Finally, the sun is shining, and in these credit crunch times I’m looking forward to some fantastic free festivals over the coming months. In my mind, festivals are what make the British summer – plastic cups of warm cider, the intoxicating smell of frying onions, floppy burgers and the holy trinity of wellies, cagoule and sunburn. And rather than heading for the bright lights (and inevitable mudfest) of Glastonbury or Reading, there’s something wonderfully homespun about the assortment of local community festivals which spring up each year. As a Leeds University veteran, the city’s annual Hyde Park shindig, Unity Day, holds a special place in my heart.
Leeds’ Hyde Park area is typical of an eclectic city community, with an ethnic mix jumbled up among the constant flux of arriving and departing students, and Unity Day aims to draw this varied community together in a safe environment where everyone can have a good time. That’s my favourite part of the whole experience – the mingling of different groups, seeing children run between their parent’s legs, while student revellers boogie away to bongo drums and dubstep. There are always some great creative types, a graffiti jam, local stalls, delicious food (I’m sure anyone whose enjoyed a festival over the past few years would know that the soggy burgers mentioned above are really a distant memory) and a chance for local acts to let their neighbours know what they’ve been up to. I can’t wait to spend the day lazing on the grass, and wandering between jazz, tea dances, drum and bass, and alternative performers and I’d like to hear of any other community festivals that have earned a special place in your hearts over the years? Or is anyone else a Unity Day regular?
Bring on the summer!
Image credit: Roland Seaton