The Cambridge Folk Festival celebrated in style with a line-up and atmosphere that truly befitted its 50th anniversary year.
The event, which had sold out in advance for several months, saw headline sets from Van Morrison, Sinead O’ Connor, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Richard Thompson, Rosanne Cash and Newton Faulkner. From the minute the gates opened on Thursday lunchtime, to the closing strains of Sunday’s final acts, the event had a celebratory atmosphere from performers and audience alike.
Among the celebrations was a secret guest performance on Sunday afternoon on Stage 2 from singer/songwriter and Festival-favourite Kate Rusby, who also appeared later the same day on Stage 1 immediately after Van Morrison’s headline set, to lead an emotional Festival crowd sing-a-long of the folk classic Wild Mountain Thyme.
The Festival’s birthday was also celebrated through a series of onstage talks with the likes of folk legends Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy. Festival organiser Eddie Barcan also reminisced on memorable moments from the event’s long history and Festival illustrator John Holder chatted to broadcaster and musician Nick Barraclough, about Festival memories and his classic designs. The talk was accompanied by a Den exhibition of old Festival artwork stretching back across five decades. John’s 2014 limited-edition commemorative poster was also a Festival sell-out!
With many musical highlights of the weekend, notable sets included: a historic Festival set from legend Van Morrison; a powerful and moving performance from Sinead O’Connor; members of the Festival’s singing workshop joining Ladysmith Black Mambazo on stage for a song; Newton Faulkner mesmerising the audience with his percussive guitar virtuosity; folk-collective The Full English, hot on the heels of their double Folk Awards win, rediscovering English folk classics for a new generation and an emotional Festival return for the much-loved Fisherman’s Friends.
Other memorable highlights of the packed weekend included: The Mariachis (as seen on the Doritos advert) wandering into the thick of the audience to perform cover versions that included I Can’t Get No Satisfaction and Don’t You Want Me Baby, leaving an amused Thursday night crowd chanting for more; Newton Faulkner playing an impromptu set in the Cherry Hinton campsite Cider Bar and folk-punk band Skinny Lister finding their double-bass player crowd surfing (complete with double-bass) to an amazed Club Tent crowd during their Thursday set.
With the celebratory atmosphere at its height on Saturday night the Festival’s smallest stage, The Den, which showcases up and coming young acts, had its first ever onstage marriage proposal - a Festival attender romantically asked for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage in front of a cheering crowd - thankfully she said yes! Friday afternoon saw an emotional moment with the unveiling of a memorial bench to remember Ken Woollard who developed the Festival from its beginnings in 1965 until his death in 1993, with Ken’s widow Joan Woollard present to say a few words.
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Community, Arts & Recreation, Cambridge City Council said “The 50th Cambridge Folk Festival has been a true celebration and everything we could have wished for in our anniversary year. We would like to thank all the festival goers who made it the success it is and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.”
Held annually in Cherry Hinton Hall, the beautiful tree lined park in Cambridge city centre, the four-day outdoor Cambridge Folk Festival is considered one of the ‘most prestigious’ in the world, according to The Times. The 51st Cambridge Folk Festival will run from 30 July to 2 August 2015. Tickets will go on sale on 1 December 2014.
Photo Credits: (1) Cambridge Folk Festival Logo, (2) Sinéad O'Connor, (3) Cara Dillon, (4) Megson, (5) Moulettes (by Cambridge Folk Festival).