Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

As Glastonbury Rests, Rival Festivals Look to Raise Their Game

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

As Glastonbury Rests, Rival Festivals Look to Raise Their Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Walsh

Never. Glastonbury is immortal," says Alex Trenchard, organiser of the Standon Calling festival, in an amused response to Michael Eavis's gloomy prediction that the Worthy Farm extravaganza is "on the way out". The Glastonbury founder's prediction that his baby has "three or four years" before extinction hasn't been taken too seriously, but it'll be fascinating to see how much the other festivals can up their game in Glastonbury's absence (the granddaddy of music festivals is taking 2012 off, ceding to the Olympic Games which is eating up most of the country's resources, most crucially the Portaloos). The signs are looking very positive indeed.

Glastonbury has always excelled on the "extras" - theatre groups, surreal happenings, puppetry, magicians, fancy dress - and this is something that the ambitious, family-friendly Latitude Festival, now in its seventh year, and the innovative (but also family-friendly) Standon Calling, which takes place from 3-5 August, are trying desperately to replicate. Latitude, which takes place in Southwold between 12-15 July, will feature a wildly diverse programme that will include world famous concert pianist Lang Lang, comedy from Jack Dee, productions from the National Theatre and Sadler's Wells, plus poetry from Benjamin Zephaniah and Scroobius Pip. This is on top of a giddy music bill that includes Paul Weller, Laura Marling and Janelle Monae.

Hertfordshire's Standon Calling intends to match Latitude, offering as it does a wealth of "unique experiences" including interactive theatre curated by the Heritage Arts Company, sculpture classes, a literary lounge, a "silly Olympics", tree aerialists, a dog show and even a "beatbox workshop".

"Standon isn't just about the music. It's about the arts and theatre programming too," emphasises Trenchard. "Our audience want an escape, even more so now that times are tough. I think those festivals that offer an interesting line-up as well as a unique experience will continue to do well."

However, will there be much of an audience for this no doubt impressively staged event? "We have seen real upswing in ticket sales this year and are currently running at about 30% up on last year's start, which was a good start," says Trenchard.

"Both tiers of early bird tickets sold out in record quick time."

Simon Taffe, organiser for the End of the Road, echoes this sentiment pointing out that he's "100 per cent" confident his quirky, independent festival will be profitable, before adding "it will sell out. It has sold out for the last four years and is well ahead of last year."

It's not a surprise as End of the Road, winner of the Best Small Festival Award last year, is one of the loveliest music events of the year, nestled as it is deep within Larmer Tree Gardens, home to roaming peacocks and exotic birds. …

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