A few days ago a 5-day spiritual and cultural feast took place. The eco-friendly festival, which feeds off the vibes that people coming together create, turned out to be a soggy weekend of mud, live music, late night DJ's, exceptional value for money, kids entertainment and lots more.
The festival had a ton of really cool unique venues. One of my favourite places was solar powered tipi, The Bimble Inn. It brought many acts to Sunrise including raw-sounding guitarist John Fairhurst. His band created an electric party atmosphere in the Bimble by getting everyone dancing, and in the spirit of Sunrise (more on that later), kept it going for a excitable crowd through a power failure – sheer professionalism and good cheer. The Bimble also brought back acoustic roots band Insomniac Jack, and Ten Ton Tongue who have an AWESOME guitarist who uses pedals in the right way and a vocalist like Patti Smith.
Another favourite venue was an AWESOME nightclub. Enter the venue, run by The Ghetto Funk Club, via the TARDIS, through a psychedelic narrow corridor, opening onto the dance floor. It played host to world class DJ's my favourite being Goodgroove!
The site itself was made up by six areas, which I must say didn't help people to cope with the mud; although the cool thing was that you were always discovering new places. The mud and rain could not dampen our spirits and I had a growing admiration for the site crew. The conditions were truly challenging, every part of the Sunrise crew – from lost kids to extra clothing to clean loos – rose to the challenge: they excelled.
Earlier on I said the festival had exceptional children’s entertainment and it really does. The chilled kids' area caters for every child’s curiosity. It thrived on difference and diversity and these are the bedrock of the talented Jamaican artist and story-teller, Kulcha Lee, whose endless patience and expert guidance helped the kids produce fantastic artwork. There was a skate park, rock climbing wall, and sock wrestling, scrap fashion, music tech workshops, and best of all, everything was free! My sister personally enjoyed a tent run by London-based, The Floating Hat Collective. They were also giving away their hats for free! At the tent you could customise hats from their large and outlandish stock. Their open friendliness, laid-back approach and free-flowing ideas again sums up what this festival is all about. You should check these people out if you want a chilled and creative fun time.
On Friday night one of the biggest bands on the bill, The Imagined Village, took to the majestic main stage. The twisted folk collective, which features folk-royalty Martin Carthy, played a flawless set in which fiddle player Eliza Carthy took advantage of this opportunity to dance and made many trips up the ego ramp/catwalk sunrise had provided.
Another hot place to be at the festival (PUN INTENDED) was by the open fire at The Temple Of Unity. The Temple Of Unity was a really laid back area where you could experience peace, listen to talks or just snuggle up by the fire. It is difficult to imagine a festival packed with green living workshops, spiritual talks and spaces of all kinds, healing treatments and political exchanges, but that also manages not to be pretentious. To my amazement, Sunrise and the people who go there, pull this off. Everyone was made to feel completely welcome and safe, if soggy. Sunrise photographer, Robin Markland, told me he’s been coming for years because it is just such a great place to be and such a different experience.
But back to the music…and the mud. The music is pretty eclectic. From talking to other people there, the line-up was more ska influenced than previous Sunrise festivals – the Chai Wallah stage played host to most of these bands and was always buzzing despite its sloping dancefloor providing perfect mud-pools. Dizraeli and the Small Gods, and King Porter Stomp were my favourites there.
Undercover Hippy put on a storming show at the Bimble Inn (and by the way congratulations to Emily and all her crew there – the sound was excellent, the welcome friendly, and they really looked after me). I also really loved the Will and the People at the Small World Stage. This lovely venue was made even better by the talented DJ, Ruth Bloomers.
More rain did not help the swampy site but I was ecstatic to be stuck on the campervan field – we were meant to be going home on Sunday but we could not get towed off the field which meant an extra day of Sunrise for my family! This was one of the best days in fact. The sun came out and everyone made the most of it. I spent some happy hours with new friends, treated myself to some more good music, and had one last mad dance on the podiums in the Beyond the Stars club.
Again, I cannot tell you about all the things we did and the things we didn’t get round to doing (the sauna, hot tub, cabaret, traditional skills workshops). Overall Sunrise was a great experience. It really made you feel that it's slogan, 'Another world is possible', really is true! My personal highlight though was that after a set at The Bimble Inn on Thursday night, I (Ned The Kids Dylan) managed to play the main stage on Saturday evening (see photos – I can’t thank you enough for the lend of the guitar and getting me backstage). I'm definitely going to be returning to Sunrise next year!