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Smile, it's Festival Season!

Laura Haddow contemplates the delights of festival season...

Sat in the grounds of Wiston House this weekend, whilst drinking a non alcoholic Pimms , lazing in the remainder of the afternoon sun and watching the wonderful Phil Wickham take the main stage, it suddenly occurred to me that hoorah (!) festival season is once again upon us.

 

Yes, time to delve into the back of the shed and pull out the tent that you packed away post Soul Survivor 2011 (still complete with Shepton Mallet mud), dust off your wellies and purchase a new bottle of suntan lotion (she says optimistically).

 For those of you at Big Church Day Out this last weekend, I hope that like me, you had a great time. Despite torrential rainfall Saturday night resulting in a few abandoned tents and soggy campers, the weather held out brilliantly and I even returned home a little sunburnt.

 There’s something uniquely fantastic about BCDO isn’t there? As I looked around at the crowd gathered in front of the main stage it struck me again just how special this event is. Christians from every sphere of the UK Church chilling out together, old people, young people, individuals through to large church groups, worshipping God together in a West Sussex field and eating Higgidy Pie (as we know every good Christian gathering has quality quiche).

 If you’ve never made it to the event before I thoroughly recommend you give it a go. Not only does BCDO kick off the festival season, it also continually features one of the best line-ups of the Summer. If you book early to catch the early bird discount, camping is free (although pretty basic) and it could a great alternative weekend away for your youth group.

 On that note however be warned, as with all summer festivals prepare yourself for the obligatory over priced food stands, there wasn’t much available under a fiver which was a disappointment and may be another concern in taking away your group.

Kicked off by the wonderful Lou Fellingham and Phatfish, highlights for me included Youthwork Summit house band- Rend Collective, rocking up the main stage (especially performances of Desert Soul and Ceilidh inspiring Build your Kingdom here), Guvna B on the UCB stage (how great is he?!), Leeland’s breathtaking performance of ‘I wonder’ and pretty much Phil Wickham’s entire set, especially ‘You’re Beautiful’ and ‘Cannons’.

 I was able to briefly catch up with the Rend guys as they gave a short press conference in one of the amazing rooms in Wiston House to find out what their summer was looking like, and where we could catch them over the next few months.

 As it turns out the band are pretty much playing at every major UK Christian event this summer, through from all three weeks of Soul Survivor, Momentum, Greenbelt and Creationfest, so you are very likely to catch them whatever you have planned this year. They were also keen for me to mention an event they are involved with towards the end of the year called the Big Church Night in, where they will be touring the UK with Matt Redman (visit website for more details).

 As the sun began to set and just as the weather began to turn on us, Israel Houghton and New Breed took to stage joined by the incredible Michael Gungor. Israel yet again became one of my favourite performances of the entire event and the crowd broke out into dancing despite the pouring train. Tim Hughes and Worship Central headlined the Saturday which made for a great end to the day, and as the night drew to a close the iconic giant cross on the hill above the event was lit, beaming down over Wiston House out of the darkness of the South Downs to mark the close of the first day (I can’t help but wonder what the locals make of it?!)

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