In days of yore, at the slightest sniff of a sunny weekend, the Great British Public would, in a futile attempt to keep the kids quiet for five minutes, hop into their cars and happily spend four hours in a traffic jam, overloaded with bucket, spade and sandwiches wrapped in paper on the way to the beach.
But life moves on. No longer do children yearn for a day at the seaside, unless said beach comes with wifi.
Seeking to replace the seaside in the G.B.P.’s affections is the Great British Music Festival. It seems you can’t travel around the country over the summer without bumping into a music festival. This weekend alone sees the neat and polite Metronomy play Blissfields in neat and polite Winchester, the energetic and raucous Skepta play Wireless in the energetic and raucous Finsbury Park, and er, the champagne swigging and Morris Dancing Kaiser Chiefs will be playing the champagne swigging and Morris Dancing outer reaches of Chipping Norton at the Cornbury Festival. And the briefest scan through the sort of websites than list these sort of things will reveal a dozen others scattered about the country (The Human League, ABC and Tony Hadley in Southampton, hosted by Pat Sharpe, anyone?)
As anyone who has been to a music festival will know, however, there are drawbacks to said events, namely:
- Falling over in energy sapping Mud
- Miles of walking from stage to stage
- The toilets.
- The cost.
- Why not just go to the seaside?
So thank goodness for the festival that for the last decade, due to its location in Chalkwell, (on the way to Southend on Sea, Essex) has managed to combine a festival with a trip to the seaside. It’s probably Essex’s best kept secret, if we discount the mystery of the continuing popularity of Made In Essex.
It’s only £15 a ticket for adults, a tenner for over tens and under tens are free, which is so ludicrously cheap that it is verging on a practical joke. Furthermore, Village Green manages to fit eight stages in one park, so there’s no endless trudging around, and it’s on a field that normally serves as a cricket pitch rather than a place for cows to eat grass and relieve themselves in kind, so “mud” is never an issue. I do rather feel sorry for the opening batsmen of the local cricket club the following weekend, where the trampling of ten thousand feet over the wicket as people move from stage to stage must result in something of an erratic bounce to be accounted for no matter which roller they elect to use.
Run by arts charity Metal Culture, Village Green manages to condense the attractions of Glastonbury into one day and one field, neatly avoiding all that trudging about for miles, losing your friends in the queue for the loos and slipping in puddles of mud. It is a performing arts festival featuring music acts, theatre, poetry, outdoor arts, circus and cabaret, visual arts, comedy, improvisation, film, workshops and games all set in a lovely Victorian park with the Thames estuary and beaches just a short walk down the road.
Highlights of the festival this year promise to include a stand up comedy club performed by comedians but with jokes just for kids, presumably ruling out Frankie Boyle from the headline spot. On the music front we have superb noisy rocker headliners Nothing But Thieves, the less noisy but no less superb (and slightly sweary) Kate Nash, whose best known song, “Foundations” is one of the few hit records that joyously references the trials of a boyfriend being sick over your new trainers. Another highlight is the return of Sam Duckworth aka Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.
So far so good.
Which brings us back to the Great British Weather….
…And would you believe it, it’s going to be sunny and 26 degrees.
So that’s that, then. No reason not to go.
So perhaps you are at a loose end this weekend? Still yearning for the fun you had at Glastonbury? Or maybe you missed out on Glastonbury…
Whatever the reason, what better way to spend a quintessential English summer’s day, than on a quintessential English Village Green…?
Advance tickets for Village Green 2017 at Chalkwell, Essex (a short walk from Chalkwell station, a 45 minutes train journey from London Fenchurch street) are available by clicking this link