Top tribute bands and family fun at Holywells Park, Ipswich, this weekend with The Nearly Festival

Paying tribute to Bob Marley

Paying tribute to Bob Marley - Credit: Archant

Some of the best tribute acts across the land descend on Ipswich’s Holywells Park this weekend. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage spoke to organiser Danny Banthorpe.

Paying tribute to Oasis

Paying tribute to Oasis - Credit: Archant

If you can’t afford to go to a festival, can’t get a baby sitter, can’t get the time off work or don’t fancy camping then this is the event for you says Banthorpe.

“It’s nearly a festival with nearly the real bands,” he laughs.

The two-day event takes place today and Sunday at Ipswich’s Holywells Park. It’s an extension of their popular garden parties at Gibraltar Gardens and Lenwade House in Norfolk which regularly attract 500-600 people.

“The concept is to have a really fun family event. The kids can keep active and have things to do and the parents, rather than just bringing their kids and sitting there doing nothing, havet something to do as well.

UB40 tribute

UB40 tribute - Credit: Archant

Kidzone will feature Arnie’s Attic mascots, balloon modelling, Just Jay Dance, magic from Steff and Nonsense, sumo suits, bungee run, bouncy castle, lazer tag, 3d rollercoaster ride rodeo bull, dance sessions, storytelling and more.

“Miriam Spall has been fantastic, working through the clock, curating the stage, getting all the local organisations together. There’ll be loads of inflatable fun, activities. We’ve got water Zorb balls, climbing walls, trampolines... The main thing is we’ve got a kid’s stage so on each hour, roughly, we’re going to have a different act like a Zumba class for kids, we’re doing Shrek and Frozen sing-alongs.

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“The kids can sit and watch the stage, have a bit of fun. Equally adults can just come and enjoy the music.”

There will be tributes to Bob Marley, UB40, Sam Smith, Olly Murs, Oasis, Madness, The Specials, The Killers, Paul Weller, Stone Roses, Adele plus music from Ska’d 4 Life and Reggae by Homegrown. The first band takes the stage at 1pm both days.

Special Kinda Madness

Special Kinda Madness - Credit: Archant

“We definitely wanted the ska and reggae feel on one day so Bob Marley, UB40 and Ska’d 4 Life go hand in hand. The Saturday afternoon session will be very family orientated - the mums will love a bit of Sam Smith and Olly Murrs as well as the kids. The Marley act is a full eight-piece band, two backing singers, bass guitar, it’s full on. Paul Weller’s a full band.”

The reason for chooising tribute acts rather than local bands is simple says Banthorpe.

“You know the songs, you know the words. You can sing along, relive your childhood, the concerts you’ve been to; have a bit of fun with it. Some of the actual acts have passed away, some have broken up so you’re not going to hear them ever again.

“You just can’t go wrong with Oasis, everyone knows the words to the chorus at least. Madness is almost like the sing-along party vibe. We’ve done a poll on which bands people were looks forward to the most, surprisingly UB40 smashed it; I thought Bob Marley and Oasis would be the top two. We’ve also set up a poll for what they want to see next year and winning at the moment are Queen and Coldplay.”

Banthorpe and organisers have come under fire for not allowing people to bring their own food and drink. The reason is two-fold he says.

“It’s partly financial, the revenue helps us pay for the infrastructure. We’re a commercial business, not a council run event. If we have no control about what alcohol comes into the site we could have underage drinking, over-drinking and the nuisance that comes with it. We want a safe family fun controlled environment and we’re allowing kids to bring in water and soft drinks in bottles with unbroken seals.

“The next factor is the waste management. We’re getting quotes from the companies for the bins, the skips, it’s very expensive. If we had 2,000 people bringing their own food we’d have to pay to put all that waste away. So, to keep our ticket prices as cheap as they are we have to run with this policy. We don’t charge extortionate pitch fees so the vendors can keep their prices down and we’ve hand picked them to make sure it’s quality, local stuff.”

Holywells Park, he adds, is the perfect auditorium. People can walk to it and organisers are trying to be ambassadors of green travel, sending festival-goers bus routes, train times, encouraging them to grab a taxi, lift share, where they can and can’t park if they don’t drive.

“From the residents’ point of view we’re doing everything we can to get that information across to our customers. I’m Ipswich born and bred and started doing the Pam’s House events back in the day so I’m passionate about getting this town buzzing again. It’s my home town so I’m going to do what I can to get it going.”

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