Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Ten Things You Will & Won't Miss About The Cambridge Folk Festival

You Will Miss the fabulous state of the festival toilets. Armitage Shanks, that's right... Armitage Shanks inside the prestigious toilets behind the main stage. I've often found myself cringing inside these ridiculous unhygienic toilets at the 100k plus audience festivals. Thankfully, the average age level and civility of Cambridge, its people, and the fans of folk, have a dire need for smell-less, well cleaned toilets.

You Won't Miss the crowded arena footpaths. This is down to the countless folk goers who pop up a chair or two, blocking your route from A to B. To put it into a Cambridgians perspective, it's like trying to overtake a party of cyclists on one of Cambridgeshire’s constantly busy roads. These chairs leave the young and restless audience with nowhere to relax.

You Will Miss the rain in the evenings - bear with me. When it rains at the Cambridge Folk Festival, the chairs vanish. There's a wave of panic, and it's one of the most releaving feelings. You can actually walk across the arena care free and without hazard lights on.

You Won't Miss the pointless pre-slot announcements made by members of the Cambridge City Council. Over four days, these councillors gave brief descriptions of the artists ready to come out and shine, but it wasn't so. On occasion, the councillors delivered a well-thought out honest introduction. It doesn't make up for the useless speeches lasting minutes, taking time off of people's sets. It was awkward for some artists who were visibly put off by their introduction. Most were read out from a piece of paper, copied from Wikipedia with very little detail.

You Will Miss quiet camping and fantastic amateur (though this can be disputed) performances at the Coldham's Common campsite. If you're planning a trip to the Cambridge Folk Festival, I recommend staying at this campsite. The toilets are clean, the showers are... More a less clean, and the entertainment is fantastic.

You Won't Miss waiting in line for the bus. When the clock strikes 11pm, the Coldham's Common campers flock to the bus stop - queue. It takes about 30 - 60 minutes every night after the final acts finish. Granted, these busses are reliable, fast, and free, but catering for thousands of sleepyheads is a ridiculous task. More busses won't make a difference because once one leaves, another one is ready to load. It's just frustrating to wait in a long bus queue when it rains.

You Will Miss the excellent variety of food stalls. Mexican, Indian, Italian, and British, are all well represented at the Cambridge Folk Festival. The prices are lower than most festivals, and the portions are fairly average, but filling. You don't need to walk to Sainsbury's, or cook your own food at Cambridge.

You Won't Miss the appalling consistent sound mistakes caused by the sound technicians. This is more than a pet peeve. I experienced vocals too high and instrumentation too low, bass too loud making the sound system shriek an incredible level of white noise, and incidents which left vocalists without a working microphone.

You Will Miss the fantastic music the Cambridge Folk Festivals has to offer. From the travelling festival stage - The People's Frontroom, to the folk left-field stage - The Den, Cambridge offers some of the finest up and coming acts around. Then there's the two biggest stages, filled to the brim with energetic and fun performances. I can't wait to see what they come up with for their 50th anniversary next year.

You Won't Miss stuck up middle class pensioners. They bring chairs, they criticise everything, they take 50 minutes in the shower they moan waiting for the bus, they moan on the bus, they moan getting off the bus, and their condescending actions make for an unpleasant experience. Inside Stage 2, these stuck up middle class pensioners set up a mini-picnic during sets, staying seated during the music. When this happens, people are unable to get in the tent or have a decent view. The festival already has pop-up chairs and blocked paths, now you can't even see or hear the music. It takes a call out from the artist on stage to make people move forward, though the stuck up middle class pensioners are reluctant to leave home base.

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