Cancellation of music festival causes dismay

Mugen Taiko performing at a previous Alnwick International Music Festival.
Mugen Taiko performing at a previous Alnwick International Music Festival.

Gazette readers have reacted with dismay and sadness that this year’s Alnwick International Music Festival has been cancelled.

Last week, we revealed that the eight-day showcase has been axed for 2018, due mainly to a lack of volunteers, particularly with the necessary technical skills to support the busy daytime and evening programme.

The event was due to take place from Saturday, August 4, to Saturday, August 11.

However, organisers have said that they are still committed to supporting Great Northumberland Day, in Alnwick, on Sunday, August 12, which will feature live music, workshops and local food.

They also insist that they are examining all of the options to make a return next year.

Following on from last week’s Gazette story, music festival secretary Dave Wearn said that people had expressed their disappointment that the event isn’t going ahead this year.

He said that the plan is to hold a public meeting in early August – place and date to be confirmed – where everyone would be welcome to offer ideas for a new festival format and to get involved in making it happen.

Nevertheless, the bombshell news that the show won’t go ahead in 2018 – for the first time in the event’s proud four-decade history – has prompted disappointment.

A number of people reacted via our Facebook page, expressing their sadness. Some also said that they wished they had known earlier that the festival was desperate for volunteers.

Angela Fletcher wrote: ‘What a shame. Very sad’, before adding: ‘Perhaps another year, if I didn’t live abroad, I’d step up.’

Meanwhile, Paul Purvis said: ‘Shame, I liked the music festival.’

Mandy Hardy posted: ‘Ah man, so enjoyed this, I wasn’t aware of a shortage of volunteers otherwise I would of used my social media to put a shout out.’

Julie Frost wrote: ‘I imagine this is a very expensive event to organise and while I have no idea of expenditure or indeed income, perhaps this could be an opportunity to refresh something like this – what about a music festival showcasing all local talent?’

The music festival is a much-loved fixture in the town’s calendar, having managed to survive the test of time for so many years, while other traditions, such as the once-popular Alnwick Fair, died a death.

But after hearing the news that this year’s music festival has been cancelled, Jan Louise posted: ‘First the fantastic fair week and now this. Alnwick is slowly falling off the map.’

For all of the event’s international flavour, one of the most popular acts to have performed was Rhythm Stix – a vibrant and heartwarming drumming group based at Alnwick’s Pottergate Centre, which helps and supports adults with learning difficulties.

Posting on our Facebook page, Valerie Beech said: ‘It is a shame. The people from Pottergate Centre played the drums.

‘My sister played, she has learning difficulties and autism. They played great.’

Jane Stewart responded by saying: ‘They are a brilliant group. I love them.’