 2022 hit top marks, without a doubt. I watched the joy on hundreds of faces, as they danced the night away to James and the following Full-Tone Orchestra set of “nineties smash hits.”

The grand finale of Saturday night was certainly intrenched with nostalgia, perfected by an orchestra where no penny was left unexpended, no rehearsal was spent playing tiddlywinks, where the professionalism is first rate and the atmosphere was nothing short of sublime. The Full-Tone Festival was superb last year, this time around comes the typical stigma of a sequel, the “how can we ever top that” enquiry, and I’ve a duty to be honest, based upon the imperative Saturday evening, I’m not completely certain they did, on personal reflection, you understand?

Image: Gail Foster

Song choice at this conjunction was the only thing which let it down, for me. Started off okay, the Britpop beginning I can tolerate, but as it progressed to the pop hits of S Club 7, Britney Spears and Cher’s I Believe, et al, these, for me, were the excruciating pop slush of a generation below; I detested them at the time, and retain said detestation.

It was a far cry from the club anthems of last year’s, because that’s the point where creatively, electronic music technology truly challenged the orchestra. But, sigh, it’s all subjective, I told you about the hundreds of faces, didn’t I? They matter, it did what it said on the tin, with high gloss, it just wasn’t my cuppa.

Image: Gail Foster

I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to Sunday’s extension, we don’t all have bank holidays y’ know? But I can rest assured with the years of rock n roll experience of Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, Kirsty Clinch’s angelic country vocals, and the fact Jonathan Antoine has been done BGT, it’d have been alright on the night.

Image: Gail Foster

Feedback on the orchestra’s big band showcase has been fantastic, with particular praise of vocalist Will Sexton. On opera, spellbinding local soprano who could turn even me to opera, Chloe Jordan, said, “it was my dream to sing ‘Song to the Moon ‘Resulka with an orchestra. Thank you so much to The Full Tone Orchestra for allowing that dream to come true!” And that, in a nutshell, is the kingpin to assessing this spectacular; if dreams come true there, you can’t argue how special an occasion it was.

Image: Gail Foster

Though the headcount was slightly lesser-so than last year’s, trouble to many events this, as a sad reflection on economic issues, here’s hoping this awesome weekend on the Green will be enough to convince Full Tone to make this a permanent fixture on our event calendar. Devizes loves you Full Tone, that much is certain.


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Full-Tone Stands Alone

Full Tone Festival August Bank Holiday then, penny for your thoughts on that one……

Five irritating wannabes handpicked for their conflicting personalities vote on each other’s dinner parties while a poor man’s Harry Hill narrator insults them in a heavily edited sham of a television show. Yet, despite this perpetual cycle of formulated garbage, Come Dine with Me attracts millions of viewers. It’s the same thing every darn episode; oh, how original, they’re looking in her knicker draw, saucy!

Give me strength; familiarity is prevalent, between three to five million people slouch in front of The Chase daily, when face it, aside differing questions, it’s monotonous; eat, watch The Chase, sleep, repeat. Still, from a few branches of the grapevine, I’ve caught this tosh: “The Full Tone Festival is the same as last year.” Shut the front door!

Honest, I feel like tapping them on the head, inquiring, “hello? Anybody in?!” Even if it was the same, which I’m out to conclude it’s not, so if you agree you need not read on, but even if it was, I’d reply, “yeah? Good!” for the simple reason, last year’s was absolutely, off-the-scale fantastic, and nothing, I repeat nothing, around these parts could match it.

I sincerely hope they’re not the same substandard detractors who hypocritically whine-hole when DOCA, for good reason, change the dates or the route of carnival! I attended the astounding MantonFest last weekend, it was a similar setup as last year, because the formula works, regulars flock to it safe in the knowledge they know what they’re getting, and if it’s not broken…. Face it, most events are samey. Glastonbury might host some different acts annually, but even they have the same stages in the same fields year after year; fresh cowpats, same mud!

Bottom line is, I’m unsure if it’s possible to improve on the sound, stage and pyrotechnics from last year, unless we forward-wind technology a few decades. The acoustics on that stage were mind-blowing, and if the price-tag is another niggly issue, you could see where your dollar was offloaded. It looked like something out of The Jetsons, didn’t it?! And I hope its shape will become iconic symbolism as to what can be achieved right here in Devizes. As an inimitable annual party, it’s one of a kind around these waters, it’s our ravey-davey Last Night of the Proms! The Full Tone Orchestra toured Bath Abbey, Marlborough College, the Wyvern in Swindon and beyond this year, but what they return home to produce is something really superior, something to congratulate and celebrate.

Musical director and conductor, Anthony Brown tells us he’s “been looking forward to this year’s festival from the moment I put my baton down last year, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share what we do with so many people. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your musical tastes are, and I guarantee that even those who have never experienced orchestral music before, will leave wanting more!” Summing my angle up nicely; far from a restrictive Proms, last year it opened doors to those otherwise sceptical of the magnificence of an orchestra and changed their preconceptions of them, and that’s a glorious achievement.

But the biggie still remains, what can we expect from this year’s Full-Tone Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend (27th & 28th August)? The family-friendly music festival promises to be even bigger and better than ever, with two full days of back-to-back music, performed by this spectacular 65-piece orchestra conducted by Anthony Brown, we know and love as the Fulltone Orchestra.

The programme divides into six orchestral concerts providing the ultimate variety of live music from popular classics, opera and big band to movie themes and huge nineties hits. The grand finale on Sunday evening will see The Green at Devizes transformed into its very own Studio 54, with the orchestra and singers performing a full two hour set of seventies inspired disco classics; oh, that can ring my bell, have I got time to grow an afro?!

So, if it is as I suggested, impossible to improve on the sound, stage and pyrotechnics, enhancements in the line-up are the logical steps, which has been done. Special guest artists performing on stage include the formidable voice of Jonathan Antoine. A classically-trained tenor, Jonathan rose to fame after appearing on the sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, as half of the classical duo Jonathan and Charlotte. He went solo and his debut album, Tenore, was released in 2014, and subsequently followed with a further two albums.

Wiltshire’s own presenter and skateboarder, DJ James Threlfall also appears. James works radio for the BBC, and hosts football platform, 433. With a 95K Tik-Tok audience, Full Tone Festival also welcomes trumpeter Oli Parker, local legendary rock n rollers, Pete Lamb & The Heartbeats, and I’m delighted to see the most amazingly talented country-rock star Kirsty Clinch added to this fine bill; surely the icing on the cake.

Talking cake, food and drink will be available from local vendors, and t-shirts will be on sale and raising funds for Dorothy House. And that’s that, Bowie said it best, ch-ch-ch-changes. All you need to do is grab a ticket, from Ticketsource, or Devizes Books. While children under 14 go free, it’s going to set you back forty quid, yet you can guarantee its money well spent, for this unmissable entire weekend show right on your doorstep.

And for anyone casting a shadow of “samey,” I’d argue only in as much as everything is formulated; Albert Einstein had seven of the same suits, so he didn’t have to decide which one to wear! What are you expecting from them, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, digging up Beethoven? One ponders if they even attended last year, and I don’t mean the unofficial gathering on the little green, because they didn’t receive the benefit of being encased in the incredible acoustics of that Jetsons stage, they had not one iota of the splendour, the all-encompassing effect of it. But to say, if you were there, you’d surely take the “if it isn’t broken,” opinion and want nothing more than to do it all again.

Of course, it’s your prerogative to stay home watching Come Dine with Me on an endless cycle of repeats while everyone else is having a truckload of fun! For more information about the Fulltone Music Festival on The Green, Devizes, and to purchase tickets, please visit the Fulltone Orchestra website.


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Miracle at MantonFest!

Ah yeah, Paul McCartney whisked Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl out of his hat at Glasto, and no one can top that, no one dare try, but on the other side of the west country The Fab Four were rejuvenated on stage, and miraculously commanded the weather!

Okay, allow some exaggeration for artistic licence, but being the only sour point about MantonFest last year was spates of torrential downpour, and the forecast foreboding a repeat, note it tried its uppermost to drizzle, but on the one occasion the crowds thought, “this is it,” Nottingham’s fantastic Beatles tribute, The Fab Four broke into George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun and lo-and-behold, the sunshine returned, to a rapturous applause.

Coincidence, or should these guys try a Paul Daniels tribute next, is besides the point; there were numerous memorable happenings at MantonFest this year, the Beatles tribute controlled clement weather was just the tip of the iceberg.

For eleven years strong MantonFest has been Marlborough’s little gem, punching well above its weight. It’s both communal and friendly, but professionally executed too. If Glastonbury is a city of tents, this day festival is a village of gazebos. Picnicking families return year-after-year, and MantonFest prides itself on a loyal fanbase.

Nit-picking, the focus is entirely on the music, but kids seem unperturbed by any lack of facilities aimed at them. They naturally make their own entertainment, organise a game of football in the ample surrounding fields, more so join the already extensive age demographic and genuinely enjoy the music. Perhaps why The Fab Four were so apt, the Beatles’ early music is the eve of bubble-gum, beguilingly simple for the masses, which makes it timeless.

Talking to them backstage they delighted in the notion they’re a platform introducing Beatles music to a new generation, and in that, plus the fact they are an archetypical four-piece rock band setup without strings and effects, they blasted out the earlier, simpler 45s such as Love me Do and Hold my Hand as a baseplate. And they did it fantastically, with a nod to later Beatles creations such as Yellow Submarine and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but perhaps most absolute to exposing their skills in ballads, such as Something the aforementioned, Here Comes the Sun, and a grand finale of Hey Jude, this was a very entertaining package.

Take a Beatles tribute as red, my mum, caught up in Beatlemania, thrust it willingly down my throat, so I’m bound to enjoy, but the real surprise of MantonFest 2022 was the second tribute, Jean Genie. As it suggests, accomplished musician and writer in his own right, John Mainwaring becomes David Bowie, more so in sound than appearance.

You can rough me up for this, but note while I fully recognise and accept Bowie’s importance in the progression of pop, and understand why he is idolised, I’m a smidgen too young to have been caught up in the fanaticism surrounding him. But this guy wowed, as simple as; assessment is this is way up on my best tributes leader-board, forcing me to view Bowie in a new light. I mean, the guy toured with Bowie’s own band The Spiders from Mars in the nineties, explaining to me backstage the gradual progression to this career point was, as he sounded so much like his influence, through his own original music, he was persuaded first to attribute the fictional persona Ziggy Stardust, “as Bowie killed him off anyway.”

This performance was truer to the definition “tribute” than the standard tribute act, it was part John Mainwaring, being himself hugely inspired by Bowie, but it was also part Bowie, sublimely, his voice and showmanship as close as you could possibly get, and as Starman echoed out, it was a totally mesmerising performance, my highlight of the day.

Unfortunately, while professional and accomplished, I have to say, I don’t think the headliners The Animals topped this. Maybe it was just me, feeling the strain of not drinking myself stupid, of which, looking back on, I’m proud, but at the time at tad niggly! I’d say the line between a real act and a tribute act are blurred, when a man like Mainwaring, with such experience and close relationship with the act he’s attributing is a tribute, but a band with only one original band member is considered the genuine article. I mean, yeah, it’s labelled as The Animals and Friends, but grammar comes into play somewhat. It’s not plural; The Animal and Friends. A rather plodding show, a bit meh in comparison with what went beforehand.

Between the two tributes stood the testament to MantonFest, Marlborough’s pride, Barrelhouse. With bassist Stuart Whant as artistic director, MantonFest is the Barrelhouse fan club’s annual beano, but they’ve the knack to make their show something watchable on repeat. If you ever figured the timeworn blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley,or even when they slip into bluegrass, couldn’t enthuse teenagers today, you need to bear witness to the enduring methods of Barrelhouse, with the growling mysterious frontman Martin Hands, his proficient band, and the reaction of their loyal fans at the one place they’ll guarantee to rule the stage, Manton Grange.

But if Barrelhouse are guaranteed goodness, The Fab Four were what they said on the tin, fab, and Jean Genie was a sublime homage, there was an equally talented act upon my arrival. Rocking up a bit late to catch previous performances, Southend-on-Sea’s Rosalie Cunningham was all I needed as confirmation this was going to be a great day for live music. Program a hundred personas of legendary rock heroines into a computer, from Patti Smith to Suzi Quatro and Debbie Harry to Alanis Morissette, and ask it to compute something analogous, it’d likely create Rosalie Cunningham. She looked the part, she sounded like the part, and in all essence, she was the part.

At first it came across prog-rock, all King Crimson type, but there were riffs to punk, nods to rock n roll, and the band explained they liked it like this, prevented it getting tedious for them. For an audience it was astutely performed, original rock, steady, flowing; the like you’d think you knew already.

All-in-all, Mantonfest is a credit to Wiltshire, but as I said last year, absent are the faces of our own live music aficionados, just a stone-throw away. Marlborough is not the Upside Down from Stranger Things, Devizions, yet those rolling downs seem to divide us into little circuits.

In fact, the only connection to my hometown I made was thinking about my stomach! Yes, amico, that trusty airstream caravan, The Italian Job, usually parked upon the Green in Devizes, was pitched at MantonFest, the wonderful aromas of basil and garlic were as alluring as the seating inside, and for want of a cup of Rosey-Lee, I came bundling out with gorgeous homemade lasagne, garlic bread and rocket, and slouched in a chair below the beautiful slopes of Treacle Brolly; now that’s festivaling Marlboro’ country, something you’re really missing. I’d highly recommend you etch MantonFest 2023 into your must-do-list.


Saddleback Back!

In July 2019, straight after the Devizes Rugby Club’s Saddleback Festival, they announced July 11th 2020 for their next festival, but we all know the rest of that sad story. Since 2017 the club organised an annual Saddleback, named after Devizes Rugby team’s nickname, and the event quickly gained an outstanding reputation for bringing some quality acts to Devizes….

If I’m honest, being they held off during 2021, with tears from the memories of a great local all-dayer in my complimentary beer cup, I thought we’d seen the back of Saddleback. For want of repeating the same gag, coordinator Rick Kibby tells me, “We thought it was about time we brought the Saddleback Festival back!” And Saturday 18th June, 2022 marks the very day, at Devizes Rugby Club from 2pm, until late.

There was me thinking this cup was an emblem of a long lost Devizes festival!

Originally dedicated to blues, though the tag might’ve been dropped to allow more scope over the pre-lockdown years, blues is very much the mainstay, which is bound to satisfy Devizes aficionados, as local blues legends Jon Amor & King Street Turnaround, and Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue welcomingly headline; say no more.

The slightly more pop-rock acoustic, though with a definite hint of blues, Joe Hicks is also on the line-up. We love Joe here at Devizine, a true class act, prolific and generally all-round nice guy! Check out his latest offering double A-side, One More Step.

The other acts are new to me, which is all good, bit of well sourced mystery and all that. The drifting acoustic goodness of No Manz Land. Bristol’s big, stomping disco sound of Carolyn McGoldrick, retro-rock with Matt Peach, the beguiling Artic Monkey’s fashioned Public Eye, and the The Best of Ratcat, of which I’ve no info on, think of them as the wildcard!

But the real change for Saddleback is the side project, Lottiefest, as while the festival has always had a charity fundraiser base, this is the first time it has incorporated another festival in its title. “Lottiefest is in memory of Lottie,” Rick explained, “who was the daughter of one of our members who suffered from Ataxia, and the Lily Foundation raises funds for the fight against mitochondrial disease.” Lottie Rapson was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia at the age of 6, and sadly passed away aged just 27 in December last year.

“She taught us all so many things” the blurb on Saddleback Festival website reveals, “to focus on what you can do rather than worry about what you can’t, to see the good in everyone, to make the most of every day and never walk past an opportunity to do something mad!” And it goes onto explaining how much Lottie loved festivals, “often dragged to bed by her carers in the early hours of the morning.” Therefore Saddleback will be raising for The Lily Foundation and Ataxia UK.

This fitting tribute transcribes into dancing the night away in a club fashion with some carefully selected DJs, Matter, Rappo, Retrospekt, Astral Pipes, who fuse house and intelligent drum n bass into a diversity of dance music, something wholly different from anything we’ve seen at Saddleback before. A welcomed change to shake up the later hours, until 1am.

There’s camping on site, £15 for a tent, £25 for campervan.

You know, I’m so glad to see Saddleback on our event calendar again, the 2018 Battle of the Bands contest really bought to my attention the wealth of talent on our local circuit. I’d just befriended every local musician’s favourite photographer, Nick Padmore, who introduced me to George Wilding, Jamie R Hawkins, Sally Dobson, Jordan Whatley, Jack Moore and Mike Barham. Then, to have them play at the festival was the icing on the cake, really felt like I started something very worthy; they might disagree!

After that unforgettable year seems there was a little communication breakdown, Devizine was to cover the festival, but I wasn’t informed I was invited! Never mind, as now we are all informed; I’m telling you now, The Saddleback is back, and it’s going to be an amazing show right here in Devizes town!

Saddleback is on Saturday 18th June, Tickets start at £30, online here, or from

Devizes Books
Handel House
Sidmouth Street
Devizes
SN10 1LD
Tel – 01380 725944

Avon Trophies
Wharfside
Devizes
SN10 1EB
Tel – 01380 724630

The Peppermill
40 St John’s Street
Devizes
SN10 1BL
Tel – 01380 710407

Professional Books
Old Kingdom Hall
Avon Terrace
Devizes
SN10 2BH
Tel – 01380 820003


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Folk Festival to Return to Chippenham’s Streets

After two years of being restricted by the global pandemic, Chippenham Folk Festival returns in person this Spring with three internationally renowned headline acts among its highlights.….

Over the past five decades, Chippenham Folk Festival has become a mainstay of the local events calendar, with people travelling from destinations far and wide to sample some of the greatest British and international folk artists.

For many local residents, it is what the second May Bank Holiday weekend is reserved for. However, as with events around the world, the festival has been hit by the effects of the global pandemic. In 2020, there was no festival, and in 2021 the team could only run a pared back virtual version of the event.

This year, however, plans are in place to bring it back to Chippenham’s streets and venues to give people a much-needed lift. The festival  is planned for 27-29 May 2022, so get the date in your diary.

What’s on?

A host of acts have already been booked with the line led by the three headlining artists:

Belshazzar’s Feast

Acclaimed musicians Paul Sartin (oboe, violin, swanee whistle and vocals) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion) are notorious for their superlative ability, wit, rapport and depth of experience, creating a concert to remember.

3 Daft Monkeys

With a fiery helter-skelter blend of influences from east and west, 3 Daft Monkeys inject a unique wildness into their music, producing a symphonious cacophony of styles.

3 Daft Monkeys (yes, you can count, there is four of them. Maybe that’s the “daft” part?!)

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have long established themselves as one of the UK folk scene’s rewardingly enduring partnerships. Always bold and innovative, they mix traditional song arrangements with their self-penned material that reels from the bitter to the sweet, the wry to the sad, the political to the passive

There will be many many more exceptional acts in venues around the town during the course of the weekend.

As well as these fantastic concerts there will, as usual, be:

  • folk dance events
  • ceilidhs
  • family events and workshops
  • free events and morris displays through the high street
  • arts and crafts
  • street market.

Dedicated to traditional English dance and music

Chippenham Folk Festival Chairman Torquil Macinnes said, “not only does Chippenham Folk Festival offer an extremely high calibre of artists, but it is dedicated to traditional English dance and music.

“What sets it apart from other events is its opportunities for participation and education. It truly is a social occasion.

“It is for this reason that the global pandemic has hit us so hard. We are interactive. We need to be face to face with the people of Chippenham and beyond. I am delighted, therefore, that we are going full steam ahead to bring the event back to the streets of Chippenham in 2022.”

A crucial few weeks

As live, in-person events slowly continue to make their way back, audiences and organisers are understandably cautious. While the festival team is working around the clock to make the event happen, the next few weeks are crucial for its fate.

Torquil continued, “we have an absolutely brilliant team of organisers, made up entirely of volunteers. They are doing everything in their power to bring the festival back to the people of Chippenham and the thousands of visitors we get every year.

“However, with uncertainty around live events still rife, we do have a cut-off point by which we must have reached a certain sales target to guarantee it will happen

“With the fantastic lineup we already have, we are very confident it will go ahead, but we need to ask people to consider buying their tickets a little earlier than usual to make sure of it.”

Book your place now

Early bird tickets have already sold out for this year’s event, and tier 1 weekend tickets are on sale now. These offer a saving of almost 15% off the full ticket price.

Tickets are available at https://www.chippfolk.co.uk/tickets-2022/ and are fully refundable if the event cannot go ahead in light of any changes in the COVID-19 restrictions.

Get involved

The festival is entirely reliant on a dedicated army of brilliant volunteers all who give up their time and provide their skills and expertise to the event free of charge. There are many different ways in which you can get involved. We need:

  • stewards
  • tradespeople
  • set designers and builders
  • radio comms specialists
  • buskers
  • bar staff

To find out how you can get involved, visit https://www.chippfolk.co.uk/get-involved/

Find out more

Keep your eye out on https://www.chippfolk.co.uk/ for further information and lineup updates.


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Bit of a Shindig; The Most Luxurious Festival in The West?

Glamping and other plush extras add to the allure of a modern-day festival, but how far are you willing to go to make your festie experience that bit more luxurious? Established dance festival Shindig, which takes place 26th-29th May in the glorious grounds of the Dillington Estate in Somerset, boasts the only festival in the UK with a hotel on site, and I don’t mean slumming in a Travelodge!

“You can either stay in the beautiful main 18th Century Dillington House,” they announced, “or in the incredible contemporary Hyde complex.” The Superior Rooms are the largest and most luxurious, which are mostly found in the Hyde. Many come with their own private decking or balconies with views over the stunning Somerset countryside. Plus, hotel guests have their very own entrance straight into the festival, so you won’t miss any of the action.

And that action is headliners De La Soul and Roy Ayers, with a massive host of live acts and DJs, including Nightmares on Wax, and Don Letts with Terry Hall, its own after-hours nightclub with Goldie playing among others, and a general good vibes atmosphere where the entire family is catered for. There’s the Kids Kingdom, which will be fully programmed with activities to keep them busy during the day, and performance shows and cinema for kids.

Okay, big question, yeah, hotel rooms start from £1,000 for four nights bed & breakfast, but this includes secure parking, room service, bar and restaurant. Other boutique camping options are bell tents, yurts and squirts, airstreams, or bring your own camper with a £70 in advance ticket.

All this wows me, how far the festival scene has come, and Shindig truly is a testament, for the glitzy side of dance music. But in this, it got me reminiscing of the downside to festivals of yore, lying flat in the cheapest prism one-man tent money could buy, with a burnt-out tealight, a little pond of muddy Special Brew and grass blades, telling myself it was all part of the festival experience!

Once, camping halfway up the side of an Andalusian Mountain, graduated to a dome tent, yet having to anchor my feet in the sleeping bag in a bottom corner and fasten myself diagonally across, supported either side by my rucksack and other paraphernalia, in order to prevent waking to find myself, and all my gear too, slumped into the bottom corner like I did on the first morning!

I find myself thinking back to people-watching at a bygone murky Glasto, where within the mud-drenched surrounding akin to an apocalyptic movie, I perchance to spot a glamorous young girl dressed totally in white, white leggings, white top and trainers. She was just standing there, in the midst of it all, spotless and looking horrified at the desolation around her. With frazzled mind I had to ponder how she’d even got that far, I mean, without resembling everyone else, who were covered head-to-toe in mud and shit.      

The only conclusion I could muster was teleportation, but I’m now certain of one thing, that chick needed Shindig, possibly more than anyone! Phew, if I were her, or you, I’d get my ticket here, forget the past and relish in the festival indulgence of a new era!


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Bath Reggae Festival Ticketholders Still Await Refund

Ticketholders for the hugely publicised Bath Reggae Festival still awaiting a refund after the festival was cancelled in August last year are getting understandably disgruntled, as the organisers are reportedly unresponsive to emails and messages….  

Like many others, I jumped on this when first announced in November 2020. With a real community feel to their reggae scene, and Fairfield House, where Emperor Haile Selassie I spent five years in exile, what location in the southwest could be more apt to hold a reggae festival than Bath?

Wowed but slightly dubious when I saw the inaugural festival announce their line-up later in the month, for a first-time festival it seemed too good to be true. Legends of reggae were billed; Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, Hollie Cook, Sister Nancy and more. Due to Covid restrictions the event was postponed from June to August, but over 2,000 reggae fans were disappointed to learn, due to the organisers being unable to source port-a-loos, the festival at Kensington Meadows in the city was again called off.

Spokesperson for event organisers, VIP Productions, Jack Wilkinson told the BBC at the time, “there has been a mention of September but again that can’t be guaranteed.” VIP put out a plea on their Facebook page, encouraging ticketholders to retain their tickets as they would be honoured once a future date was arranged, but promised a full refund if not. This was the last post published on their Facebook page in August, as punters rally to inquire to their refund, and receive no response.

Some managed to obtain a part-reimbursement from their bank or PayPal, but I’ve yet to find anyone who actually received a refund direct from the organisers. I emailed the festival’s website and the messaged VIP Productions, to no reply either, but since discovered, according to the .gov site, the company dissolved in October. VIP also presented another similar reggae festival, same month, in Huddersfield, called Sunup, of which I can find no evidence of it happening either. Going on this, I’m sad to say, I wouldn’t hold out much hope, guys.

I would not go as far to suggest the whole shebang was a scam; the festival industry is not a swindlers’ market, as it is not enormously profit-making. An event of this scale takes hard work, dedication, experience and a huge pot of funds long before stages are erected, and folk are downing cider and chewing on falafels. Admin, marketing, council permissions and insurance are just some of the mountains of red tape you need to get through just to get your foot on the first run of the ladder, therefore there’s far easier methods of defrauding people.

Just one day prior to the event in August, Somerset Live reported VIP were “criticised for their last-minute approach and lacking basic information in the application, making it ‘extremely difficult’ for Bath and North East Somerset Council.” Somerset Live also spoke to a senior environmental health officer, Sara Chiffers, who expressed concerns, “we’ve had extensive dialogue with the organisers about elements of the event management plan that were unclear, contradictory.”

This would suggest my initial hesitancy was justified; perhaps their intentions were honourable, but they tried to run before they could walk. For to have one of these big names booked would have been enough for an inaugural festival, as you need to start small and build. You cannot run off looking at Glastonbury, Reading or Bestival, these are well established with generations of experience, if they book Bowie, or Bruce Springsteen it’s because they know they can, they know tickets will cover it. Festival organising is a massive risk, and fundamental organisers get an event co-ordinator with experience. But to fail over a trivial aspect like toilets is, aptly, a bit shit!

More so it looks bad, creating a riff between punter and organisers in general, and right now, this is the last thing the hospitality industry needs. I know of one festival organisation shut up shop because they depended on advance ticket sales to host the next event. An honourable, trustworthy little festival, and while I’d rather advocate folk entrust such organisers, stories like this are bound to create understandable uncertainty.   

My advice would have to be, in order for the festival scene to thrive and especially for new-comers to become established, folk have to put their trust in events and buy tickets in advance. Yet I urge punters to use their noodle, be wary of festivals promising too much at one time, especially the first time, or events which may have sister operations elsewhere in the UK under a similar banner. But it is detrimental for the future of festivals that organisers remain faithful to their customers, that they insure there’s reserves for refunds should it fail, and that they keep in communication with the ticketholders in such an occasion, as it is not only the customers you are bothering, but other event organisers too; common decency really, isn’t it?


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It’s Beginning to Look a DOCA Like Christmas

Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts are in the thick of planning for the Lantern Parade and Winter Festival, set to take place at the Market Place on Friday the 26th and Saturday 27th of November, but it looks doubtful the usual mass-gathering to see Santa Claus switching on the Christmas lights will be possible this year.

Divided in opinion on controlling the pandemic and vaccinations we may be, but I’m certain, though disappointed, it would be an understandable move to spread the festival out for safety reasons, as it did so well with the town’s celebrated International Street Festival in the summer. Not forgoing, we’ll all agree, the last person we need to test positive at this time of year, is Santa!

“Traditionally Devizes Lantern Parade,” DOCA announced, “a huge magical community event comes to our streets on the last Friday of November, it is usually part of the Town Councils Light Switch on.  Things may be a little different this year.”

 But, let’s look forward for the positives; posters are going up around town this coming week, lantern making workshops in schools and at the Wiltshire Museum will take place on the 7th and 21st of November, and DOCA is gearing up to present the town with a wonderful parade and market. “We can confirm that we will have an amazing festive market,” they delight to inform, “with carefully selected sellers and makers bringing unique gifts, tasty food, and drinks to our Market Place.”

“The Makery” in the Corn Exchange will hold independent crafter stalls on both days, where you’ll find beautiful handmade gifts. Fantasy Radio will be playing festival tunes in the Market Place, Devizes Town Band will bring class brass to the Market Place, from 6-7pm each evening, with fireworks straight afterwards, and the highlight lantern parade starting off at 6:30pm.

There is a revised route for the parade, DOCA advises checking maps on lampposts around the town. Collect your lanterns from St. John’s Church between 5pm until 6pm. Leave unwanted lanterns under the Christmas Tree in the Market Place for recycling.

Other first-time things to look out for include the Air Giants, outside the Corn Exchange and the Town Hall at 5:30pm and 8:30pm. Amazing gentle giants, Triffid and Luma are huge illuminated, emotionally expressive, soft robotic creatures. “You may think the wind is blowing them, but they can actually sense you and will interact with you as you approach them,” DOCA claim. This I have to see for myself; who knows, by the end of the evening we’ll be best buddies and probably stop off for a pint at the British!

Also look out for Ghost Caribou; part caribou, part spirit, roam a mystical world after dark. That being outside the Mayflower on Long Street at 5:30pm and 7:10pm, and they’ll go walkabout along the High Street and Long Street afterwards. Join them as they clear a space to perform their other-worldly ceremony, with music, song and shadow puppets they tell stories of lost homes, impossible migrations and seeds of hope before continuing the journey into their hauntingly beautiful dream-world of the night.

Spooky! Hope to catch you there, with mulled wine and mittens! Find out more, HERE.


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Marlborough’s Festival Gem; Manton-Fest

Reading Wiltshire Live’s article this morning, in which attendees were evacuated at Swindon festival Live at Lydiard Park yesterday due to looming thunderstorms, somewhat reflected my own weekend. Music Director Stuart Whant of Mantonfest near Marlborough looked solemnly at me and said if we had thunderstorms, he’d have to pull it. I tried to deflect it with flippancy, doubting it would come to that, but his expression told the story of how passionate and dedicated he is about Mantonfest.

Fortunately, despite one passing downpour, bad weather held off for the tenth anniversary of this magical and beloved little one-day festival. If Barrelhouse, the band Stuart plays bass for, performed the most excellent cover of Muddy Water’s “Got my Mojo Working,” wasn’t the only muddy element to this event, it certainly wasn’t going to upset the mood of the crowd.

Here, the port-a-loos are sectioned off according to gender, I duly noted; definitely a very Marlborough occasion! And for the locals Mantonfest has become a cherished institution. With Stuart organising, means Barrelhouse are firm fixture, as the crowd’s explosion of delight when they came on revealed, if the amount of folk attired in the band’s T-shirt didn’t.

I saw, and heard their reasoning, Barrelhouse seriously have their mojo working. Vintage blues with a hard edge groove their strapline, and apt. The cover of Hoochie Coochie Man sealed the deal for authenticity, but more captivating was the way they sublimely adjusted The Ace of Spades to said strapline, breathing a delta style into the metal anthem. Frontman Martin Hands is one cool dude in shades, playing no instrument he sullenly strides around the stage like a young Jim Morrison, and he has the rich, gritty voice which allures like him too.

For want of a plug, Barrelhouse’s signature tune and title track of their latest album, Mainline Voodoo appears on our Julia’s House compilation album, and the instant magnetism of its riff is the central reason why I’m here; they did not disappoint, rather kick over the pedestal the tune caused me to put them on, and replaced it with a much higher, more expensive one! A Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, and Honky Tonk Woman finale sealed the deal.

This band, domestic and obviously essential to the festival, were far from the only thing to impress. Due to congestion Marlborough is currently experiencing due to roadworks, they swapped places with Richard Davies & The Dissidents, who as a band made their debut appearance at Mantonfest, with very proficient free-flowing feelgood rock n roll.

The causal, untamed beatnik frontman though has previously performed here in different bands. As a persona he very much reflects a mellowed Jagger-Petty mesh, and has the skill to support the accolade. Backed by a professional bunch, their wavey folk-blues is perfection, told in our review of their debut album, Human Traffic. You’re washed over with the sensation you’ve somehow known these original songs all your life, they’d blend so wonderfully into a collection of Steve Winwood, Springsteen in all his Darkness glory, Traveling Wilburys and particularly, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, yet with a subtle hint of English punk, and amusing stage presence, they’re clearly one to watch.

No expense had been spared to make the stage centrepiece, with great acoustics whatever angle you’re situated, as the semi-circle shaped festival, overlooked by the beautiful surroundings of Treacle Brolly embraced it. Top-notch pyrotechnics breathed professionalism into the show as dusk became it, set for Dr Feelgood. A band formed in 1971 which never waned the passing of their frontman, Lee Brilleaux and various member changes, is one I confess my knowledge to not be up to much more than their name, therefore through their qualified skill at projecting some raw-edged blues with expertise ease and passion knocked me for six, particularly, a memorable guitar solo. Even if the encore felt forced when the frontman called it, Milk & Alcohol caused me to realise I knew more about Dr Feelgood than I gave credit for!

Another surprising revelation is the age demographic here, first impressions was an expected older crowd, with their umbrellas and collapsible chairs, but as I enjoyed a rather tasty Sumblers hotdog at the bar, I observed calculating an average age group was near impossible. To nit-pick being kid friendly, could’ve warranted some activities for them, but they seemed as content dancing as the teenagers and twentysomethings who rolled in to enjoy the show; some, I might add, better prepared for inclement weather than I!

But side provisions were adequate for a festival of this size, the upper-end of the food options being a pricey but worthy selection by Green Farm, based in Urchfont. The bar, provided by Ramsbury Brewery was of fair price, and the staff were extremely friendly. And this goes for as a summary of the festival, it was exceptionally localised and welcoming, the organisation of which was untroubled and willing to help with any inquiry.

Working in the morning made me fashionably late, as ever, sorry for missing local band Catfish the most, and only catching the end of The Ex-Men. First act for me to witness was impressive enough. Easy-listening folk Americana filled the bowl from a proficient Joe Martin and backing band. With a golden, rich voice soaring above his age, his originals were astutely written, one called Heartbreak Cult doubly-so, and covers of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain especially wonderful.

I was tipped off to the excellence of this regular event by Devizes’ local music enthusiast and photographer, Nick Padmore some time ago, and on his recommendation made a bee-line for it; it did not fail to live up to it. Yet I didn’t bump into anyone I know from our area, causing me to ponder my notion of a superficially psychological wall on those downs.

Honestly, decades ago when I announced I was moving from Marlborough to Devizes it was met with a horrified reaction, as if I’d suggested moving to Tijuana, or some other murder capital of the world, and equally Devizions perceive to Marlborough to be as affluently cliquey as the Bullingdon Club of 1870, when neither stereotype is true; only a lack of a direct bus route separates them. Yet if such a barrier does exist, it means there’s another circuit of local talent worth exploring, operating literally a twenty-minute drive away. Mantonfest’s dedication to local music proves this, but it’s prone to bringing in some big guns to top it off, too.

The icing on this case, if the mind-blowing Dr Feelgood wasn’t enough, was a welcomed Blondie tribute act as finale. Scotland-based Dirty Harry is the crème de la crème of tribute acts, genuinely and professionally mirroring the magic of Blondie in their prime. The lights shone over the returning drizzle as Mantonfest 2021 came to an enchanted end, tambourine-butt-tapping Dirt Harry, found time to banter with the crowd, young and old, bash out every known Blondie classic, some rarities and even The Ramones The Blitzkrieg Bop unto an appreciative bopping crowd.

Union City Blue, Heart of Glass, Denis and Call Me showcased the culmination of what was a wonderful return for live music in the area, and an area which should take heed, like other towns county-wide; ignore the relation to Devizes in the name Devizine, that’s just our base, we welcome news, events and stories from further afield, including you! And if Mantonfest is anything to go by, I’m taking this show on the road! meanwhile, you should bookmark Mantonfest 2022….


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Recreational Trespass with N/SH

Arriving just in time to catch Swindon schoolteacher Garri Nash by weekday, ambient acoustic musician N/SH by gig-nights, at one of the early mini-festivals of The Crown at Bishop’s Cannings this summer, I’d missed local covers band Paradox play before him. It perhaps wasn’t the most appropriate follow, Paradox roused the audience with lively renowned … Continue reading “Recreational Trespass with N/SH”

The Scribes on a Journey

In the distressing event of a relationship breakdown some take to drinking their sorrows away, others might venture off to “find themselves,” whereas creative types often channel their innermost moods into their art. Themes of love lost are commonplace, arguably cliché, but where Phil Collins sang, “take a look at me now, there’s just an … Continue reading “The Scribes on a Journey”

Wharf Theatre Opens For Autumn/Winter Season with Hedda Gabler

The wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes is reopening this month for a new autumn-winter season; I know, don’t say “winter,” not yet! Hedda Gabler is the first production, running from 19th to 24th September. It’s written by Henrik Ibsen with a translation by Michael Meyer. The Wharf’s chief director, Lewis Cowen is on this one, and it’s … Continue reading “Wharf Theatre Opens For Autumn/Winter Season with Hedda Gabler”

Shut the Front Door and Catch a Bus Month with Wiltshire Council!

The lunacy, much less the audacity to suggest it, of Wiltshire Concillors, and their inability to accept reality, is highlighted in September by the singlemost insane campaign to-date; Catch a Bus Month. “A double-decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and switching just one journey in 25 to the bus would … Continue reading “Shut the Front Door and Catch a Bus Month with Wiltshire Council!”

September Munchies: Return of The Devizes Food & Drink Festival

A festival of gluttonous magnitude descends on Devizes, as the market town welcomes the return of The Devizes Food & Drink Festival. As per-usual, with the exception of the write-off year last, no corner has been left unturned in order to burst the box office when tickets go live on in fortnight, Monday 16th August.

Running later this year, Saturday 25th September to Sunday 3rd October, The Devizes Food & Drink Festival has a full schedule and a variety of interesting food and drink related events, of which I will attempt to sum up here, without getting the munchies and having to nip off for a fish finger sandwich… what? Nothing wrong with a fish finger sandwich, staple diet, mate!

The celebrated Street Food & Artisan Market kicks the show off, its’ free, it’s my favourite in years gone by, primarily because of the free F’s; Food, Festival and Free! From 10am to 4pm, on Saturday 25th September, Devizes Market Place will be “cheese toastie oozing deliciously,” with a generous selection of stalls, sampling wonderful dishes and take-home buys from local producers and traders, not forgetting the Wadworth Bar and live music.

Soul food, also on that day, as author of two successful cookery books and currently cooking up a storm on Weekend Best, ITV Saturday mornings with Martin and Roman Kemp, Shivi Ramoutar will be demonstrating pulled pork shoulder tacos with a pineapple salsa and jerk mayo, 10.30 at the Corn Exchange for £3.

Food writer and columnist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Great Taste Award judge and author of several cookery books, Xanthe Clay will help save on the washing up with a demonstration of delicious one-pan dishes at midday, for another £3.

Kitty Tait, the teenager from Oxfordshire who’s setting the baking world alight at The Orange Bakery in Watlington, Oxfordshire, is on from 2pm at Corn Exchange.

And the evening can be spent at Belle Bathrooms on Sidmouth Street where you can dine somewhere different.

On Sunday, forget the Wurzels, you can get some scrumpy ‘round ‘ere; it’s all down to Bromham’s Cider Shed at 11.45, where craft cider maker, Roger Blake conducts you through the cider-making journey from apple blossom to bottle, seeing orchard, press and end product.

Later, for the younger, Hillworth park has a teddy bear’s picnic, for just £2.50, for storytelling, games, and a healthy picnic. There will be a special guest, possibly the largest teddy in all Devizes – the Julia’s House Bear.

Salem Chapel, on New Park Street is where to dine somewhere different on Monday 27th September, lunchtime Loaves & Fishes, and Eve’s Pudding and enjoy a glimpse of days gone by in Devizes courtesy of local historian Dave Buxton.  

Peter Vaughan shows you how to prepare some deliciously fragrant dishes from Goa, at his Cookery School, on Hopton. The cuisine is a unique mix of Mediterranean with a tropical Indian blend.

And Monday evening could be spent at The Literary & Scientific Institute for the Great Foodie Quiz, or stargazing in a pod at Erlestoke for an out-of-this-world five course meal.

Zooming back to earth Tuesday, to have lunch among the flowers of Superior Plants in Market Lavington, and an evening meal at the Bear Hotel. The five-course menu will be created by Wadworth’s Executive Development Chef, Andrew Scott, who has worked in several Michelin starred restaurants as well as appearing on BBC2’s Great British Menu, and the meal will be paired with wines chosen and described by experts from Wadworth’s wine supplier Bibendum.

Gin masterclass, is a wise way to end Wednesday 29th September, at the The Vaults on St John’s Street. Local distillery Scout & Sage invite you to learn all about gin, or Devizes Books presents readings from Kipling, Tagore, a Plain Tale from the Raj and some Spike Milligan, with three courses of the delicious cuisine of the sub-continent, at St John’s Parish Rooms.

Cheese Hall, at Devizes Town Hall has foodie written all over it. An illustrated talk by art historian Clare Ford-Wille on Food in Art from the Romans to Cezanne on Thursday 30th September. Or perhaps a murder mystery dinner might be your thing? Also at Devizes Town Hall, with The All Cannings Players, bringing you a murder story, Rough Justice, involving an amateur dramatics group, and, naturally, a three-course dinner.

Friday 1st October, is foraging day, meeting points will be supplied with tickets, as small group walks search for edible and usable plants within the boundaries of Devizes. Lunch at the studio of Devizes contemporary artist, Bee Thomas, or take an expert tutorial at Wadworth’s Brewery in signwriting with Wadworth’s sign painter, Wayne Ritchings.

Then the firm fixture on the festival calendar, Friday, the Come Dine With Us experience without the cameras and annoying narration!

A new weekend upon them, there’s an invitation to Horton House Farm on Saturday 2nd October, and the grounds of Parkdale House has a steam engine, on the old Devizes Branch Line; you could be dining underneath the arches, barbecue style.

But thus, this sees the end of The Devizes Food & Drink Festival, with one of the most ingenious events the festival has launched. The World Food event, free at the Corn Exchange Sunday 3rd October from 12.30. Explore the globe on a plate. An event for all the family, where local residents with far flung roots invite you to sample a family favourite from their homeland. Basically, you get little taster portions for 50p a pop. Such a novel idea, and wonderful way to end the festival

 I’m hungry mentioning all this, anyone got a biscuit? No, not a garibaldi, I want nothing less than custard cream, thank you! More info, and to book tickets, click here.


Spend August Bank Holiday at Manton-Fest!

Got your ticket for Manton-Fest yet? Well, hurry up, I need you to give me a lift!

“Tickets for this summer’s Manton-Fest are up for grabs, a one-day festival I’ve heard only good things about;” that’s what I said in a preview last January, oblivious to what was about to be thrown up in our faces. At least all my typing did not go to waste with this one preview, as Manton-Fest is back for 2021 and set to go ahead on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday, the 21st.

Here comes a clip-show then, part-copy and paste, as some of the faithful acts booked for last year are intending to come to this one. As I’ve said before, write off 2020, pretend it didn’t happen, and look forward to this summer. Nesting in the water meadow of Manton Grange, below Treacle Brolly, Manton-Fest is surely one to put in your diary.

The tickets are online only: £30 for adults, £10 for teenagers 12 to 15 years and £5 for 7 to 11 years. But hurry, as there’s a pre-crowd; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021 and ticket numbers will be restricted to allow social distancing.

The headliner is Edinburgh’s Blondie tribute, Dirty Harry. While there’s Blondie tributes aplenty, the band say, “the essence of Dirty Harry is to put on a show Blondie would give the nod to and in true punk style.” Call me, I’m convinced, and slightly hot under the collar. I’m lucky enough to have seen the real McCoy, so expect me to be critical!

The legendary hard-driving rock n roll- blues virtuosos, Dr Feelgood are also booked. A band which never left the road, from forming in 1971 to lead vocalist, Lee Brilleaux’s untimely passing in 1994, they’re still strong.

The Ex-Men are next on the hierarchy, as the name suggests, it’s an amalgamation group made up of Alan Sagar ex-Big Country, Graham Pollock ex-The Hollies, Peter Barton ex-The Animals, Phil Bates ex-ELO and Geoff Hammond ex-Denny Laine; you get the idea. A stimulating sounding assembly, with a wealth of experience between them it couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Vintage blues with a hard-edge groove is the ethos of Barrelhouse, a band who delivered such a mind-blowingly addictive riff on our (plug) 4Julia’s House album, and one I’m very much looking forward to. Another unticked on my must-see tick-list is the excellent Richard Davies and The Dissidents. Since glowingly reviewing their album Human Traffic, they’ve also kindly contributed a track to our Julia’s House album, an outtake from the album.

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

Lancashire singer-songwriter Joe Martin returns after being a hit in previous years. Josie & The Outlaw are “MantonFest veterans,” a 4-piece Americana multi-genre band, blending rock n roll and rhythm & blues into country. Marlborough based beat-combo Catfish are a returning favourite, and Skedaddle are Manton’s very own six-piece semi-acoustic band.

All of this, and perhaps more, will be compered by Marie Lennon for BBC Radio Wiltshire. This festival has a long history, with Katrina & The Waves, Toyah, The Troggs and Led Zeppelin tribute Whole Lotta Led on the billings, so they know what they’re doing; me, I’m looking forward to finally breaking my MantonFest cherry; is there time to buy a festival-jester’s hat?!


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DOCA Receives Culture Recovering Funding

The future of Devizes’ carnival and Outdoor Celebratory Arts is looking great, as DOCA announce today some exciting news; they are delighted to have received funding from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund.

The much-needed funding will cover their overheads in the coming months. Allowing investments in developing their Board of Trustees, employ a Volunteer Coordinator and begin reconnecting with the existing “family” of volunteers. They also seek new recruits to help deliver the fantastic program of events. Such as new volunteer coordinator, Holly Solo-Hawthorn, who joined the team in last November. If volunteering with DOCA is something you are interested in please email: docavolunteer@gmail.com

Chair of the Trustees, Kelvin Nash said, “we know people can’t wait to get out and meet up with others and enjoy all the things we might have taken for granted before COVID. We also know we are very privileged to receive this funding that will help us continue bringing great events to Devizes. We hope everyone will continue to support us this year to make these events happen safely, plans are still tentative of course, but it does feel like there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Artistic Director, Loz Samuels expressed although DOCA are able to start planning Summer events, not all of the usual events will be back this year. “This year will have a different feel but we know that it will be just as amazing as ever. There will be no Confetti Battle this year we hope to combine the Colour Rush with the Street Festival which will add an explosion of colour to the day and we hope to attract some new people along to the event.”

As we look forward to future events in Devizes, DOCA will be touching base with market traders and coordinating a hopeful new season of celebrations. Here’s the plan to date:

Sunday 22nd August 2021 – Picnic in the Park

Monday 30th August 2021 – Devizes International Street Festival

Monday 30th August 2021 – Colour Rush

Friday 26th November 2021 – Winter Parade

Saturday 27th November 2021 – 31 Trees and Counting

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th Feb 2022 – Festival of Winter Ales

Image: Gail Foster

Hoping for a Summer of Local Music Festivals

Presented a punter-based cautionary piece on the hopeful move forward for live music this year, and how chancy it all is at this stage. If the playground remains uneven, I never intended the article to be pessimistic, though it may’ve been perceived that way. I just advised applying caution may be necessary prior to a compulsory detonation of over-excitement.

The other side of the coin of this vicious circle is that, without ticket sales there will be no show. While many organisers have cancelled their regular events, some keep their fingers and toes crossed, others are trying to work through it, and are dowsing a silver lining to this cloud with a summer of festivals planned.

Let’s hope and pray it pays off. Festival websites report that it is, and tickets are selling fast, which agreed, could be a sales pitch. So, you’re left to risk the call, and snap up tickets, especially for the most popular ones. I have faith most festivals will refund you if it either goes Pete Tong, or Pete Tong is booked to DJ, or else ask to retain your ticket for another year, because they organise festivals, and festivals are all about openness and sharing. Booking agents on the other hand, might be another story.

Personally, I’ve done gone got the festival t-shirt many moons ago, and the jester’s hat too, come to think about it; I can bide my time from power-napping in a spinning canvas pyramid, paying over the odds for a baggie of basil, and sliding headlong into a ditch of piss. For many though, particularly younger generations, festivals are essential, and vital, for their wonderful feeling of togetherness. For the music industry it’s crucial to maintain this notion; ignore my aged rant, there is no ditch of piss, not really, not in this clean-cut era!

Let’s run through the locally based choicest ones, which sound too good to miss… but remember to check the individual planned conditions of entry, some will ask you to provide evidence of licensed vaccination or negative PCR test within the previous 48 hour period.

June


11th – 13th: Kite Festival

Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire

Born from a Kickstarter campaign in January 2020, but cancelled for the obvious reasons, it’s this festival’s maiden voyage this year. KITE aims to combine incredible music and breakthrough ideas in a unique programme of live performances and interactive discussions. “We wanted to bring together contemporary and legendary performers, thinkers, writers and public figures from the world of music, politics, business, technology and the arts and give you the opportunity to engage with the people who are influencing the way we live.”

Cultural icon Grace Jones, multi-Grammy-Award winning jazz singer Gregory Porter and gospel legend Mavis Staples were set to lead the music programme for the original date last year, we wait in anticipation to hear the line-up now, as Kite announce they’re working on their 2021 programme. Sign up for their newsletter for updates.


18th-20th: Bigfoot Festival

Ragely Hall, Warwickshire

Another first outing cancelled last year sees its debut this June. Just the map is enticing enough, with a boating lake and woodland and all that stuff. Local breweries and bands, who share the stages with a great line up, including Primal Scream, Fat White Family, Hot Chip Megamix, Maribou State (DJ) Baxter Dury and Dinosaur Pile-Up. There’s also an intersting wellbeing programme with hip hop yoga, boxercise, Let’s Talk About Sex Meditation & Mindfulness, and biscuits & burpees; I’ll just have the biscuits, thank you! Find Bigfoot here.


July


2nd – 4th: Minety Music Festival

Hornbury Hill, Malmesbury

Fourth outing for this popular do. A community non-profit triple day extravaganza, run entirely by volunteers which raised funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and local schools and charities last year. Guaranteed excellent music, a great, wide range of food and a well-stocked house Bar, Gin & Prosecco Bar and Cocktail Tiki Bar! There will also be a range of FREE activities in the Kidzone, including rock climbing wall, rock climbing digi-wall, an inflatable slide and assault course, bouncy castles, circus skills workshops and kids craft workshops, plus many more activities.

Line-up includes, Dr & The Medics, Space, Jesus Jones, Dreadzone, Crikey Minogue & Six Packs, a Ministry of Samba workshop, and a great local roster of Devizine favourites The Tribe, Talk In Code, The Dirty Smooth, A’La-Ska, Navajo Dogs, Sloe Train and Plucking Different. This is going to be a brilliant one, make sure there’s room in your backpack to sneak me in! Info Here.

Should get you in the mood…..

8th-10th: 2000trees Festival

Withington, Cheltenham

A largely rock and indie festival, 2000trees has a good reputation and won awards. This year sees Jimmy Eat World headline, with Thrice, Creeper, The Amazons, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Menzingers, The Get Up Kids and many more to make me feel old!  Tickets & info Here.

9th-11th: – Cornbury Festival

Great Tew, Oxfordshire

Still in the planning stages, this ever-growing festival in the most beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswold location think it’s enough just to announce on headline act, yeah, but it is Bryan Adams; show offs! Should be good though. Info here.


22nd-25th Womad (?)

Charlton Park, Malmesbury

Still hopeful, Womad are holding off announcing acts, but you know, I know, we all know it’ll be the crème de la crème of world music on our doorstep, if all goes well, they’ve secured the date and tickets are here.


31st Mfor 2021

Lydiard Park, Swindon

A family orientated, affordable, one day pop-tastic festival I’ve only heard good things about, could be just the thing to introduce kids to festivals. And with Craig David, Rudimental, Ella Henderson, Phats & Small, Mark Hill (Original Artful Dodger), Lindy Layton on the line-up, it’s easy to see how this party is going to go down. I believe local acts will also be on agenda, certain our friends Talk in Code feature. There’s even an over 18 Friday night special additional event, with Five, S Club, Liberty X, Baby and Rozalla; everybody is freeeee, to feeeel gooood, apparently. Info & Tickets.


August


5th-8th: Wickham Festival

Fareham, Hampshire

New one on me this, but The Wickham Festival is an annual four-dayer of music and arts. Boasting three stages, and rated as one of the safest, most relaxed and family-friendly festivals in the UK, Wickham was voted ‘Best UK Festival, cap. under 15000’ at the Live UK Music Business Awards in October 2015; so, they know their stuff; I mean, they’ve got Van the man, and The Waterboys. Note also, Devizine favs, Beans on Toast, Gaz Brookfield, Tankus the Henge along with Nick Parker on the agenda; sweet! Tickets & Info Here.


6th: Love Summer Festival Devon: SOLD OUT.


7th- 8th: The Bath Festival Finale Weekend

And what a finale it is, Saturday; McFly, Scouting For Girls, Orla Gartland, Lauren Hibberd, George Pelham, Josh Gray, Novacub, Dessie Magee and Luna Lake. Sunday; UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro, Billy Ocean, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Seth Lakeman, Bloco B, Hannah Grace, Casey Lowry, Port Erin Life, and Life In Mono, with more to be announced… Tickets HERE.


21st: Mantonfest

Manton, Marlborough

Any closer than this and it’ll be in your back garden! But that’s not the sole reason to grab a ticket for MantonFest! Just thirty notes for adults, a tenner for teenagers, and a fiver for kids, but that’s not the only other reason. Reports on this family, broad ranging charity fundraising annual do has never been negative, and we’re glad to hear it’s back for 2021. Number one Blondie tribute Dirty Harry headline, along with Dr. Feelgood, Ex-Men (five members of original 60’s bands), Barrelhouse, Jo Martin with his band, Devizine favs Richard Davies and The Dissidents, Josie and the Outlaw and homegrown Skeddadle. We previewed it last year before shit hit the fan; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021. Mantonfest say, “we may have to introduce some anti-covid restrictions. These will be announced nearer the time and will be in line with the latest developments and best practice;” let’s hope this goes off this time. Tickets & Info here.


21st: Live at Lydiard

Lydiard Park, Swindon

Anne‐Marie, Sean Kingston, Roman Kemp [DJ set] Artful Dodger, Chaney, Fabian Darcy on the line-up over four stages for this day festival at Lydiard, with a dance tent, boutique cocktail bar and food court. Info & Tickets here.


21st: Bath Reggae Festival

Now pushed back to August bank holiday, this is the maiden voyage for the Bath Reggae Festival, and we bless them with the best of luck. With a line-up this supreme though, I’d imagine it’ll sell itself. Legends Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, and The Slits solo extraordinaire Hollie Cook, Laid Back and lovers rocker Wayne Wonder, this is a must for reggae fans. Tickets & info here.


September


4th-5th: Concert at the Kings

All Cannings, Devizes

For locals little more can be said about how awesome this ground-breaking festival raising staggering funds for cancer research is. Since 2012 it has bought international headline acts to the sleepy village outside Devizes; legendary fables and the fondest memories have been had there. No difference this time around, save for some social distancing. Billy Ocean, 10CC, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Sweet, Strawbs, Lindisfarne and Devizine favs Talk in Code, with more to be announced; twist your arm anymore, sir? No; no need to! Tickets & Info here.


9th-12th: Swindon Shuffle

Venues across Swindon

A later date for this annual extravaganza of local live music, spread across Swindon’s premiere venues and hugely supportive of original homegrown talent, this is weekend to head for the railway town. Since 2007 the Shuffle raises funds for MIND, and is largely free to attend. Ah, there’s plenty time to arrange a line-up, which is underway, but you can guarantee a truckload of our local favourites will be there, somewhere! Info.


10th-12th: Vintage Nostalgia Festival

Stockton Park, Near Warminster

The mature place to glamp this summer if you want to get retro; classic cars is the concentrate, but there’s no shortage of great bands from rockabilly, doo-wop, blues to mod skiffle, boogie woogie jazz and beyond. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, “Great Scott,” Shana Mai and the Mayhems, The Bandits, Junco Shakers,The Flaming Feathers, The Harlem Rhythm Cats, Little Dave & The Sunshine Sessions, The Rough Cut Rebels, Riley K, The Ukey D’ukes and loads more. Info & Tickets Here.


You know, this one could be for me, rather than trying to look youthful clutching onto a marquee pole for dear life while a hoard of sugared-up teeny-boppers check Instagram amidst a soundtrack of dubstep! But look, I reckon there’s something for everyone here, but if I did miss yours, let me know, for a squashy cup of cider at the festie bar, I must just add your do here too!


Trending….

Just Another Lockdown Festival

JMW Promotions have a free online festival coming this Saturday and Sunday (9th & 10th Jan.)

There’s a lot of names I don’t recognise, which is the best thing about festivals in general, but especially online; local artists without borders. In fact the only performer I have heard of is the brilliant Jess Silk, on Sunday.

Line up looks like this: Just Another Lockdown Festival

Saturday
1pm Sam Draisey
2pm Shotgun Marmalade
3pm Kyle Parsons
4pm BICKERmusic
5pm Harrison Rimmer
6pm Warren Ireland
7pm Brian Stone Music
8pm JollyRoger
9pm Davey Malone

Sunday
1pm ALEX CAVAN MUSIC
2pm michael webster
3pm Have A Go Hero
4pm Doozer McDooze
5pm Sam Tucker?
6pm Maelor Hughes
7pm Ellie Keegan
8pm Brad Dear
9pm Jess Silk

Tune in from the artists Facebook pages which can be found on the event page, or check them out on JMW Promotions or in JMW Promotions Community.

Jess Silk (Image credit: Olver Gray)

Best of luck to JMW and all artists for the weekender, there will be a PayPal bucket linked, please support the artists, you know the drill. I’ll defo be popping in as and when and hoping to hook up with some new talent defo. Might even don my festival jester’s hat, put my cider in a squashy cardboard cup and take a piss behind the sofa!


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Shiine Weekender Festival 2021

Imagine, a festival. Right now, imagining Joe Bloggs from the down the road clonking the ivory and singing a ditty down your local is wishful thinking. It’s hard to envisage an autumn a year away, and I accept, not ideal to invest in a ticket until you are sure this fiasco is blown over. However, if we don’t least assume it will have and buy advance tickets for events, there will be nought sorted for when we can and are itching to go out.

While festivals, for me, are something of a past reality, I just know I’m going to aching to get out as much as feasible. So, we have to tip our hats at those ambitious organisers trying to arrange bonza events on the hope things will return to relative normal. Here’s a blinding example, the Shiine On Weekender at Butlins Minehead. It’s not due until November 2021, when if it hasn’t blown over by then, I think we’ll be clinically insane! Check out the knockout line up.

The festival returns for it’s sixth year, with Feeder, Cast, Peter Hook & The Light, The Coral, Black Grape, Glasvegas and The Bluetones all headlining. Plus 808 State, Asian Dub Foundation, Sice Boo & The Radleys, Ned’s Acoustic Dustbin, Jim Bob, Chameleons, The Pigeon Detectives, Milltown Brothers, Neville Staple Band, and more. Ding dong, I say, tickets are on sale now.

The rest of this piece I’m copy and pasting direct from the press release, save a bit of typing! Go knock yourselves out.

Staking its place as a stalwart of the UK’s Winter festival scene, the Shiiine On Weekender returns for its sixth instalment on the 12th, 13th and 14th November 2021 and boasts an unbeatable crop of indie and dance as always.

Taking over Butlin’s Minehead Arena for a long-weekend escape of music and mayhem, the fest will be hosting a trio of legendary headline acts of the highest order…

Getting the festival underway in style, Friday night headliners FEEDER will see dynamic duo Grant Nicholas & Taka Hirose blasting through over 20 years of hits, from ‘Buck Rogers’ to ‘Just A Day’ and airing cuts from their revitalised comeback LP of 2019: ‘Tallulah’. Marking the 25th anniversary of their seminal ‘All Change’ album, Saturday night will see CAST top the bill with their electrifying live show to remind us just why they were crowned ‘The Who of the 90s’; expect a healthy dose of classics in a confirmed Greatest Hits set too. PLUS, closing-out the Shiiine On Weekender with a Sunday showdown of pure substance: PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT will bring a set brim-full of Joy Division and New Order’s very finest moments.

Giving plenty of reasons to get down the front early, there will be superior supporting sets across the weekend from some long-established festival heroes. Merseyside psych-pop sorcerers THE CORAL (Friday), Shaun Ryder’s rabble-rousers BLACK GRAPE, plus a long overdue return from Scottish shoegazers GLASVEGAS (Sunday), will throw down the gauntlet to the headliners each night.

And of course, the mainstage is just the tip of the iceberg. Revealing its full and complete billing today, the Shiiine On Weekender will pack the holiday park with incendiary indie acts from all eras….

There’ll be sets by Brit-Pop powerhouses like THE BLUETONES who will be arriving for an all-guns blazing greatest hits slot; PLUS, a Shiiine On 2021 festival exclusive set from SICE BOO & THE RADLEYS, which will see Sice reunited with the Boo Radleys rhythm section Tim Brown and Rob Cieka to ‘Wake Up, Boo!’ and their many dormant classics at long last. There will also be sets from The Seahorses’ CHRIS HELME, JAMES ATKIN (of EMF), REPUBLICA, BENTLEY RHYTHM ACE, MOLLY

HALF HEAD, THE CLONE ROSES, and THE SPACE MONKEYS will all be flying the flag for that seminal era of British music.

Elsewhere, 21st Century alternative torchbearers like HUMANIST, THE PIGEON DETECTIVES and GOLDIE LOOKIN’ CHAIN will be showcasing their own tried-and-tested modern festival anthems.

Showing the kids how it’s done, vintage indie veterans including: CHAMELEONS, NED’S ACOUSTIC DUSTBIN, JIM BOB (of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine), THE MILLTOWN BROTHERS, and the JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET will be bringing timeless tunes and experience to the fest.

And with a packed programme of music day and night, the entertainment won’t stop when the mainstage lights go up. Throwing their doors open from 10pm – 4 am, the Shiiine On Weekender’s Centre Stage and Reds Stage promises to be the-place-to-be for top tunes late into the night. Full live sets from proven party starters inc. Acid House innovators 808 STATE, original rude boy NEVILLE STAPLE BAND (ex-The Specials), plus an unmissable closing party set from Electronic/Dub overlords: ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION. In addition, late-night slots from ALISON LIMERICK, DUB PISTOLS, SHADES OF RHYTHM, SUNSCREEM, plus DJ sets from SLIPMATT, JON DASILVA (Hacienda), RHODA DAKAR (Bodysnatchers), radio legends STEVE LAMACQ (BBC 6 Music) and CLINT BOON (XS Manchester / Inspiral Carpets) will ensure there’s good reason to keep the candles burning at both ends.

Announcing nearly 80 artists and performers today, the Shiiine On Weekender can also confirm a huge array of new and established acts who will also be making tracks for the seaside resort come this November. Across the weekend, look out for: ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE, DEJA VEGA, TOM HINGLEY, MARTIN BLUNT, ANDY BUSH, HOLY APES, MATT McMANAMON, THE WALTONES, SECTION 25, THE CHESTERFIELDS, MIDWAY STILL, THE CLAUSE, THE SHAKES, PSYCHO COMEDY, DERMO, DJ MILF, PHIL SMITH, LEO STANLEY, SHADER, UKE2, OASIS (UK), TAM COYLE, DIRTY LACES, CUT GLASS KINGS, THE ROOM IN THE WOOD, THE JACQUES, CROSS WIRES, THE IDLE HANDS, THE MALAKITES, GOOD MIXER, TRAPPSY, DAN FULHAM, WELSH LEE,  LEE HOWE,  DJ STARKEY, DAVID DUTTON, MISFIT MAN, ALEX LIPINSKI, NIRVANALOT, and STEVE ADJ; all of whom will be making the festival’s sixth edition its biggest and best yet.

It’s not all just about the bands either. The Shiiine On Weekender will also be throwing one big holiday park house-party to rival the best, crammed end-to-end with even more entertainment inducing: CLUB NIGHTS, POOL PARTIES, LIVE COMEDY, CINEMA SCREENINGS, a SOCIAL RECLUSE EXHIBITION and much, much more. 

TICKET DETAILS

Taking place 12th, 13th, 14th November 2021, tickets and packages for the SHIIINE ON WEEKENDER 2021 at Butlin’s Minehead Arena, Somerset are on sale now. All packages include 3 nights’ accommodation on-site at the Butlin’s Minehead Holiday Resort. (A deposit scheme is also available for customers who wish to pay by instalments.)

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE:

EXCLUSIVE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT

** PLUS, early bird customers who use the promo code NCB10 will also be offered a discounted rate. This is an 18+ event only. For more T&Cs please visit the website.


Devizes Winter Festival

The weekend traditionally for Devizes Lantern Parade, 27th-28th November, there promises to be a huge magical community event this year, because of circumstances beyond their control, DOCA are doing things a little differently, and invites you to be apart of the Devizes Winter Festival. There are plenty of things to do, see, and get involved in.

FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT
For your delight, they will have roaming performers and an amazing walking trail for you to visit, suitable for all ages.

Projector Boom Bikes by Sound Intervention

Dan Fox will be bringing his amazing projector bikes which will fill the streets with music and light. Interact with all the strange and familiar creatures the bikes project onto the buildings of Devizes.
Location: Leaving from the yard of the Black Swan
Appearing: Friday 27th 17.00 -17.45, 18.30-19.15 &
20.15-21.00 Saturday 28th – 16.45- 17.30 & 18.00-19.00

Celestial Sound Cloud by Pif Paf

Dance and wave and the Sound Cloud will react to you to create a unique conversation in sound and light. Don’t be shy, it’s your chance to be the conductor to create beautiful harmonies and make light patterns like you’ve never seen before. Access to the SoundCloud will be managed by volunteers for your safety.
Location: Wiltshire Museum’s garden, Long Street, SN10 1NS. Access through the rear car park
Times: Friday 27th – 16:00 – 21:00, Saturday 28th – 16:00 – 19:00

The Bell Orchestra by Beautiful Creatures

This amazing supersize instrument is waiting for you to come and play. Created by Beautiful Creatures Theatre who will invite you to experiment with these giant illuminated chimes. Come and enjoy some safe togetherness and make some beautiful music in this lovely Devizes square. Suitable for all ages and abilities
Location: The Chequers Garden, High Street, SN10 1AT
Times: Friday 27th 16:30 – 18:30 & 19:00 – 21:00

Devizes Town Band

Devizes Town Band will bring the sound of festive tunes that you know and love to the Market Place.
Saturday Morning – times to be announced soon

Virtual light switch on by Father Christmas From his home

Like most of us Father Christmas is having a trickier year than usual! To make sure everyone is safe he won’t be appearing in person at the Light Switch on this year but he’ll do it from his home.
He’s asking children to write to him, to help you he has sent us a letter template which you can pick up from the Shambles Market between the 31st of October and the 14th of November. If you want him to write back you’ll need to tick the box on the back of the letter and post it into the red letterbox in the Shambles by 4pm on the 16th of November. All the letters will be sent to Father Christmas who will be reading out a selection on You Tube at 7pm on the 27th along with a tour of his house and workshop. He’ll also write back to you, your letters will be ready for collection on Saturday the 5th and 12th of December between 9am and 12 noon from the Shambles.
The YouTube channel address is http://bit.ly/DevizesSanta

FOR YOUR SHOPPING NEEDS

Doca have selected the best traders in the area, offering a host of fantastic flavours, amazing tipples, beautiful handmade gifts and more. Explore the expanded festive markets in safety over 3 days at your leisure. Please view trading times below.

Friday 27th
Market Place 4 – 9pm
Corn Exchange  2.30 – 8:30pm
The Shambles 10:00am – 8:30pm
Town Hall 2.30 – 8:30pm

Saturday 28th
Market Place 10am – 7pm
Corn Exchange 10am – 7pm
Town Hall 10am – 7pm

Sunday 29th
Market Place 10am – 2pm
Town Hall 10am- 2pm

BE APART OF THE MAGIC  with Window Wanderland

Doca have invited homes, venues and shops to get creative through this Internationally known event, and hope it will become a new tradition in Devizes. Look on the Window Wanderland website or follow the link from ours for more information.
http://www.windowwanderland.com/event/devizes-2020/
Times: 17:30 to 21:00 each night.

Shambles Festive Makeover

With your help DOCA are attempting to transform the Shambles, the roof will be decked with baubles made by the community. Check their website for details for dates and opening times.
docadevizes.org.uk/make-a-bauble-for-the-shambles-installation

HELPING TO KEEP YOU SAFE

Attendees and audiences will be required to follow safety measure. Please ensure you use our track and trace system, scan the QR code in all venues and register using your smartphone
Use hand sanitizer provided
Wear a mask at all times
Maintain a safe distance from people
Bring your own cups for drinks and help the environment too

For more information on Devizes Winter Festival please visit the DOCA website https://www.docadevizes.org.uk/winter-festival/

“Static” Shuffle; Swindon Shuffle Live Streams This Saturday

If you rarely venture into Swindon, July is the month in which to make the journey. Swindon Shuffle celebrates and backs local music, since 2007 hosting a weeklong town music festival at its hottest venues; namely The Victoria, The Beehive, The Hop, The Tuppenny and Baila Coffee & Vinyl. In association with Swindon Link and the West Berkshire Brewery, last year they presented forty-four bands over the weekend, all free, and supported mental health charity MIND.

I was forgiven in thinking this year would be virtual, saving some petrol money at least, but the organisers inform me this weekend’s Virtual Shuffle is only to breeze over this gloomy, Groundhog Day isolation period, and they cross their fingers for the real thing on the 16th-19th July; crossing my toes too!

shufflepost

So, yeah, but yeah, whoop-whoop, Swindon Shuffle will indeed fill this gap with plentiful live streams this Saturday 11th April, kicking off at 3:15pm. Streamed direct from their Facebook page, expect to catch all local acts; Jim Blair of Hip Route, the bearer of Devizine’s heart Miss Tamsin Quin, Mr Love & Justice himself, Steve Cox, jazz pianist, singer-songwriter Will Lawton, Harry Leigh, frontman of indie-pop outfit Stay Lunar, experimental Karda Estra project runner Richard Wileman, Onze from Atari Pilot, Joe Rose and Nash.

mrlove
Mr Love & Justice, Steve Cox

Our favourite Swindonian music journalist, the one and only Dave Franklin, if there’s another he’s a phoney, is all over helping organise this sofa bash. He states “obviously there’s more important things going on in the world right now than worrying about a local music festival, but it is also at times like these that music, art, creativity in general, helps get us through or at least offers an oasis of calm where we can retreat to and forget the day-to-day worries for a bit.”

karda estra
Karda Estra

For me personally, I’m continuing to toil with the worth of the live stream against a real gig, ponder it’s currently all we have, worry either punter or musician are forced onto the ropes when it comes to how they should be arranged and financed and have even encountered and engaged in heated debates as we scramble in the dark trying to make this work best for everyone. This said, if anyone can I’m reckoning the Shuffle team will make an amazing job of it. If there is an upside to it, it is that one can check these artists out for when the gig scene does take off, and boy, I’m predicting it’ll go off like an atomic blast, and it will encourage many to take the journey to festivals such as Swindon Shuffle, in this example.

Will Lawton

In the meantime, enjoy the streams and not let it miff us too much at missing the real thing. I tell myself the scene is dormant; it will erupt again. It should go without saying, but I’m going to spell it out; B, for BUY, U for Yourself (sort of,) Y for some local music, (okay, that didn’t work) Look, just support the artists and buy their music from their websites and Bandcamp sites!

A (hic) Festival of Winter Ales

ales1
Call them Ale

Proper quality celebratory glasses here y’ know, no squashy disposable cups; something of a memento. There are flowers in a jar on the table, aroma of hot pie, and a bulky fellow juggling knifes, while straddling our own Ian Diddams while he lies flat on his back on stage. If your preconception of a beer festival is a marquee in a muddy field, think again, this is the prestigious Devizes Corn Exchange and DOCA, our Outside Celebratory Arts association, are holding their annual Festival of Winter Ales in conjunction with the Stealth Brewery Company.

ales6
Splat the Rat

I’ll come clean, I’m breaking my Festival of Winter Ales cherry tonight, and I’m also fashionably late. Friday night was a sell-out, I’m informed, today is near equal in success, but I’d better hurry on in, the beers were running out. Another confession, I be a cider drinker, part of my five a day. Our man Andy cannot report, he’s here in a professional capacity, tending the bar, least lengthy set of tables. I would have kept him on his toes, but he’s attending to the ale end of things, I’m occupying the cider corner. A rhubarb laced cider is my first glassful, despite the event’s name, there’s ciders aplenty, but the choice of ale was extensive and over the whole weekend you could possibly, but unlikely to, pursue them all.

ales3
Vince Bell

With a customary token system functioning, and barrels aligning the length of the grand hall, there’s part of this event which reflects the standard beer festival format, in a grand fashion. Yet it has a civilised angle, prementioned flowers on tables, etc and surrounding the magnificent stage as if it was an awards evening rather than a beer festival. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint but a compliment, twas a splendid arrangement for a splendid evening; no one need a muddy field in a rain drenched February, save perhaps the odd duck.

ales5
Matt Barnard

If I’m honest, which you know I blatantly am, I’m not surprised by the impressive event, Stealth knows good beer, and DOCA know what they’re doing and could arrange a party on a glacier off Antarctica and it’d still be awesome. Winter beanies off to them both, for this inviting and warming occasion which is, essentially, an important fundraising event which will help fund the carnival and massive summer events such as the beloved annual street festival.

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It’s Complicated

Through the three sessions over two days, our best local bands and musicians played, the wonderful It’s Complicated, Splat the Rat and Vince Bell. I was there in time to catch the finale of Matt Barnard, who has amused as compere, and all-round entertainer through the festival. He’s a confident, comical and cheery chap with that unique Saturday Night at the Palladium ability to cover all aspects of showbiz proficiently. Kris Dollimore followed, with an extensive résumé, this member of Del Amitri drove from Cornwall to pick a guitar akin to an illusionist vanishing the Eifel Tower. I pay particular astonishment to his beautiful rendition of Marvin Gaye’s Inner-City Blues.

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Kris Dollimore

What a most splendid event, one worthy of your attention for next year, and priced at a tenner with first pint free in your keepsake glass, you cannot go wrong.

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© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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A Dirty Harry, some Ex-Men, a One Love Orchestra and more @ MantonFest 2020

Tickets for this summer’s Manton-Fest are up for grabs, a one-day festival I’ve heard only good things about.

The date is Saturday 27th June. A £20 Early-bird ticket will guarantee you’re in for this previously sold-out mini-fest, this year you can book a plot for your gazebo for £5, parking has been moved to a separate field allowing more space, but let’s see what your money will get you this year shall we?

The headliner is Edinburgh’s Blondie tribute, Dirty Harry. While there’s Blondie tributes aplenty, the band say, “the essence of Dirty Harry is to put on a show Blondie would give the nod to and in true punk style.” Call me, I’m convinced, and slightly hot under the collar; with the advantage of YouTube you can judge for yourself, modern technology eh?

The Ex-Men are next on the hierarchy, as the name suggests, it’s an amalgamation group made up of Alan Sagar ex Big Country, Graham Pollock ex The Hollies, Peter Barton ex the Animals, Phil Bates ex ELO and Geoff Hammond ex Denny Laine; you get the idea. A stimulating sounding assembly with a wealth of experience between them couldn’t possibly go wrong.

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The Ex-Men

Vintage blues with a hard edge groove is the ethos of Barrelhouse, who promise up-beat original tracks and classic covers. You be forgiven for assuming the Swinging Blue Jeans would headline, but this classic-sixties rock n roll group have no members of the original skiffle sextet. Yet the band went through constant changes throughout its expansive history, with replacements dating back as far as 1963, when they had their memorable hit, “Hippy Hippy Shake,” and frontman Alan Lovell has led the band for over twenty years.

London-based Bob Marley tribute, the One Love Orchestra could well be my arm twister. Formed in 2010, by musical director and lead guitarist Marcin Bobkowski, One Love Orchestra comprises of reggae musicians who’ve worked with legends like The Wailers, Max Romeo, Johnny Osbourne, Lee Scratch Perry, and UB40, and bring a moving tribute to the legend.

Lancashire singer-songwriter Joe Martin returns after being a hit last year, Manton’s own mellow blues-based Ed Witcomb will also appear, along with local rock covers band @59, and Skedaddle open the show with their mix of soul, blues and jazz. More are promised, if this isn’t enough to be getting on with, and I dunno, it just sounds like a splendid day. For what begun as an event to aid much-needed restoration funds for Manton Village Hall, its grown into an important occasion on our local circuit and aids other local charities.

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Ed Witcomb

More info and for tickets look ‘ere….

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@59


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Street Festival, Yeah!

Images used with the kind permission of

Tanya Jurkiewicz Photography

and Gail Foster

 

Gigantic bouncy slide outside the trusty Pelican, where we usually wait for a bus. Beyond, a superior stage surrounded by pockets of circus acts, charity stands, clothes stalls, and street food heaven wraps the Market Place, where DOCA gave information and a Pimms bar bustled. Happenings snaked down Snuff Street, over St Johns, and across the town centre, the atmosphere buzzing. What’s not to like?

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From fudge and churros, to Tibetan cuisine and crocodile burgers, food and drink was diverse. Stealth Brewery held the most aesthetic bar and seating area, The British Lion occupied the other, functional side, frantically serving the cider which gives this event it’s local auxiliary namesake. Yes, Black Rat Monday, or as the wonderful organisers would favour you call it, The Devizes International Street Festival. Upon us, the customary bubbliest, most multicoloured and all-round brilliant community-fuelled event to bless our spirited market town.

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If many a festival constitutes packing camping gear, blagging petrol money off mates and trekking through town and country to attend, DOCA bring the spirit of festival to your doorstep, and do it with bells on. As the crowd bobbed and gyrated at the main stage, I spotted a musical statue, poised to snap a photo, or ten. Gail turned to me with a smile, “it’s my favourite day of the year,” she uttered. Whatever I write of it will be deficient and incomplete, for there’s so much going on. It’s our Mardi Gras; you wander, you catch what you can, go where you like, impossible for me to document it all, especially half-toasted as I was! Gail summed it in a sentence.

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As the sun shone, I must say yet again, this was the fantastic event it traditionally always has been, and improves annually. Impossible to stage something so vast and varied without slight hip-cups. I’m not rising to grumpy hecklers taken to Facebook to whinge their futile vendetta against DOCA, all over a carnival date change so volunteers can take a well-earned break and schools can be encouraged to participate. Drunkenly calling for the artistic director’s head on a platter, as if they were the manager of Newcastle is pathetic. Did you slip through a wormhole and appear in an alternative reality, because I thought it was awesome? Take your storm in a teacup to Rio, least upon return from Lalaland give yourself the directive to resist the urge to post when sozzled!

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Ha, an opinion piece it be, refraining from writing journalistically as I do, it’s my belief we should praise DOCA, award the highest accolade. This weekend was tremendous. Budget didn’t stretch to quite as many cosplayers, walkers and random street theatre than previous years, something funding will help towards, or hey, the attendees maketh the festival; maybe dress up yourself! No Andy; Spiderman onesie is in the wash, thank you!

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My attention was drawn to an apparent lack of activities at the Northgate end, usually the child-friendly zone. I’ll say Sunday on the Green is more geared towards our younger, still it’s fair feedback. Though, it’s all the criticism I will accept as constructive. Yes, unobtainable was sitting around The Market Cross; it was fenced off due to structural damage and danger of pieces falling; no fault of DOCA. Similarly, a band mistaking their performance time is an unavoidable calamity. This caused a rather vacant period on the main stage, which was a shame, yet well-oiled crowds laughed between themselves, and thus away with the fairies went such trivial issues.

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However, it did mean many flocked past the Town Hall, an area which usually fizzles out back to the reality of everyday Devizes. I’m so happy to say, prompting DOCA to take onboard our local music scene, I suggested something I really couldn’t commit to; had to work in the morning. But it was so, that Pete of Vinyl Realm had similar ideas, and executed a second zone of music in a manner I couldn’t have. My dream to have a little marquee with some acoustic singers was transformed into not only a trailer stage, but acoustic area and vinyl DJ, adding that extra dimension and rounding off the festival site with a definite border.

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It was here where some excellent sets played before an audience larger than we anticipated. Strange Folk were amazing, yet it was Daydream Runaways who really bought the stage to its pinnacle. Sweltering, this upcoming pop-indie amalgamation of Swindon and Devizes, who I’ve been hailing with praise since I discovered, really delivered an energetic and proficient set of favourite covers and their own accomplished originals.

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Often supporting the guys, Ben Borrill acoustically owned the area next, followed by Devizes space-rockers Cracked Machine. Having not managed to catch this headline act live up till now, I pondered if they could recreate the sublime atmospheric ambience they do on record, and I was not disappointed. This Pink Floyd of the vize volleyed it out of park. With trickles of intoxication, the sound apt under the heat of the sun, the crowd were whisked away blissfully.

 

This was, quite honestly, a highlight of the day, the whole idea to have the second stage was. So, a massive respect goes to Pete, Jacki and all at Vinyl Realm for organising and funding this, and to the Lamb who supplied the power, in more ways than one; I saw Sally wander over to band to hand them all some well-deserved hot dogs!

 

If this doesn’t convince DOCA to support our local music scene, nothing will! Pete has already suggested interest in doing it again next year. But, feeling the need to cover as much of the festival as possible, I scarpered back to witness the most gorgeous African fusion band on the main stage. Blinking heck, s’ all going on, so much so, it’s going off.

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Truly fantastic DOCA and everyone who contributed their share, worked the bars, hosted side stalls and attractions and of course, the bonded spirit of you, the revellers; dotted with the special events, leaving next weekend for Confetti Battle and Colour Rush, I call to embrace this change, as this is destined to progress annually, we should be the envy of all of other towns and be proud of what has been achieved this weekend.

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© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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How Does Devizes Confetti Battle Compare to the World’s Most Bizarre Festivals?

Perhaps the most interesting part of our chat with DOCA coordinator, Loz, and definitely, the most controversial was the carnival’s date change. Still social media comments groan that Confetti Battle was traditionally on a Wednesday. Yet, bringing it to a Saturday makes it feasible for higher attendance, particularly tourists and day trippers.

Loz expressed it could be as renowned as the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll, and intends to diversify and extend the concept to interest a wider audience. In Devizes we take it for granted people annually gather in the Market Place to fling confetti at each other, without contemplating how bizarre this notion is to outsiders. Bizarre attracts adventurous visitors, hunting for something different; they’d come, they’d spend money, but less likely on a Wednesday evening.

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This morning I read a blog about The Rainforest World Music Festival, three days partying in the rainforest near Kuching, Sarawak in Malaysia. Okay, the English was poorly translated, but the photos wowed. Given I’ve jested the word “festival” these-days seems to be a new-fangled soundbite whereby anyone can pop up a gazebo, hire a man with a guitar, sell some tinnies and allow gatherers to piss on his rhododendrons, and dub it a festival, it got me thinking exactly what constitutes a festival, internationally, how bizarre do some get, and how does our Confetti Battle compare?

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Investigation exposed some pretty outlandish and curious events, and some complete bonkers. Many you’d need to pack a suitcase for a lengthy flight for, others it seems are not so far away. The Coopers Hill Cheese Roll in Gloucestershire cropped up more times than injuries undoubtedly caused there, but nowhere have I discovered mention of Pewsey’s locally eminent Wheelbeerow Race, or Devizes and the weird custom of lobbing confetti at each other. Think outside the box, or Brittox, it is a tad weird, guys; but both on weeknights.

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Do they compare in weirdness to a moose dropping festival? Talkeetna, Alaska, it’s not snow falling from the sky, but moose poo, painted white and dropped from a helicopter! Or the International Hair-Freezing Contest in Yukon, Canada, where, as the name hints, using only water and the frosty air, contestants freeze their Barnett Fair into the most peculiar and eccentric shapes?

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Go under, check my pubes

While some are just ascetically bizarre, like the Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, or Florida’s Underwater Music Festival, it’s the theme of many which alarms or amuses; Roswell obviously has a UFO Festival. Devon’s Blackawton International Festival of Worm Charming, is a thing. The World Bog-Snorkelling Championships in Llanwrtyd Wells and Ashbourne’s toedium smack down, the World Toe Wrestling Championships are too.

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I want to be just like him when I grow up

Wife Carrying Championship, anyone? The wedding vow of husbands metaphorically carrying spouses in times of sickness is taken a smidgen too literally in Sonkajärvi, Finland. Awards for the swiftest, toughest and amusingly costumed pairs are handed to contestants who carry their wives across a 254-metre obstacle course. But at the Festa del Cornuto, outside Rome, the Festival of the Horns, the men of cheating wives’ parade, crying and smashing possessions they gifted them to honour and console their woe.

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I’ll give you put the cat out!

Confetti Battle is a tad more family-orientated, like Krampusnacht in Germany, where every December an anti-Santa hands every naughty kid a lump of coal. Why not dress as devils and jump over our babies, because it has constituted a festival for over four-hundred-years in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain? If you think Don Quixote in a Lycra Satan suit leaping over your darling isn’t quite psychologically traumatic enough for them, how about Tokyo’s Naki Sumo, where oversized sumo-wrestlers square-up in a ring, each holding a baby, the contest being the first to make the other’s baby cry? Supposed to ward off evil spirits, so if your kid sees no fear in the wrester, the referee jumps in donning a scary mask to ensure a change of nappy is needed.

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Think that’s scary? You should check my nappy, pal!

Some are pleasant, like the Cheung Chau Bun Festival in Hong Kong, where competitors’ climb sixty-foot towers of sweet buns which line the streets. Or the Floating Lantern Festival in Hawaii, and Beer Floating in Finland; steady, floating down a river in an improvised raft gulping Carlsberg. Others equal this pleasantness but add humorous elements, like the village of Brawby, where the Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race takes place over Bob’s Pond.