Location - Wiston, nr, Biggar, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Date: 25th - 27th June 2010...
...although the journey to Solas began for me personally early 2009, with an invitation from the Solas Board, and through Greenbelt Festival Table Group, to get involved in a voluntary capacity.
So I jumped in, and have been assisting the online presence the festival has, through delivering Newsletters to Solas subscribers, updating the main (basic) website with content, and having a great time making the Solas Blog try to reflect what has been going on in the build up to this years event...
First steps though were attending theProject event that happened in Edinburgh last Summer, and from then on to a big planning meet up at the Solas site back in December 2009.
At that meet up we all had a chance to walk around the Wiston location, and straight away got a sense that this could be a great place for a festival - but what about the weather? At the time the whole place was covered in a deep hard frost, very picturesque indeed - but a brand new outdoor event in its' infancy is almost wholly dependant on any measure of success on good weather.
Well, as it turned out the area got its best spell of fine, sunny and ideal weather since the early 70's which meant that could not be used as an excuse for any lack of success......
It looks fantastic. The location is more than stunning. It is breathtaking. Like an artists impression of what a festival could look like come to life. Beats and guitar jangles coming out of the marquee tents and a few people just hanging out - I took a few snapshots with the intention of getting a quick blog up to try and encourage the undecided to come along on the Saturday & Sunday.
Another job I have done for Greenbelt Festival is to record the speakers' talks and seminars, so I offered to try and to do the same at Solas, as they had a very strong Speaker line-up for the weekend. It would have to be a bit of a hitty-missy affair as I was on my own with 3 MP3 recorders, and half a dozen venues to cover, but think I managed to grab some decent content, which should make an appearance on the Solas and Greenbelt websites soon (even though 1 of the machines decided to go wonky right from the outset....ah technology...)
It was great to spend little frequent passing moments with the Folk who I have been in constant email correspondence with over the past few months - Frankie from the office, Dot, Steve, Doug, Ros, Scott, Graeme et al from the Solas Steering Group, and even managed to grab a coffee and good chat with Greenbelt Festival Chair of Trustees, Andy T, who was enjoying the weekend and vibe with his family. It was very encouraging to hear from him that Greenbelt was behind Solas 100 per cent, and we agreed that the link between the 2 needs to be really highlighted and that greenbelters should be made aware that they now have a baby sister in Scotland. She is a bonny wee lassie, named Solas, and whilst has her own definite Scottish identity and content and reflection of the culture where she was conceived, it must be also underlined that the two are indeed, family -- connected, and that sibling relationship hopefully will grow and help each other over the coming years to grow - evolve even.
Indeed the whole vibe and feel of the site reminded me of Greenbelt of years gone by - in some ways a return to Greenbelts' roots. New, yet mindful of roots. Messy, in a good way. Feelings of initially wondering what is this gonna pan out to be, are people just expecting it to be like greenbelt, and in that instead of getting on and making it something of its own value, just sit back and expect things just to be like they are at greenbelt? Well that feeling disappeared like the early mornig dew around the banks of the Clyde Valley as things started to kick in on the Saturday - events began, people studying the Daily Diary, little queues started to form around marquees and the dream that up until now has existed only in hearts and minds, and on paper and post-it notes suddenly became very real indeed.
Solas Festival was now on the map. Real. In existance. Breathing.
Part 2 of my review to follow - in the meantime check out the Solas Blog, for links to images and other reviews of the Solas weekend.