*VIDEO* GuilFest 2014 - music and arts festival in Guildford
After a year away, GuilFest is back again this summer, promising more festival fun. Here’s our essential guide to making the most of it...
NEED TO KNOW:
What? The GuilFest music and arts festival has been up and running (with the exception of last year) since 1992 When? Friday July 18 to Sunday July 20 (the campsite is open from Thursday July 17, 10am to midday on Monday July 21) Where? Stoke Park, Guildford GU1 1ER How much (with camping)? Adult weekend, £120; young person (12-17) weekend, £85; and child (5-11) weekend, £30 Buy your tickets @ guilfest.co.uk
ON THE BILL
From 80s legends to cutting edge rockers and DJs, there’s something for most ears at this year’s festival
- 1 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 2 8 of the best places for a bluebell walk in Surrey
- 3 17 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 4 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 5 35 great Surrey pubs with beer gardens and terraces
- 6 Win a short break in London at The Dilly on Piccadilly
- 7 Bluebell walks in Suffolk: Beautiful spring woodlands to explore
- 8 19 great places to eat outdoors in Cheshire after lockdown
- 9 7 magical bluebell walks in Devon
- 10 Bluebell woods in Derbyshire: Top 5 places to go for woodland walks
The deckchairs will be out at the main stage this year as people book in their spot to watch the likes of The Boomtown Rats, Kool & The Gang and The Human League headline. At other times on the main stage, there’s everything from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Doors covers to MS Dynamite and Naughty Boy.
Over on The Good Time Guide Stage, Public Service Broadcasting, Boney M and Dreadzone will be leading proceedings, while things will be a little darker in The Big Cheese Cave with The Blackout, Soulfly and Gallows. Meanwhile, at the Vive Le Rock Stage, Sham 69, Buzzcocks and Ruts DC will be heading things up. And that’s before you get to The Funky End Dance Tent, The Surrey Advertiser Stage, The Live Club Stage, The Acoustic Lounge, La Discotheque, The Cosmic Comedy Tent, or even The Man In The Moon Theatre Tent. So plenty to keep you going then!
For the full line-up, visit guilfest.co.uk.
Pass for a pro with our top tips
What to wear...
From hipsters to hobbits, anything goes. Whether fashionable or fancy dressed, there are no rules when it comes to festival garb. Well, there might be one: if you wear wellies, it’ll be so hot they melt to your feet, and if you take sunscreen, it will rain the hardest it has since Noah built his ark.
Having battled your way to the last patch of open grass, you’ll have to pitch your tent. A process that has driven many a festival goer crazy – normally after realising half the required poles and pegs are missing and there’s a gaping hole in the canvas. So check your tent before the weekend. If you’re looking for a little luxury, there is space for camper vans and, whisper it, there are hotels in town…
What to eat...
Festival food is not all about eating cold beans and Tracker bars these days. Any number of stalls will be supplying sustenance, providing for everyone from the most ardent vegetarian to those with a taste for a burger and fries or curry. The 150-ft beer tent will also be serving GuilFest bitter.
Tripping over tents, guy lines and sleeping people is no fun, so take a torch for late night returns. And, everyone likes to feel fresh once in a while (even at a festival!), so plenty of wet wipes are a convenient and easy must-have. You could also head for a quick dip at the nearby Lido. Also, while GuilFest’s toilets are kept to a good standard, it’s always better to play on the safe side and take your own roll...
THE LAUNCH PAD
GuilFest’s Ade Goldsmith reveals the many music stars whose careers they have helped to launch...
• James Blunt played halfway down the second stage (his first festival experience!) back in 2004 – returning to headline the main stage in 2011.
• Reigate’s Newton Faulkner also played mid second stage in 2006, before becoming an international superstar the following year after the release of his album Hand Built by Robots.
• The Darkness were booked for the main stage at 5pm on the Friday night of 2003. One week before playing GuilFest, their album Permission to Land went straight in at No. 2 in the UK album charts. It was probably the busiest opening slot in the festival’s history.
• Similar story with Tinie Tempah – when booked for the 2010 festival as a dance tent headliner he was quite famous. However, between the booking and the festival, he had a No. 1 album. That was one crowded tent!
• Jamie Cullum played the festival in 2003, again halfway down the second stage line-up (notice a pattern here?!). Back then, barely anyone had heard of him – but I don’t need to tell you how successful he is now!
• Winners of the British Breakthrough Award at this year’s Brit Awards, Bastille played the second stage (halfway down the bill) in 2012. No one knew who they were! Then, in March 2013, they had a No. 1 album…
Share your favourite GuilFest memories with us @ facebook.com/SurreyLife and twitter.com/SurreyLife
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2011
Why we all love GuilFest!
From Seventies rock god Roger Daltrey to current chart busters N-Dubz, GuilFest 2011 was another cracker. Here, five revellers reveal their favourite festival memories...
Peter Gordon Eagle Radio “I’ve been lucky enough to have been at almost every GuilFest (or Guildford Live as once was) over the years. Eagle Radio has always enjoyed its involvement too. Every single year has had its great moments. I remember one year having a neck and shoulder massage on a balmy Friday evening just yards away from Labi Siffre performing! GuilFest is just that sort of event. Out of everything though, I am going to pick two highlights. Firstly, being able to introduce David Gray onstage – Babylon had just become a huge hit – an example of the great timing Tony Scott frequently achieves. The second highlight was in 2005 when GuilFest boasted two of my boyhood/teenage obsessions as highlight acts: Paul Weller and Status Quo. I was at the front for both and, just for a moment, imagined I was much, much younger. That is true GuilFest magic!”
Jude Spedding Finance administrator at Guildford Heritage “My one and only experience at GuilFest was a very memorable one for many reasons! Having seen the forecast, I turned up in full wet weather gear only to feel very geeky standing amongst the crowd who were obviously seasoned festival-goers. We watched the Charlatans then caught the Lightning Seeds as the sky became overcast and the forecast appeared to actually be right for once. As the skies darkened, so did my mood, especially when the rain started. Soon, despite my waterproofs, I was soaked right through and demanding to go home before the headline act. Thankfully, my other half persuaded me to stay. From the moment Brian Wilson came on and said, “Hello London!” I had the biggest smile on my face. The rain may have been pouring down but the sun was most definitely shining throughout his performance. Totally drenched but singing our hearts out, the atmosphere in the crowd was amazing; a moment I will remember for the rest of my life that always makes me smile.”
Gavin Thomas Musician and festival compère “I’ve been fortunate to be a compère on the Second Stage at GuilFest for many years now, and I have a whole host of fantastic memories of the weird and wonderful acts I’ve introduced onto the stage. But one of my favourite days was the Sunday of GuilFest 2000. A practically unknown David Gray had been booked months previously to play the festival, and was given an appropriately early slot. However, a matter of weeks before the festival, Gray released Babylon, which went straight to No. 1 and became the song of the summer. So, after some subtle re-scheduling, and a last-minute helicopter flight, David Gray followed the sublime Joan Armatrading, gracing the Main Stage in glorious late-afternoon sunshine. He stole the show, and was given a rapturous welcome by a huge and very happy crowd. Jools Holland followed, and then Van Morrison… a truly perfect GuilFest day.”
Ade Goldsmith GuilFest co-organiser “Every year, GuilFest brings fantastic experiences and I have so many wonderful memories from my time at the festival. I’ve been at every GuilFest since 1997, so it is very difficult to pick out a single favourite moment. But back in 2002, the Saturday night headline set from Fun Lovin’ Criminals was definitely one to remember – an excellent crowd and a great vibe permeating throughout the site. I also have fond memories of huge crowds dancing away to Madness in 2003, the entire main stage crowd singing along to Ocean Colour Scene’s The Day We Caught The Train in 2004, Paul Weller in 2005 and, last year, Orbital’s show on the Friday night was visually one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen anywhere, let alone just at GuilFest! These are just a few amazing musical moments that stick out in my memory, but there have been so many over the last decade-and-a-half, it almost seems unfair to just focus on these!”
Robby Elson Managing editor at the Guildford-based Genesis Publishing “My first time at GuilFest was in 2002 watching the wonderful Billy Bragg. I was a veteran of 15 Reading Festivals and a Glastonbury and I was blown away by the laid-back, homely feel of GuilFest. My favourite year was 2007 when I took my two-year old daughter to her first festival. GuilFest is the sort of place that accommodates a two-year old. We laid out a blanket in sight of the main stage and decided that Evie could have a late night and sleep in the car on the way home. When Madness came on, it was a wonderful moment. Every face in the crowd had a smile, no one jostled or pushed, and every voice joined together to sing One Step Beyond! As the saxophone hit and the ska beats pumped, Evie took her cue and, along with the rest of us, danced her way through the entire song. Now five years old, she’s something of festival veteran, but that first will always be a favourite memory.”
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2010
Team Surrey Life pick their GuilFest 2010 highlights
With gorgeous weather, great bands and a glorious array of stalls, 2010’s GuilFest was another resounding success. Here, a few of the Surrey Life team share their own personal highlights of the festival
‘Due to deadlines, I had to miss the Quo, so for my own personal highlight I’m torn between the sheer nostalgia value of watching Nineties dance act Orbital and the infectious energy of seeing great new bands such as Futures and Young Guns in the Rock Sound tent (oh, and the Human League’s Electric Dreams was a bit of a guilty pleasure, too… sshhh!). Most memorable of all though was getting the bus replacement service back home on the Saturday night, with every single passenger singing their heart out to Staying Alive, as it wended its way through the Surrey Hills. It made the Knight Bus in Harry Potter seem positively normal.’ Caroline Harrap, editor
‘While I’ve always been aware of them, I would never have called myself a fan of The Blockheads. That all changed at this year’s GuilFest and it’s to my shame that I never saw them perform with Ian Drury. My favourite story to come out of the weekend was learning that the current singer, Derek the Draw, was both Drury’s friend and minder during his lifetime. A magic set. PS Well, that, and watching a rendition of The Wizard of Oz at 1am in the theatre tent…’ Matthew Williams, staff writer
‘Having not been to a music festival in some years, it was great to be at GuilFest. Brilliant music, lovely weather and a fantastic atmosphere! As well as the eclectic range of bands, both new and old, there was so much to see and do. A personal highlight for me was taking along my baby daughter Molly to her first music festival so she could rock out with her old dad!’ Damien St George, advertisement sales manager
‘I think trying to pick a single highlight this year is just far too hard. After all, how can you compare sitting on the floor in the comedy tent rolling with laughter to enjoying Young Guns’ blazing set at the Rock Sound stage? Apart from the obvious great music, a personal highlight was just being in front of the main stage with friends and soaking up the eclectic atmosphere: young or old, rocker or roller, dub stepper or head banger… everyone was happy!’ Ade Holder, senior account executive
‘This was my first ever festival – and what an experience! Highlights varied from laying in the sun listening to Alvin Stardust to walking round the various stalls selling all weird and wacky things. The best part though had to be the Sunday… Great bands, great weather, all building to a great atmosphere for the headlining act... Status Quo! They’ve still got it, haven't they?!’ Donna Green, account manager
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2010
The history of GuilFest
From humble beginnings, GuilFest has grown into one of the biggest events in the Surrey calendar. Matthew Williams meets founder Tony Scott to get all the backstage gossip
With the ‘staycation’ spirit at the forefront of the modern British summer holiday, it’s perhaps not surprising that the popularity of music festivals has soared in recent times.
Over the past few years, the number of festivals around the country has exploded, along with the crowds themselves, and it’s an increasingly competitive environment, with the main draws jostling for the big names that put tents on pitches. At GuilFest, however, they feel they’ve got their own ace in the pack.
“How many festivals have a lido next door?” says Tony Scott, who founded the festival in 1992, as we catch up at their Guildford base. “It can’t be many, if there are any others. Imagine that: waking up feeling a little groggy, or perhaps it’s just a really hot day, and you can go and swim in crystal waters. It beats the mud at Glastonbury!”
Being in the marquee business, it’s been a relatively short jump for Tony and his team to running a festival – well, having the tents was always going to be a good starting point. Not even he could have predicted, however, that the one-day folk festival he originally launched would explode into the relative behemoth the festival is today, attracting up to 20,000 a day through the gates.
“It just made sense to us, really,” he says. “As a marquee company, you tend to get involved in the setting up of events and we were doing all these things around the country and couldn’t work out why our home town of Guildford didn’t have something going on.”
Dark days are over Back in 1992, when the pubs shut at 11pm and the only nightclub in Guildford was Cinderella’s, the thought of a three-day music festival must have seemed a long way off.
“We went to the council and at first they weren’t very keen on the idea and so the first one we did was the folk festival,” says Tony. “It had to start at midday and finish by seven – they didn’t want us to keep the neighbours awake – and it could only be on a Bank Holiday Monday because Saturday’s a big shopping day in Guildford and Sunday was a day of rest.
“The headline act was Peter Sarstedt, who’d had a hit with Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). It was £5 to get in, and we had two old ladies selling cider. Everyone had a good time, about 500 people turned up and we thought let’s do that again next year.”
These were more innocent days for music festivals; they weren’t the sponsored, corporate entities that many are today. A couple of toilets and a small scaffold stage (or trailer) was normally deemed more than sufficient – as long as there was a bar. These days, health and safety regulations and the sheer rise in popularity of festivals mean that the quality has improved significantly. However, it’s also made them more expensive to run.
“It’s become much harder to put a good festival on because we’re all fighting over the same headline bands,” says Tony. “So many festivals have gone bust over the years. Michael Eavis told me once that it took him 11 years to break even with Glastonbury and their profits still aren’t huge.
“The licensing laws don’t affect festivals in the same way they do live music in pubs, but the standards and what is expected have gone right up. It puts a cost on festivals and makes it more difficult to be profitable.”
Seemingly counter intuitively, music festivals have become increasingly less about the music and more about the overall experience. They are a place to be seen; they are a cultural hub... While music may still be the driving force, they are about so much more than that now.
“These days, comedy is huge, too, and theatre isn’t far behind it,” says Tony. “People have loosened up and there is more traditional dance as well – whether it’s to keep fit or just have fun. People at a festival can participate more than they can at gigs or concerts. It’s more interactive. It’s a more relaxed atmosphere – for instance, people will wear stupid costumes they’d never think of wearing normally.
“Look,” he adds, in a conspiratorial whisper, “ours is the kind of festival where a grandson could say to his granny that he won’t be coming round next weekend and then they’ll bump into each other at Stoke Park, grandson dressed as a Goth, granny as a punk with Abba-loving mum and Seventies rocker dad along for the ride.”
Something for all Whether you’re a hardened festival veteran, someone who’d prefer hotel relaxation and a swim every day or a day-tripper looking to pack a hamper and just enjoy the music, GuilFest’s central Guildford location throws open all the opportunities. So, with the event now such an integral part of Surrey’s county town calendar, how important is Guildford’s growth as a cultural hub for the festival?
“Well, there’s so much happening in Guildford now; it’s great,” says Tony. “In no time at all, the Academy of Contemporary Music has become one of the most respected music colleges around, and only a few years ago he was working out of his mum’s garage!
“The university is getting massive, absolutely exploding, and the Guildford School of Acting has just moved there, too. It’s not just the arts college people, though. You try telling the tree surgeons at Merrist Wood that they aren’t into music; they’re all in bands, too. It’s been fantastic for the festival.”
With all eyes now on the brand-new £26m, 1,000-seater civic entertainment centre, which is currently under construction in the town, Tony hopes this Guildford resurgence will continue and get people used to a culture where they can get out the house a lot more. That it should also help the town attract the top stars – the acts that could put Guildford and Surrey on the map – will certainly not do any harm, either.
“Compare Guildford to what it was like 20 years ago and it’s like another town; it’s come alive,” he says. “That means that we should have many more happy GuilFests to come.”
And a few more Surrey rock tales
• In the four years that John Lennon lived in Weybridge from 1964, The Beatles cemented their status as the world’s biggest band.
• Ringo Starr is a keen photographer and has a house in leafy Cranleigh.
• The Faces’ Kenney Jones owns Hurtwood Park polo club in Ewhurst and singer Mick Hucknall lives by Burhill Golf Course in Walton-on-Thames.
• Status Quo's Francis Rossi is happy living the quiet life in Purley's Webb Estate.
• Discover life down The Farm with Genesis' Mike Rutherford.
• Genesis Publications in Guildford has been creating limited edition hand-bound books mainly about rock stars and bands for over 35 years.
• Queen guitarist Brian May lives with his wife, the actress Anita Dobson, in the West End area, near Woking, where they have an animal rescue centre in the garden.
• Recording studios: the now closed Strawberry South studio in Dorking was opened by 10ccs Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, in 1976, and is said to be where parts of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory were recorded.
• Ginger dreadlocked Surrey songsmith Newton Faulkner once worked at Fanny’s Farm Shop near Redhill.