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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 10th 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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