Carol Ann Duffy signing outside St Chad’s Middlesmoor
Autumn has settled over Nidderdale, and all the festival team has recovered from putting on NiddFest 2016. Other festival directors always talk about the ‘difficult second festival’ but I’m glad to say that things ran smoothly and we saw many new faces and numbers up 15% from 2015. So a big thanks to everyone who came – our super audience, the speakers and event leaders, and of course the NiddFest team. We rely heavily on volunteer support and would be lost without their good humour and professionalism.
This past year saw forays into music with Kathryn Williams driving down from Newcastle to sing for us on the Saturday night. And of course the Barrowband performing at our children’s tent – a new addition from 2015. Around 150 adults and children came to the tent by the river Nidd for our Brambly Hedge-themed events and we were lucky with a sunny day.
Nature was on our side through the weekend: clouds dispersing on the Friday night to allow a glimpse of Saturn and her rings through the York Astronomical Society’s telescopes; a young cuckoo appearing on our early morning bird walk (led by leading cuckoo expert Nick Davies!); the wind staying down for den building and wild art in Fishpond Wood on Sunday.
As a team, we sit down a few weeks after the festival to discuss the festival – what worked and where we can improve. And, because the festival events are dotted around Nidderdale and we individually only see a fraction of what happened, we can share favourite moments. Such as Satish Kumar’s impassioned talk, Adam Feinstein reading Pablo Neruda’s nature poetry, Carol Ann Duffy signing on an impromptu table outside St Chad’s, children dancing along with the Barrowband and Christine Walkden closing the festival with warmth and humour – to name just a few.
For the future, our intention is to increase our outdoor activities and create a central festival site with attractions for children and adults. This will be a significant step up for NiddFest and we look forward to sharing news about this as our plans become fixed.