A festival that seemed sunk by bad weather and angry audiences has now confirmed that the show will go on – and there’s a whole new wave of optimism about plans for next time.
Northern Kin Festival struggled with delays and mud during its April 28-30 run in County Durham, which saw campervans having to be towed off-site by tractors, and following a barrage of complaints from festival-goers, organisers were left questioning whether it had a future. But, following a heartfelt explanation from Alex Hutchinson, who runs it, many have rallied to his support with the result that Northern Kin very definitely will be back in 2024.
In a honest assessment of mistakes made, and knock-on effects that made the situation even worse, Alex had said he was “gutted” by the mud and facilities problems experienced by festival-goers and said he would be taking time out to decide whether a future event was viable. Since then, the festival team has been thoroughly heartened by what, within days, amounted to 3,500 messages, mostly offering support and advice.
A message on Northern Kin’s Facebook page said that while it is tackling complaints and refund requests “what was meant to be independent, objective reflection has turned into barely having a chance to do anything but read supportive messages”. There had already been plenty praise for the music line-up and performances at the festival, which took place in the grounds of Ushaw Historic House and which included headliners Jethro Tull, Levellers and Hawkwind.
Now in follow-up statements on Facebook, it says: “It appears you’re in, and so are we.” And it confirms that the camping festival – an all-inclusive showcase of blues, folk and rock which first took place in in 2018 – will be back next year, from June 14-16, in a new permanent home at Thornley Hall Farm, just east of Durham.
In a note of optimism, it added that its mid-June slot – a return to its “rightful place” – is statistically one of the driest weekends in the calendar. With a long-term plan in place, the aim of the festival is to be as environmentally and eco-focused as possible and plans include planting trees and banning single-use plastics.
The festival team have been listening to feedback and constructive criticism and have come up with a list of 11 ‘commitments’ for future events. These include improvements to infrastructure, such as with hardstanding and roads; better accessibility and water supplies and having extra toilets.
Other commitments include making more opportunities available for independent caters and introducing a wellness zone. The ideas appear to have gone down well with Northern Kin’s Facebook followers whose responses include “Your pledges are amazing”; “This is exactly what I needed to hear to convince me to come back next year” and “Great to see you’ve listened and reacted to what I generally feel has meant to be constructive feedback.”
Another added: “Well done Alex so pleased you didn’t throw in the towel. So much support out there for this brilliant festival.” Northern Kin is planning to release details of its 2024 line-up and tickets soon.
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