It’s a short dash up the A6 and you find yourself in the historical capital of the region, Lancaster. It’s the place I spent my student years, a place where some good friends live and the home one of the most amazing city music festivals around.
Lancaster Music Festival 2021 was the 11th edition of one of the UK’s largest urban music festivals. Where music lovers can lend their ears to sounds in historic venues, the streets, the squares and what feels like every bar possible. The festival boasts over 30 venues with more than 300 performances from 200 plus artists and almost all of them free.
The festival this year ran from 14th to 17th October and it’s the perfect festival to catch up with friends, catch some great music, to drop in for a day or two, or just attend the evening sessions. I headed north on the Saturday and after lunch I met with friends in Sun Square catching some of the community talent of More Music.
We then took the short walk to the castle. Lancaster Castle until rather recently was still a working prison and step by step the castle courtyard begins to find its place and secure its new future in Lancaster. It is no stranger to hosting music events, film nights and much more and now with the restoration and redevelopment work is such a great spot to capture a range of cultural delights. If you have not been for a while or at all, get it on your list.
We arrived to some thumping ska belting out across the courtyard from the Melodrome by Peloton. They were followed by Lancaster’s very own Balkan stalwarts The Balkanics, with both traditional and alternative take on Balkan folk music. Being a world music lover myself it was already starting to be a great international flavoured afternoon.
Our next stop like a magical musical heritage tour was Lancaster Priory to catch the Bollywood Pandits. It was surreal but amazing experience to catch a range of Indian folk, Bollywood classics and Bhangra filling every corner of the priory.
We had time to catch one last performer before we all headed our separate ways. Again it was international, in the priory and didn’t disappoint. Siqian Li is a classical Chinese pianist, and she performed beautiful piano interpretations of traditional folk from Yunnan and other Chinese regions. Her second half performance offered more traditional classical selections like Debussy and Ravel. People were mesmerised by her fingers and hands as they danced across the piano and the music fluttered around the priory, caressing the stained glass windows and warming the listeners from the gentle chill that breezed the open doors.
Of course I only captured one small part of the festival but walking around the city and hearing the noise and bustle in every bar was a treat for the eyes and ears. I am already looking forward to next year’s offerings, and if you are a music lover and looking to catch some great music get in your diary for next year. There really is something for everyone and it’s only up the road.
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