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Photos: Squelchy Sunrise Celebration Festival as revellers tackle quagmire

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

  • The sun came out on Sunday afternoon

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The organising of a British outdoor music festival is a most curious business concept.

You can spend a year planning, organising licences, booking bands, sorting out traders, arranging wristbands and hiring fences.

If you do this in Somerset you will have a considerable advantage – the country's best and most experienced festival organisers and crew are on your doorstep.

The chances are that you will try to do this with the loftiest of intentions and the greenest of ideals. You can get everything honed to a razor sharp edge and prepare for every eventuality but one.

And that is of course the most important – the British summer.

Many of those attending the Sunrise Celebration Festival at Gilcombe Farm near Bruton wryly commented that the rescheduling of this year's festival for the solstice week – tra ditionally used by the Glastonbury Festival – was asking for trouble.

In the run up to the festival the heavy rain seemed to have eased, and blue skies on midsummer day itself promised great things. But on Thursday, the official starting day for the Celebration, the heavens opened.

Careful planning kept the worst of the water at bay and the festival's green ethos helped. Where at other festivals the build-up of litter always compounds the problem, at Sunrise the scrupulous clear-up of rubbish in the worst of conditions makes negotiating the site bearable even if there is a tidal wave of mud to deal with – and it is a lot easier to tidy up afterwards.

Festival headliners The Imagined Village performed on Friday night between the raindrops, and for most of Saturday the main stage operated – right up until the point more heavy rain began to fall – according to some estimates a month's rain deluged the site in five hours.

At this point the organisers – who were already dealing with the logistics of looking after the 11,000 people on site and keeping the show going – threw in the muddy towel, abandoned the main stage and moved all the acts into the wide range of tented venues instead, which came as a considerable relief to all.

Sadly the rain also put an end to plans for a mass carnival parade – a highlight of the festival in past years.

Sunday morning saw a mass exodus as those who felt they had endured enough left for home, squelching slightly.

Others descended on the Batcombe village play area jumble sale stall to snap up dry clothes

And a cut-price deal for Sunday visitors brought in a sizeable crowd of locals and teams of local performers and musicians pulled out all the stops to entertain – as did the television set in the onsite Gilcombe Farm Shop bar, until Ashley Cole fluffed his penalty kick.

Clearing up at Gilcombe Farm is now under way and despite the experience the organisers are already preparing for Sunrise 2013 with earlybird tickets on sale now at £65.

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