What’s new at Greenbelt 06?
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Date: August, 2006
Lev Eakins is glad to be back at Greenbelt
Greenbelt this year is tangibly bigger with about 16,500 tickets sold before the event, 2,000 sold on the first day and 21,000 Greenbelters expected on site.
Muscling through the crowds is more of an effort, and the sheer quantity of the normal, the surreal and just plain odd are massively in attendance for all to appreciate.
'Families' are up this year – they’re everywhere. The pressure to breed and bring your offspring to this amazing festival must be spreading with what seems like 50% of the population bringing descendants with them.
The effect is pleasant as the kids seem well behaved, and do add well to the incredible atmosphere. Un-coincidentally the efforts to entertain and engage with the next generation are even bigger and better, and certainly do no harm to GB’s excellent family friendly reputation.
Physically the festival has spread, like the benevolent virus it is, further into the racecourse with the Organic Beer tent better placed in the larger sub-festival area between the campsite and the main buildings.
Thankfully the beer tent, with extended hours and drink menu, wasn’t a one off last year, and is quickly establishing itself as a much needed rival to the Winged-Ox.
A new main stage has been built outside and well positioned; dragging the primary music venue out of the claustrophobic surroundings it had always strained against.
Although we can now enjoy the line-up outside for the first time since 1999, if you do need to get under canvass the bigger and better Christian Aid Performance Café now houses plenty of raw talent in intimate surroundings in a massive tent.
A big surprise this year has been the introduction of GB’s secondary sponsor, Her Majesty’s Government no less, in the form of the Department for International Development.
Someone in Whitehall must be well briefed as DfID has thrown herself into the festival by hosting discussion panels, running a sizable stand in Pulse, plastering her logos all over the programme and website and generally getting stuck into the spirit of things.
GB certainly seems pleased with their newest and most influential friend, and so they should be. Normally pressure groups have to go to the mountain; rarely does it come to you and even less often will it come to the party and splash out so much dosh and get so vigorously involved. Nice catch GB!
The Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, has broken his GB virginity this year, and it seems he rather enjoyed the experience, speaking warm words about the festival on the opening night. And so he should!
GB06 looks and feels fab, with a satisfyingly large attendance and an addictive atmosphere swirling amongst the many new faces, stands, tents and sounds. GB’s reputation as the best arts festival remains stonkingly solid!