Summer memories: Greenbelt Festival, August 2019

Chris Little

Greenbelt, like a lot of festivals I guess, is aiming to pose the possibility of something like a revision of the temporal rules by which we live — whereby the inevitability by which one thing follows another appears to be graceful and ordained by oneself, rather than exhausting and regrettable. It doesn’t do a bad job. I spent more time in the car than actually at the festival this year, but that mathematical equation doesn’t trouble me too much in hindsight. If there’s any enlightenment here — any religious shock — then perhaps it’s in the blinding carnal necessity of those things which most human cultures have regarded as the touchstones of existence, but which in our heavily industrialised capitalism are barely within reach: decent food and shelter, communal space, artistic expression, and the diminishment — the intensification — of light by encroaching darkness.

Penny Carnegie

We went to Greenbelt Festival as a family, three generations of us, and there was something of interest for all of us! It was a beautifully hot day. Andrew found shade in the Jesus’s Arms bar refreshing himself with a beer or two and chatting with people. I was very pleased to find that Extinction Rebellion and the anti-fracking movement were making their voices heard. The atmosphere was congenial, and the children felt safe and were entertained. We were only there for one day. Next time it will be for longer. There was so much more that we could have enjoyed.

John Baker

Arriving with a double bass, amplifier and various bits that I couldn’t carry across the site single-handedly meant I had to wait an hour and a half for a golf buggy (with trailer) to come and get me from the entrance. No sooner had I sat down to my waiting than old friends Tom and Shona Shaw and their two kids arrived hot footed from their 19-hour journey from the Hebrides. Suddenly I had an army of roadies. Our buggy arrived, we toppled swiftly on and were driven on by the Greenbelt angels. Unfortunately, they got slightly lost, and we found ourselves in a sheep field but eventually found our way. The last hurdle was a barbed wire fence, which we couldn’t get across other than by jumping and handing things over. With little time to rehearse, we whizzed through the essentials of our hymns and Chris’s superb settings of R. S. Thomas’s words. Things can often go ‘wrong’ with little rehearsal, unfamiliar surroundings, and sheep diversions, but on this night, the service went surprisingly well, at least in terms of our delivery, I felt. It was helped by some little orders of service, which Chris had designed and typeset and I printed at the church. The only unforeseen circumstance of the service was my lack of faith: I had only made 50 orders of service, and we had around 250 people turn up. I can’t think of a better problem to have had.

Nathalia Bell

Greenbelt is a whimsical place where adults have tiger tails and are without inhibition. You make new friends at the drop of a hat through engaging in talks and events on topics as diverse as politics, social justice, philosophy, and contemporary art. Allow some surprises in your life by going to Greenbelt!


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