At the time of writing this piece we are a couple of weeks away from the start of Festival Too, the annual musical extravaganza that takes place in the Tuesday Market Place every year – and has done since 1985.
This week’s column is a straightforward piece in praise of the event. When it was conceived more than 30 years ago, the business people who backed it cobbled together £5,000 to run an event for the people of King’s Lynn to attend for free.
The budget to run Festival Too now sits at £80,000 and those businesses have been joined by private individuals, national companies, the local council and donations made by the public. But it still costs festival goers not a penny. This is compared to the other music events around the country which have gone from small laid back festivals to huge, corporate-run mega-events. To go along to most music festivals in the UK, you are looking at paying a small fortune – Glastonbury, the grandfather of all music festivals now costs a cool £200 plus.
And yet, most of the founders of the music festivals will say they first came up with the idea because of their love of music. The idea was to give people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to experience something special – a selection of artists performing to an appreciative crowd of music lovers.
What has happened instead is that the major music festivals – Glastonbury, Latitude, V, – have all become major calendar events that people ‘must’ go to. They sit alongside Henley Regatta, Ascot and Wimbledon as social occasions to be seen at.
For me, the people who truly love music are the ones who are totally absorbed, swaying, gyrating and moving to the rhythm and sounds that are being created by the talent on stage. The large, expensive music festivals have priced many true music lovers out of the market, so I salute Festival Too for resisting the commercialisation of the music industry and giving the people of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk the chance to let their hair down and party.