Lowther Deer Park, Lake District – 29th July 2018
It’s not a UK festival without the mud, and Kendal Calling doesn’t disappoint as its last day sees a break from the recent heatwave. After a trek through tents and quicksand, Peter Hook & The Light make it all worth it with a collection of Joy Division and New Order classics blasting live from main stage. It’s an emotionally charged start to our day, and we can’t wait to stamp our wellies across the endless fields of Lowther Deer Park, in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District.
We incredibly miss out on a secret unplugged session from the mighty Libertines at the intimate Tim Peaks stage – we’re still crying our eyes out on that one – but we get to discover Bang Bang Romeo at the Calling Out Tent. Ballsy and alluring, lead singer Anastasia Walker owns stage and crowd promising a bright future for the Sheffield outfit.
More classics but a complete change of atmosphere as we head back to Main Stage to chill with the Wailers. Bob Marley is here in spirit as the notes of Buffalo Soldier grace the sky making it all a bit less grey. A great time to explore more of what’s available at Kendal Calling today.
Looking around at the crowd, it’s pleasant and surprising how much of a family gathering this really is: few generations play together gleefully, share beer and street food in harmony, jump in the puddles shaking their ponchos to the tunes on offer. As we wander, our attention is caught by
a tempting ‘Lost Eden’ sign. The path that follows is rich of welcome surprises, more proof of how KC really is a festival for everyone.
We make our way through the woodlands and discover a plethora of artistic displays, light installations, walking performances… An unexpected Wonderland to stimulate all senses, and a couple of very diverse stages to satisfy every Alice’s musical needs. Right at the bottom of the rabbit hole we hit the Woodlands stage on time for indie rockers Mint, and what a pleasant discovery that is. Lets be honest, we were first attracted to the bassist’s ‘Theresa is a Terrorist’ handcrafted t-shirt, but their performance got us like quicksand, unable to move until they ran out of tunes and we ran out of beer.
On the way back it all turns to mambo at the very international and colourful Carvetti stage, and despite my clumsy attempt to a few zumba moves in the mud I manage to stay up; chuffed with such an unexpected achievement. My young partner in crime swiftly drags me away from July Julay & The Mambo Kings to make sure I don’t miss the headliners. Why do I always find these things when it’s time to go…?
It’s the festival of miracles: not only the two clumsiest ever women you’ll ever meet are still standing in this wet slippery mess, but The Libertines come on stage EARLY! You read that right. We rush to main stage and the iconic four-piece does not disappoint. Everyone is in great form, the chemistry on stage is tangible, Carlos on piano is soooo romantic with Peter singing ‘You’re My Waterloo’ like a siren to mesmerised sailors, and when the notes of ‘Don’t Look Back Into the Sun’ break in the air Lowther Deer Park is an ocean of happy souls in one big wave of excitement.
Every time I go to a festival, the issue is always the same: knowing it’s impossible not to miss anything, how do I get out of here having seen and lived more than just another gig? With Kendal Calling that’s not an issue. The diversity of the sounds, spaces and crowds make it an unforgettable experience, however much time you want to spend running across the fields. It was unfortunate that we could only make it to the closing day this year but we’re already looking forward to 2019 for the full thing, including the yoga and pilates sessions at Garden of Eden to recharge in between. And no one, I repeat, no one is gonna drag me away from the mambo stage this time.