Meadows Festival set to kick off

The crowds soak up the atmosphere at the festival. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The crowds soak up the atmosphere at the festival. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE stages are set, volunteers are at the ready, performers are in place – all that is needed now is some sunshine.

Fingers remain crossed for that, yet even though a mixed bag of weather is forecast this weekend it is unlikely much will dampen the spirits of the 16,000 revellers expected at this year’s Meadows Festival.

In fact, with the two-day community-led event now in its 40th year, some summer weather will simply be the icing on the cake for what is tipped to be the biggest and best yet.

“It’s one of those dates that’s in everyone’s diaries because it has such a great vibe,” says Drew Murphy, 30, festival convenor.

“Last year was pretty special, which was mostly down to the weather, but the festival has been happening since 1974 so it’s got a great reputation in the local community.

Starting at 10am today, the west side of the Meadows will be heaving with activities, including live music being the main attraction across two sites.

The main stage – the Red Dog Music Stage – will have eight bands performing over the weekend, all of them chosen by the public after a month of voting.

They include Victorian Trout Conspiracy, a ten-piece high energy group blending “ska, funk and rock n roll with amazing results” who will be kicking off at 4pm, followed by the headliners, Hector Bizerk, at 5pm.

The duo, compromising drummer Andy and rapper Louie, are currently nominees on the shortlist for the Scottish Album of the Year and are well known for their “experimental, dynamic and hip hop” style.

Tomorrow’s headline act on the Red Dog Music Stage will be The Black Diamond Express, “an outstanding and awesome” eight-piece from Leith featuring cello, fiddle and blues harp whose sound has been described as “an irresistible amalgamation of Celtic and American roots style”.

This year is also a first for youth music at the Meadows with the launch of The Fortune Futures Stage which will be dedicated to bands and performers aged 25 and under to showcase their 
talent.

“Since the stage was announced only a few weeks ago, the response from young musicians has been overwhelming,” says Liz Highet, festival programmer.

“There are very few opportunities for young people from this age group to perform on stage, that’s why so many young people want to get involved.”

Most performers are aged between 12 and 18 and are from Edinburgh or the Lothians. Headliners include Callum Beattie today and Mad Tango followed by Queen NRNXPO tomorrow.

This year will also see another first in that the Forest, a free arts and events project, will be setting up their very own performance area and bar.

But music is not the only focus of the festival, with a children’s football tournament, kids area and dog show – hosted by The Dogs Trust – also adding extra fun to the weekend.

“I’m always amazed how many really glamorous canines turn up, along with hordes of family pets,” says Liz Summerfield, secretary of the Meadows Festival Association. “They all have to compete on the same terms though, so a pedigree is never an advantage over sheer canine cunning and guile.”

The Trust provides advice on health, care and training at the festival, free 
microchipping – which usually costs about £20 – and information about rehoming pets. Some of the prizes up for grabs in the show include Most Handsome Dog, a Scoff the Sausage Race and Perkiest Pup.

There will also be more than 100 stalls for revellers to browse as well as a visit from the police who will be dropping in with their squad car.

The focus of this year’s festival – as has been for 40 years – is the surrounding Meadows community, with organisers working with groups such as the South Central Neighbourhood Partnership who will be on hand, along with community councils, to answer any questions residents might have.

Ms Summerfield says organisers are expecting at least 16,000 visitors this weekend, with them – and performers – drawn in by the festival’s rich history.

“Nobody involved gets paid but we are still inundated with people wanting to perform because it has such a reputation,” she says.

The Meadows Festival will run today from 10am to 6pm and again tomorrow from 11am to 6pm. For more information visit www.meadowsfestival.org.