Monday, September 06, 2021

Solfest 2021

Solfest, North Lakes Country Park, Cumbria. 28/29-August-2021.

It is a long time since I sat in a field listening to music. 10 years in fact, since we went to Cropredy in 2011. Before that it was the Oxford Mayfly festival in 1974 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. There have been many other music festivals in between but in much more manicured locations. I think I will have to do a post “My life in… Music festivals “.

Every festival is, of course, different and these are things that struck me about this one:

Demographics: this had a much broader spectrum of ages and musical styles than, for example, Cropredy or the Great British Rock and Blues Festival. Both the latter were heavily biased towards the older generation, many with grey ponytails. This was a much more cross-sectional group of all ages and a number of family groups.

Open space: I was surprised at the amount of visible grass considering it was sold out. There was masses of open space between the groups of attendees. Some other festivals have been more like a giant mosh pit. In these Covid times that was very welcome.

Fancy Dress: we learned from our friend Kate that Solfest always have a fancy dress theme for the Saturday, this year it was under the sea. Suddenly the number of pirates hats, scaly mermaid leggings, and jellyfish umbrellas made sense! There was some seriously impressive costumes. It added to the overall jollity of the event.

Multiple stages: the festivals we have attended have varied from a single main stage to multiple stages. The latter makes it difficult to plan your entertainments especially if the bands you want to see overlap.

At Solfest we stuck with the main stage, we found ourselves a spot next to the mixing desk in the blue and white inflatable and put up our folding picnic chairs for the duration.

Line-up on the main stage:


  • Urban Naitives (before we arrived)
  • BAAB (left little impression)
  • SMOOVE and Turrell (very enjoyable funk)
  • MyLittlebrother (ok)
  • Horace Andy (great roots reggae)
  • Maximo Park (alternate rock, very acceptable)
  • Cut Capers (past our bedtime)


  • Razzamataz 
  • BlueJam 
  • The Gift Horse (first we saw, vaguely folky, female lead singer)
  • Weirdstring Ceilidh (hugely entertaining, accomplished musicians who had the crowd doing a number of dances including "Ceilidh Dodgems"
  • Jack Found (left little impression)
  • Hardwicke Circus (enjoyable rock)
  • Dutty Moonshine Big Band (electronic dance, highlight of our evening and apparently most of the crowd)
  • The Amazons (accomplished rock band)
  • Basement Jaxx (getting cool so decided to pass)

We both took a quick detour into the Bar Stage on Friday to see local band DelaGrave who we had seen previously at close quarters in the upstairs at Fell Bar in Penrith.

Also appearing in the Bar Stage late on Saturday were the Buzzcocks but the tent was heaving as we passed so we decided to head on home.

Catering: there was a wide selection of food stalls so you don’t go hungry. All tastes catered for. The main beverage seem to be beer although other options were available.

Dutty Moonshine Big Band: apart from proximity to Penrith, one of the reasons for booking this particular festival was that one of my nephews, Chris, is the drummer with this band appearing in a prime slot on Saturday evening. 

Even allowing for familial bias we reckoned they were one of the most popular acts. 

The crowd were really jumping, literally (a rare correct use of the word "literally").

We missed the Sunday mainly because of the ever-changing logistics of our cancelled flights to Italy and the consequential changes to our accommodation booking. 

Touristing: We had arrived a day early and took the opportunity to relax and do the tourist thing. We had considered visiting the various Roman forts along the coast but in the end had a very pleasant wander around Cockermouth which turned out to be a delightful town.

On the Saturday morning we, of course, had to check out the nearest parkrun so went to Workington and ticked off another tourist venue. A small friendly crowd, an out and back course and a very respectable time for me of 26:38.

On the Sunday morning we packed up and back to Penrith for a do-it-yourself Annafest (beer festival) round at Nigel‘s. He had requested appropriate costume. A quick trawl of our wardrobe and charity shops provided passable results:

Bavarian hunting green:

Bierkeller wench:

Off to Italy next, Ciao ...

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