Summer hits high note with return of live music festival

WINNING LINE-UP: The 2018 competition
PARK LIFE: Local & Live sees thousands visit Calverley Grounds

The three-day music festival, which is free and was launched 16 years ago, had to be cancelled last year and replaced by an online event because of the pandemic.

The festival can attract up to 20,000 visitors to the town from across the UK and as far afield as Europe for a long weekend of music, food, fun and entertainment.

The news comes hot on the heels of the announcement in the Times last month that a new two-week festival, TW Fringe, is being planned for July. The event is to bring opera, cabaret, comedy, dance, theatre, film and visual art to the town.

Local & Live organisers told the Times they are ‘confident’ the music festival will return at the end of August this year.

“We have booked three days in Calverley Grounds,” said Local & Live founder Paul Dunton. 

“We plan to open on Friday evening [August 28] on the main stage at Calverley Grounds and do all day Saturday and Sunday in the park.

“We’ll announce the headliners in due course, but visitors can expect more than 100 acts over three days.

“It will be all about local businesses and local musicians, and we believe this will be a shot in the arm the town needs after being numb for so long,” he added.

Some of the local bands scheduled to appear this year include the likes of Suncharmer, David Migden & The Twisted Roots, The Steffan James Band, Tom Williams, Cyrano, The Breretons, Alana Hazzard, Harry Whitty, Alex Beharrell, Dull Knife, Steve Hewitt, Zoe Nicol, Hannah Richards and many more. 

The festival, along with many other outdoor events, including the independent music festival Unfest put on by The Forum, had to become an online event last year due to the pandemic.

But in normal times, Local & Live attracts around 4,000 people on its opening night in most years, and around 6,000 people visit the town for the festival on both Saturday and Sunday.

Local restaurants and pubs will get involved providing food or indoor live performance venues. Depending on the latest Covid guidance, they will include The Forum, The Bedford, Cassidy’s, The Royal Oak and The Spa Hotel.

“We are hoping we can also do indoor performances in the venues around the town, but that will depend on the government guidance at the time,” Paul Dunton said.

“Of course, we are following closely any guidance and instructions from government and will come up with contingencies to accommodate any changes. If live music is banned, then we’ll do an online festival again.”

Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark was among those that welcomed the news of the festival’s return.

He said: “One of the highlights of the Tunbridge Wells year is the Local & Live Festival.

“It is terrific news that it is going ahead, and like so many I can’t wait to be there to enjoy it.”

And Jason Dormon, co-founder of Tunbridge Wells’ acclaimed music venue, The Forum, added: “It is so fantastic that the local music community can come together and celebrate this town’s rich musical culture for Local & Live this year.”

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