a fantastic atmosphere runs throughout the weekend at GuilFest

GuilFest 2014 review

published: Thu 31st Jul 2014

around the festival site (Sunday crowds)

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th July 2014
Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey, England MAP
£120 weekend with camping, child 12-17 £85, u12s free
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Fri 6th Jun 2014

Having never even been to the town of Guilford, I had no real clue what to expect from the festival. Arriving at silly o’clock and, in doing so, totally missing the box office I managed to worm my way on site thanks to some highly accommodating staff and friends of. Unfortunately, by the time I got there the music was winding down – this being one of the perils of holding a festival in the middle of a busy urban area.

Despite this, however, the Funky End Dance Tent was still in full swing with resident Ade (also one of the organisers) throwing out anthem after anthem to a hungry audience. Various remixes of some tried and tested classics such as‘You Got the Love’ were accompanied by some relentless and infectious drumming from the aptly named ‘Bongo man’.

The Guilfest faithful tumbled into one another, throwing their plastic cups into the air liquid spattering down, mingling with the sweat dripping from the already drenched crowd. As the stream rose off the bodies of the collective, any fears I had that this weekend wouldn’t go off with a bang evaporated with it.

In the light of day, Stokes Park revealed itself to be a decent location. Easily accessible and not so big that you’d abandon all hope of ever seeing your friends/family again if you were to separate. Upon securing a programme from the information tent, the first thing I noticed was the sheer size and variation of the line-up.

Guilfest has boasted some huge acts in the past including the likes of Orbital, Motorhead, Blondie, The Pogues and Madness - to name a few. This year’s instalment of artists was no disappointment. The acts ranged from Fun Lovin' Criminals, and The Sugarhill Gang, to Boney M, Ms Dynamite, and Jedward ….and yes,Jedward were everything I’d dreamed and more.

In all seriousness though, while the Irish-pseudo American duo both met and exceeded my expectations for mindless chatter and incessant stage prancery. It’s undeniable that whoever booked the pair knew what they were doing. Looking back into the crowd, which had gathered for the ‘performance’, it was plain to see that whether it was through genuine enthusiasm for the…music, or through some morbid sense of curiosity, Jedward had become the focal point of the festival.

And let’s face it, if you want to go to a festival which caters solely for your personal tastes, you should probably just go ahead and try to launch one of your own…see how far it gets you. Guilfest definitely provides a platform from which to jump, tumble and stumble on acts that you may not have previously had the opportunity or the foresight to see.

One classic example of a hidden gem I’d never had the pleasure of catching previously was Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer who, by his own admission, “treats the ladies well and is not a two timer”. Taking to the stage with supreme confidence and relaying tune after tune in a genre he comically and aptly terms; ‘Chap-Hop’, this fine-fellow summed the ethos of the festival. His re-workings of classic hip-hop tunes such as ‘Straight Outta Surrey’ had the whole crowd dancing around in stitches creating a fantastic atmosphere which ran throughout the weekend in Stokes Park, everyone seemed to be up for a laugh and adverse to taking anything too seriously.

The Sunday bought yet more sun, and the 3 piece outfit, Captain Flatcap – these boys took the stage by storm. The live band plus DJ fused dubstep, swing and ska form a sonorous eruption of funky melodies played on various instruments including trumpet and synths set to a backdrop of deliciously wobbly bass.

It would be a crime to write about Guilfest without mentioning the time and effort spent in catering for the little people. Yes, families bring your young along for the fun!Guilfest, crowned ‘Best Family Festival’ in 2006 by UK Festival Awards, is equipped with many a play pen and safe area including the Kidzone which offers a range of activities designed to keep children occupied making the festival truly one which can be enjoyed by the whole family.

All in all, it seems the festival has come along way since its humble beginnings in 1992, now attracting up to 20,000 festivals goers each day over the weekend. The organisers have obviously put in a great deal of time and effort to ensure the weekend is a winner for festival goers of all ages, shapes and sizes. I’m already looking forward to next year!

review by: Bella Whately

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th July 2014
Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey, England MAP
£120 weekend with camping, child 12-17 £85, u12s free
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Fri 6th Jun 2014

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