Reduced but still Rambunctious
The Great Estate Festival Garden Gatherings
Yards of colourful bunting decorates each bubble at the Garden Gatherings
The award winning Great Estate Festival was among the many festival casualties of Covid this year, but the fantastic team at the heart of it were determined not to let the summer pass without a musical gathering.
Following weeks of consultations on safety measures, a mini festival in the shape of The Garden Gatherings went ahead at Scorrier House this weekend. Driving into the fields on Friday evening the reality of the forcibly diminished numbers hit home; the camping area, normally filled with brightly coloured camping tents and fairy lights filled just a tiny corner of the field and the car park field itself was quiet.
The registration queue was orderly and calm, with everyone staying in their own small groups adhering to social distancing. On completing our Covid questionnaire and confirming our contact details we were finally on our way through the woods to the much anticipated Garden Gatherings. The woodland decorations are an integral part of the Great Estate with weird and wonderful objects randomly placed amongst the trees, but the deccies for the Garden Gatherings included regularly spaced arrows and reminders of social distancing, large bottles of hand sanitiser were freely available across the site and festival staff wore face masks.
Our wrist bands bore the reference for our bubble and plenty of stewards were on hand to show us safely to our designated area; it felt very weird to be ‘fenced in’, but each bubble was decorated with yards of colourful bunting – not an inch of electrocuted cattle wire in sight! The bubbles were so festive and welcoming that punters happily made their bubbles home for the evening without being tempted beyond their own perimeter.
Friday evening was a wonderfully low key laid back affair with acclaimed local bands Winter Mountain and Perfect Blue Sky supporting popular festival headliner Newton Faulkner. With performers declaring how good it was to be back on stage after months of nothing, it was hard to know who the most excited people in the field were - the festival goers or the performers!
Saturday evening was less laid back, more ramped up with a Silent Disco and local indie faves Penny Eyes supporting funk legends Daytoner who are regulars on the Craig Charles Funk n Soul Show and beloved by festival fans.
Sunday night delivered an awesome party with a stellar line up headed by Plymouth’s Mad Dog Mcrea and top support from local bands Land of the Giants and Bonetired.
The Garden Gatherings were just what was needed as we head into what will be a very long winter. Ironically we’ve enjoyed the best summer weather for years, but Covid put an end to our normally hectic summer festival season.
The fabulously rambunctious Great Estate Festival stuck 2 fingers up to Covid by morphing into a much smaller, less ostentatious affair proving that determination and passion will overcome all obstacles. The festival may have been scaled back in size, but not in quality with a varied line up and terrific performances all weekend.
Huge congratulations to everyone involved in making the Garden Gatherings happen; allowing music fans to enjoy an amazing weekend while keeping within the rules is a logistical nightmare, but the safety measures were brilliantly managed throughout, giving festival goers a feeling of security without being heavy handed or regimented.
Covid might be here to stay, but it will not stop the music - the superb team behind the Garden Gatherings have accomplished something very special in creating a template for the future.