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Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the Park, Manchester

Anh Nguyen attends the ice cream of the crop of summer festivals

Written by . Published on July 27th 2011.

Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the Park, Manchester

HEATON Park was the location of the northern leg of Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the Park. Being a North Manchester inhabitant the news of a local festival was exciting. The most memorable events in the past few years have been Fun Loving Criminals’ appearance at an outdoor screening of Pulp Fiction, and who could forget the recent Oasis/Kasabian extravaganza . This time, the line-up included Maximo Park, Gary Numan , Ash, Fun Loving Criminals and Ocean Colour Scene.

After taking place at Clapham Common in London, over the past seven years it’s the first time Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the Park has made it up north.

The highlight of this family-friendly festival wasn’t the crowd-pleasing greatest hit sets, or being able to get a lamb roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding wrap accompanied by amazing roast potatoes (portable Sunday dinner - genius) but the fact that there was free, unlimited Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in more than twenty flavours.  Very clever Ben & Jerry. 

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t Glastonbury or Reading, but it was a festival with a difference.  After taking place at Clapham Common in London, over the past seven years it’s the first time Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the Park has made it up north.

Saturday was on the quiet side. It was a shame it wasn’t widely publicised, but I wasn’t complaining as it was refreshing to be able to get served, use the toilet and eat as much ice cream as I wanted without waiting. I must be getting old. 

With vintage merry-go-round and swings, a helter skelter, quality food outlets (think falafel, paella and roast dinners), face painting, balloons and various farm animals wandering around over the weekend, this was certainly a family friendly festival.   It didn’t feel like Heaton Park, or Manchester for that matter.

Now to the music. A weekend of nostalgia was on the cards and I wasn’t disappointed.  Gary Numan rocked the crowd with ‘Cars’, the north-eastern Maximo Park got people to their feet as they played singles, with the charismatic Paul Smith bouncing across stage in his signature bowler hat.  

Ash began their set with ‘Oh Yeah’ and made an effort to cover hits, ‘Girl from Mars’ and ‘Burn Baby Burn’, adding a couple of more recent releases, including ‘Return of White Rabbit.’  The ever smooth Huey rocked ‘Scooby Snacks’ and Louis Armstrong’s  ‘We Have All the Time in the World’ against the backdrop of a clear sky and hundreds of sunburnt faces.  Ocean Colour Scene opened with ‘The River Boat Song’, with other favourites including ‘So Bad’ and ‘Day We Caught the Train’ to follow. I felt 13 again.

It could have been a very different weekend if the weather wasn’t as kind, but it was a triumph and as a marketing exercise, it was genius. Heaton Park should do this more often. 

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

tblzebraJuly 27th 2011.

How full was it do you reckon?

Bruce WayneJuly 28th 2011.

Saturday was awful, I felt embarrassed. Hardly anyone showed up.

Chris GrimesJuly 28th 2011.

They never promoted it in Manchester! They had posters on the tube in London though

AnonymousJuly 28th 2011.

erm, i saw loads of adverts for it on buses, billboards etc. didnt go becuase i hate ben and jerry's hypocrisy pretending to a caring and ethical company when they sold out to unilever ages ago. Mostly though i didnt go becuase the bill was rubbish - too vintage indie disco for my taste - apart from the deeply wonderful duke and the king who i suspected would be rather out of place.

AnonymousJuly 29th 2011.

Didn't go on the Saturday, but Sunday was fairly busy.

Quick point though, Ash opened with 'girl from mars', not 'oh yeah'!

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