Little Goes a Long Way: Kendal Calling proves that big isn’t always better

Festival Season is upon us, and while the Big Guys like T in the Park, Reading, and Leeds are busy swamping the scene with their high prices and massive crowds, its worth taking look North to a smaller celebration of music and art. Think less cattle-herding between stages, more free-roaming wildlife; less queuing for overpriced Tuborg, more real ale from the hands of the bearded men who make it; less wandering lost amongst leering strangers, more befriending everyone you meet. With so much love to give, Kendall Calling offers festival-goers a breath of fresh Cumbrian air.

Music-lovers have flocked to the deer dappled fields of the Lake District and frolicked in the friendly atmosphere, fantastic music and delicious nosh of Kendal Calling for the past six years. At nearly ten times its initial capacity, the festival has grown into a three-day wonderland involving sixteen unique stages, all bringing a different piece of the magical puzzle to the table. There’s the House Party tent, complete with biscuits and beds to jump on; the Garden of Eden, where you can treat yourself to a massage or simply recover from the night before in the tranquil beauty of the Lake District; and the Ladybird children’s area, giving out free story-telling, mask making and music workshops to the wee-est attendees.

For those looking for more than a cup of Ribena, the Real Ale festival-within-a-festival will be offering a plethora of artisan brews including two of Kendal Calling’s own tipples- ‘Kendale’ and ‘Oh Deer’. After you’ve grabbed some grub to go with your bevvy from one of the eight types of world cuisine on offer, be sure and follow the sound of music to one of the many stellar acts lined up for this year.

Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park and The View will be storming the Main Stage, among others, while the mind-blowing beats of Benga and Shy FX will be grooving in the Glow Dance Tent. The sweet strumming of folk darling Lucy Rose and the heart melting-words of Benjamin Francis Leftwich will be floating out of Chai Wallah’s, with stacks of other incredible performances scattered throughout the stunning site, including midnight shows at the fairy-tale-esque Woodlands stage and the promise of some extra-special impromptu sets.

This is not the first year that Kendal Calling has attracted such a killer lineup; the likes of Blondie, the Cribs, and Chase and Status are just a handful of the big names who have headlined, yet local musicians and new acts have always been a welcome feature to the open minds of Kendal Callers. Despite its growth and attraction of music legends, the festival has somehow managed to retain a brilliant sense of community and kept chilled-out smiles on the faces of punters, staff, and artists alike. And in the unlikely event that your smile should ever start to fade, the Soap Box tent has everything from comedy acts to slam poetry and salsa dancing to keep you grinning.

Back in ’06, music-lovers and all around bringers-of-joy Ben Robinson and Andy Smith first birthed Kendal Calling as a two-day music event for nine-hundred people. Two venue changes, some well-deserved awards, and an exponential growth in fun-seeking punters later, it is now held in Lowther Deer Park (a former wildlife theme park) and this year will see over eight-thousand happy campers enjoying music, booze, and the ‘much, much more’ which sets Kendal apart from the Gigantuars.

The festival has sold out the past six years running, so if you haven’t already nabbed a ticket, get on ebay and start bidding! If you’re out of luck this year, then look forward to 2012, when KC is considering expanding its capacity to a maximum of 15,000. Founder Ben says they doubt it will go beyond this number however, as they wouldn’t want to lose community spirit which makes it such a special event. So, for the most fun you can have in a field, answer the call and be one of the lucky few to experience the best small festival in the UK!

Words by: Tess Hokin

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