Within the last five years, there have been more and more festivals popping up around Northern Ireland.
We now boast a range of different offerings, those in the countryside, those in the city as well as the smaller one-day festivals in a venue. Limavady-based Stendhal Festival of Art have been steadily increasing it’s offering year-on-year and 2014 proved to be it’s greatest yet.
Our writer Hannah Goodall stopped off at the festival to catch a glimpse of a few of the many acts on show and briefly summarises below whilst our great photographer Craig McCullough captured some fantastic moments of this year’s festival.
Saturday 9th August – Ballymully Farm, Limavady
11:46AM Arrived on site. Traffic was bumper to bumper along a narrow country lane and the sun was beaming down. Found a parking space in the crowded, sodden field being used for that purpose and made my way towards the main event.
12:01PM Armed with my camera I make my way through the first of many muddy fields – Stendhal Festival of Arts is as vast as it is fun with nearly forty locations on the site for attendees entertainment. At the main stage I caught some of Callum Stewarts set. I’d return here later for Glenn Rosborough and Silence.
12:09PM Everything I had planned to do on site starts to take a back seat as the fun loving, family friendly atmosphere was hard not to get swept away in and, with so much to see I was content to mill around the various stages.
12:11PM Passing by Keady Corner I caught some of The Sync Project. A project run by The Nerve Centre in L’Derry. Working away at it are Paul and Dan from The Wood Burning Savages who are one of the festival’s closing acts, performing on The Karma Valley Stage later than night.
12:15PM I made my way down into Karma Valley, it’s bustling, I can see a number of tents pitched for various purposes, I can hear the 28 days soundtrack playing from somewhere – it’s The Steve Experiment on The Karma Valley Stage -who later goes on to play Game of Thrones to the delight of everyone in earshot.
12:23PM I’ve been doing a bit of style spotting as I have been wandering about, catching my eye is a beautiful young woman in an old fashioned air stewardess uniform. Turns out I’ve just bumped into Burlesque performers Bella Agogo and Soup Du Jour. The pair performed on the Friday night to a rather entranced and admiring crowd.
12:35PM I can hear Amidships warming up in the Air Stage behind me. I part ways with the Burlesque performers who have been a real delight to talk and await the Amidships – they were one of the acts I had travelled down to see and, they were worth it, their twenty minute set was energetic and punchy. Their music a great soundtrack to the blistering heat and beaming sunshine. Afterwards I caught Jay from the band for a quick chat; “We only arrived on site before we had to go on so, we’ve not caught anyone yet, I did hear the Game of Thrones theme tune playing but, I’m looking forward to see Emerald Armada and, Frightened Rabbit later”.
13:05PM I have some time to kill before Glenn Rosborough hits the main stage and, as the weather continues to hold I can’t help but continue wandering. It’s such an intricate site and although there are thousands of people coming and going, to-ing and fro-ing from site to site the people are so friendly, happy to chat away and happy to be photographed. Kids are running about playing with hula hoops and stilts, balloons are bobbing along the skyline and music fills the air.
13:25PM I’m sitting on a makeshift bench outside the main stage now enjoying falafel and coffee before heading over to the hospitality area to catch up with The Wood Burning Savages – two of them at least – the aforementioned Paul and Dan.
Paul: “We’ve been here from about eleven this morning, we do a lot of work with the Sync Project through the Nerve Centre so we were here with our kids and doing workshops with them”
Dan: “It’s great seeing the kids perform songs they’ve written entirely themselves, you really see their confidence grow, we’re so proud of them.”
Paul: “We’ve just wrapped up with The Sync Project so we’re heading off to play an acoustic set”
Dan: “It’s been great, we’ve really enjoyed being here and the way it’s worked out we’ve been able to catch bits and pieces. We’re one of the closing acts tonight and I think, it’s going to be great!”
Paul: “Yeah it’s the last night of the festival and everyone is always really hyped come the last few acts of the night, we can’t wait.
14:15PM The Troublesome Bucks are wrapping up, the day has really flown in and although I have done nothing I had planned to for my own site I’ve really soaked up the great atmosphere and the fantastic performances. Stendhal is my type of festival. I’ve a pretty short attention span and with so much going on and, so much to do I have been kept entertained and, amused.
14:30PM The tent is packed for Glenn Rosborough. He’s even better live than he is recorded. The band are fantastic, you can see how close knit they are and that tight relationship comes through the flawless music they are playing. His new single “Never Gonna Let You Down” real gets the crowd going. He’s described as “World Class” and he really is! Before they wrap up we are treated to a performance of his upcoming second single, it’s a cracker and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
15:00PM A little folk band from Armagh take to the stage next, Silences. I love their soft sound and their quirky acoustics and, live, they don’t disappoint. After the heart-pounding performance delivered by Rosborough, Silences take things down a bit with a mellow set that has its own bite. They are a nice breather between Rosborough and noise-makers The Clameens which makes their performance memorable in it’s own way.
Stendhal Festival of Arts is a true festival. Mud and mayhem galore with great music and fantastic entertainment for all the family. The great weather seemed to have everyone on cloud nine. Hannah Goodall, GiggingNI.com