Local & Live soaks up the sunshine as biggest free music festival lives up to its billing

The main stage in Calverley Grounds - picture Sally-Anne Lowe

Local & Live soaks up the sunshine as biggest free music festival lives up to its billing

28th August 2019

What a Bank Holiday weekend! Great music, plenty of food and drink plus temperatures hitting 90F [32C] all helped to make it a memorable Local & Live festival.

The town’s biggest free music event lived up to its billing with more than 100 acts attracting some 20,000 people across six sites from the Friday evening to late Monday night.

Entertaining the crowds at Calverley Grounds - picture Nigel Martin Photography

The venues were Calverley Grounds, The Forum, The Bedford, Cassidy’s, The Royal Oak and Spa Hotel.

Food choices over the weekend ranged from Indian to Thai to vegan and everything in between with beer tents and bars nearby to quench the thirst.

It was all so different to last year when heavy rain almost made the festival a washout.

Street Scene - picture Lauren Gray

Organiser Paul Dunton said: “This time round we had four days of glorious weather along with some fantastic local bands that helped make it the best so far.

“It was good to be back in Calverley Grounds, which is perfect for us, and we intend to keep the festival going.”

This year was the 14th staging of the festival and the first time Local & Live operated under charity status.

“Being a registered charity definitely made a difference this time round,” said Mr Dunton. “It made it more appealing for businesses to get involved and we were also able to apply for grants.”

Face Painting - picture Lauren Gray

The festival costs about £50,000 to stage with the bulk of the money being spent on staging, PA systems, security and marshals plus insurance.

The festival is designed to ‘showcase the leading original soloists and bands from the local area’. All the acts were invited to play and charged no fee, although some made money from royalties and selling their CDs.

The four-day free festival was made possible with help from the Borough Council and Tunbridge Wells Together who between them donated £6,650. Local businesses also played a big part, particularly A H Partnership, Helios Homeopathy, Berkeley Homes and DJM Music.

The media sponsor was Times Local Newspapers.

Aloha - picture Nigel Martin Photography


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  • 30th Aug 19 at 10:57 by Rock Chick

    Brilliant festival as always. Brings a great sense of community to Tunbridge Wells. It showcases the amazing local talent we have. Paul Dunton puts so much hard work into organising these festivals - without him it simply wouldn't happen. Well done everyone who was involved, from the sponsors, local caterers, musicians, sound techies and Local n Live Angels.