Hitchin Priory, set in 19 acres of parkland, was the setting for the music and cultural festivities on what was a warm summer weekend. The festival is all about the local community coming together to celebrate the diverse local and world cultures that form part of the Hitchin society. The festival takes around a week to erect and another week to de-rig. All the stages, marquees and stalls are assembled by volunteers.
The Priory mansion was originally a Carmelite monastery built in 1317 and is used as a conferencing centre throughout the remainder of the year. The acts performing this year included Raghu Dixit
, who headlined on the Saturday, they blended Indian traditional sounds with western influence and also performed at this year's Glastonbury
festival. Ska Cubano, who performed on the Sunday entertained by mixing the ska music genre with the Cuban-salsa style of music. Jim Moray was a folk artist who managed to appeal to the whole crowd despite playing a genre that appeals to a selective audience.
Two-tone ska legends, The Selecter also had the crowds jumping up and down in the afternoon heat. The Priory
grounds were hosting the event for the fourth year running. The event used to be held on the streets are were free to attend. However each year it became bigger and eventually managing the festival became too much of a challenge both in terms of financing the event and keeping order.
This year's festival also featured a new stage for magicians and comedy acts and performances by young people. One act featured seven young disabled people who live locally. Encouraged by professional musician Tom Billington
Clare Sulch, a volunteer 'Music in Your Community' Co-ordinator for Rhythms of the World said:
With Tom's lively style, support and encouragement the group are well on their way to producing a 30 minute set of original material.
Each young person is working with the group to create a song that says something about them. So far the sessions have been great fun and everyone is working really well together. The vibe is upbeat and the songs have a sense of humour about them so I think they will be able to put on a really good show.
There were stages for poets, comics and several fringe acts who performed in the small areas away from the beaten track. In some ways it resembled a mini Glastonbury. Next year's festival dates are already booked for the weekend of 12 & 13 July 2012. Many more images can be found on the festival's Facebook