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Kendal Calling

Cheaper, smaller, and more intimate.... Kelly Ormesher thinks Kendal Calling could be a festival circuit hit

Published on August 7th 2009.


Kendal Calling

The Kendal Calling festival moved to a bigger location this year in Lowther Deer Park. The beautiful scenery was a stalk contrast to the visible Travelodge and A road of last year's event, but it wasn't just the setting that had improved. The whole festival had moved up several notches, with a better layout, improved organisation and great acts.

When we arrived, a helpful tractor was on hand to take us, our bags and beer to the campsite entrance.

With a capacity of 6,000 and at only £70 a ticket, Kendal Calling is a cheaper, smaller alternative to established festivals like V and Glastonbury. Yet its diminutive size hasn't stopped it attracting big name acts: The Zutons, Ash, The Streets, Idlewild, and Noah and the Whale all performed on the main stage this year. With another 150 acts playing, including some legendary names such as folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner, it more than justifies the ticket price. A personal highlight was Sunshine Underground with their Nineties-style indie.

Although the music is always the main attraction for me, the way the organisers took the hassle out of the festival-going was another big plus-point. When we arrived, a helpful tractor was on hand to take us, our bags and beer to the entrance. With a short walk through the forest to the campsite, it made the whole experience easy.

The main entrance to the stage area was only a couple of minutes walk from the tents, so it wasn't a problem to go back for drink and jumpers. The site was small which made it straightforward to find everything, although maps would have been a welcome addition.

Part of the fun is exploring though. Wandering around the site, we stumbled across tents and stages playing folk, acoustic, jazz and comedy. The second stage showed both jazz and comedy at the same time – amusing when the ad-hoc style went a little wrong.

The festival reminded me of a smaller version of Glastonbury – it catered for every age group with family activities like the toboggan, snowboard simulator, and the Tribe of Tat Children’s Area. Lowther Park acted as an open-air gallery, with art installations ranging from giant inflatables to a Jackson Pollock-style living room.

There was also a great selection of food stalls, unlike at the more commercial festivals with the usual offering of burger, burger and more burger. The food ranged from Mexican to Mediterranean, with an excellent vegetarian selection. Prices were pretty standard for a festival, ranging from £3 for a panini to £6 for an organic chicken korma curry.

Like with all festivals, especially young festivals, there was room for improvements. Toilets – always a hot topic – weren’t as bad as previous years, but more were needed in the campsite, as were bins and recycling points.

Overall though, the organisation and atmosphere was great. This festival is a goer, and it's one I’ll be heading to next year. My only hope is that it doesn’t get too big and spoil the intimacy.

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

Social WorkerAugust 7th 2009.

Face-painting ought to be classified as child abuse.

jollie laidAugust 7th 2009.

What fun people they look. How many bars of soap do you think they actually own between the lot of them?

LouiseAugust 7th 2009.

People :-)

Young Man with a HornAugust 7th 2009.

Arthur's right. Most of the bands on festival bills are mainstream stuff off boring old Radio 2!Why middle-aged suburban chumps would prefer to sit in a filthy, crowded field smeared in excrement to 'enjoy' this parade of mainstream, middle-of-the-road mediocrity is beyond reason.

Billy ButlinAugust 7th 2009.

Festivals are just like a p*ss-up in a run down Pontins but with the added attractions of theft, pneumonia, trench foot and dysentery.

Big-Hearted ArthurAugust 7th 2009.

Nonsense! So you are a feckless binge drinker then? No doubt you set a poor example of adult behaviour in front of unfortunate children who dragged along to these events by their fashion-victim parents?

Missing the pointAugust 7th 2009.

Big-Hearted Arthur isn't so big-hearted. If you enjoy music, there is nothing better than spending your time with friends and people who also enjoy the same type of music at a festival. The festivals are actually a lot cheaper than going to see all these bands individually. You can bring your own beer and food, and only some festivals prevent festival goers taking in their own alcohol - but even then to buy a pint is cheaper than London prices for example. It strikes me that Arthur doesn't really know what he is talking about, and just felt the need to comment for the sake of commenting. Shame on you Arthur!

macaAugust 7th 2009.

What is/are "peops"?

Big-Hearted ArthurAugust 7th 2009.

Of course I said 'flip'! I once got into terrible trouble with the BBC when I said the word 'H*ll' on a live broadcast! Didn't I , playmates? Aye thangyow!

Big-Hearted ArthurAugust 7th 2009.

I can understand the point of music festivals in the 1960s and 1970s because 'underground' music simply didn't get on radio or television. These days with umpteen media outlets for whatever stuff moody adolescents like, I can see no point in festivals except as a way parting the gullible from their money. The BBC devotes THREE digital channels to coverage of the Glastonbury Festival for flip's sake! I suppose immature, middle-class dads and hippy mums who never went when they were young love it though, but it's hardly the vital, revolutionary spirit, is it?

Ay!Carmela!August 7th 2009.

Loving Arthur bemoaning the lack of a vital, revolutionary spirit while saying 'flip' instead of ****.Festivals are fun as an exposure to bands you might never see, ordinarily. Nice vibes, nice people. It's not all Glastonbury, you know.

LouiseAugust 7th 2009.

Ay!Carmela! - these peops haven't been to festivals - hence the neggy comments. Shame - they may find they'd enjoy them.

Ay!Carmela!August 7th 2009.

i Most of the bands on festival bills are mainstream stuff off boring old Radio 2! You're going to the wrong festivals, mate.

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