Fantastic Free Festival

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And so that was the Colchester Free Festival, 2015.

Bigger, brighter and extended to cover two days of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Bloody brilliant, wasn’t it?

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The fallow year in Castle Park for 2014 seems to have been a price worth paying.

Sure, we missed the Free Festival last summer. But the volunteer team needed time away to re-group and re-think.

The outcome was a two day festival for 2015, stretching out across Castle Park, and no return of the downpour that came to define 2013.

Saturday was a wash out for The Chronic though. Not in terms of the weather, but the Bank Holiday family thing meant that we couldn’t make it Castle Park.

No worries.

We managed to catch up with many folk on Sunday afternoon who told us many tales of their Saturday afternoon and evening Colchester Free Festival experience.

Whaddya mean David Bowie didn’t actually headline?

And so on Sunday afternoon, we walked from North Station and towards Castle Park. The bass was just starting to liven up the North Station Road run of shops.

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What we found when we entered the festival site was The Kubricks skanking up the Main Stage.

We’ll have a bit of that.

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Forget the pre-planned mission to capture the Free Festival for blog action later. If you can’t skank to Big Monkey Man on a Sunday afternoon then it’s just being ruuude. boi.

Aye.

Rod and the Faces then came over the Castle Park PA. This was the perfect soundtrack for a brief wander around the Lower festival site.

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What soon became clear was the attention to detail and planning. You need decent nosh at festival. All tastes were more or less catered for.

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Plus don’t forget the BOOZE tent, put on with a little help from the good folk of Colchester CAMRA.

But this was no afternoon piss up in the park.

And thank the chuffers for that.

Something else that the volunteer team have worked hard on this year is to keep the family feel as the Festival continues to grow.

If you wanted some Colchester Pale Ale then fine.

But if watching the old school take on the nu school in b-boy battles was more of your thing, then best get your skinny backside up to the old Bandstand.

This was bloody brilliant.

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Billed as a Waiting Room takeover for the afternoon, the breakin’ one-on-ones were incredibly popular.

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It was great to see the more experienced b-boys of Sunny Colch come up against quite a challenge from some primary school kids.

The Chronic was once again keen to ditch the camera and walk it like we talk it on the lino floor.

“Don’t be a prat”

…said Mr Chronic.

Um, aye, etc.

The feet kept-a-moving though, past the cycle park and the good folk of Wivenhoe Bike Kitchen, a quick stop for the uplifting Funky Voices, and then all the way over to the Hollytrees Stage.

We had heard wild tales of grime Vs indie battles the day before.

But Sunday afternoon in front of the grand old Hollytrees house was most definitely metal afternoon, and all the many, many variations.

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It’s not quite The Chronic’s tunes of choice, but it looked rather lively, all the same.

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Meanwhile you know what you are getting with Gunpowder’s Earth Tribal Family Stage.

We think?

This was an ACE family field set up behind the Castle Park Cafe. The emphasis was very much on letting the little ankle biters run a friendly, supervised riot, whilst the adults got to play out their childhood dreams once again.

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We got a little over-excited banging out the beats on an old oil drum as the unknown puppet danced along. We’re not entirely sure who was pulling the strings, but it was superb fun, all the same.

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Over in the Castle Bailey and Tankton was still taking place, probably without any sleep in the past 24 hours.

We had heard how the Tankton by Night evening party was somehow pulled off by Johnny Buffalo the night before, despite the Sunny Colch weather deciding to play silly buggers for once.

All 1,000 tickets were sold, helping to add to the coffers to cover the cost that it takes to stage the festival.

It may be called the FREE Festival, but staging two days of fun in a park doesn’t actually come for free…

Time was tight and we had so much more that we wanted to see and do.

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A sideways walk over to the old bowling green and the Spoken Word space was offering an incredibly relaxed Sunday afternoon feel for the Free Festival.

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And then it was back to the Main Stage to catch the close of the energetic set by Killatrix.

Capturing a snapshot of the Colchester Free Festival is pretty hit and miss when you consider the amazing feat of two days of local talent being celebrated in Castle Park.

Our snaps and random words fail badly to try and capture all that was achieved at Castle Park over the Bank Holiday weekend.

For all the artistic achievements, perhaps the biggest achievement is the proof that you don’t need to leave our town if you want to experience a first class festival – and all for free (ish) as well.

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Andy, Marc and the many, many other volunteers from the Free Festival team have to be thanked hugely for what they have worked towards over the past three months or so.

It’s always going to be hard to try and repeat the highs of 2015. But we’ve already got the 2016 Bank Holiday weekend ring-fenced in our diary.

If you’re reading this post via Facebook, you may want to head over to our main blog for all of the multi-media nonsense that Facebook doesn’t like embed…

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