Time for a Spot of culture in Area of Outstanding Beauty

Last year's Cloudspotting pulled in the crowds and a similarturnout is expected this year.

Last year's Cloudspotting pulled in the crowds and a similarturnout is expected this year.

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Next month, ‘boutique’ festival Cloudspotting marks its fifth birthday with another long weekend of music, arts and more in the beautiful Forest of Bowland, reports BARRY FREEMAN

Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival is planning quite a fifth birthday partyin July, with a sizzling line-up of music, arts and outdoor pursuits.

This long summer weekend retreat deep in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is supported by Arts Council England and the Forestry Commission.

In UK festival terms the three-day festival (July 24-26) is small, but gaining enough of a reputation to merit the description ‘perfectly formed’.

This year, The Guardian newspaper singled it out as one of Britain’s best ‘boutique’ festivals, hailing Cloudspotting as “a classic combination of music, lovely food and drink, family and arts activities in a stunning location”.

Co-promoter Matt Evans was delighted – and surprised.

“It’s nice to be recognised in the national press for what we do, though I’m not sure what qualifies for ‘boutique’ – we were in there with festivals 15 times bigger than us,” he said.

“But the UK festival climate has changed immeasurably. People are looking for a different experience in which they and their friends or family are part of the event and can get more involved.

“Being in the forest is special as it allows us to develop new areas each year. There is room for the audience to grow a little, but without losing the intimacy people cherish. It’s a special atmosphere.”

Cloudspotting’s music line-up spans two outdoor stages and one smaller venue known as ‘The Attic’ which showcases regional singer-songwriters and poetry.

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman

Drawing more on the experimental sounds of BBC 6 than the mainstream, this year some 30 acts will play on the two main stages.

Saturday’s headliners The Earlies are a 10-piece alt. country, folk and progressive rock band, who have recently reformed to release their first new music since 2007.

Other highlights include Sunday night headliners Ezra Furman and The Boyfriends, from Chicago, who recently appeared on Jools Holland’s ‘Later’ and world folk duo The Hut People.

Alongside the music is a full programme of theatre, cinema and a range of creative projects and workshops, and, for the more active, there are mountain bikes for hire – the festival takes place amid some of the UK’s best rated forest bike trails – orienteering and archery.

It’s nice to be recognised in the national press for what we do, though I’m not sure what qualifies for ‘boutique’ – we were in there with festivals 15 times bigger than us

Food and drink, too, is a strength, and for 2015 a wider selection of fine food and drink than ever before will be available on site.

From award-winning pizza to locally reared meat, Indian and Mexican street-food, crepes, waffles, top coffee, teas, smoothies and the region’s best cask ales, festival-goers are not likely to go either hungry or thirsty.

For more information or to buy tickets go to www.cloudspotting-festival.co.uk/

Last year's Cloudspotting pulled in the crowds and a similar turnout is expected this year

Last year's Cloudspotting pulled in the crowds and a similar turnout is expected this year