With an inclusive atmosphere, a great line-up and a staunchly anti-corporate ethic, Solfest is the king of festivals in England’s extreme North, as well as being a rarity in today’s world, a passion project, done solely for the love. Now in its tenth year and still going from strength to strength, the gathering at a sublime location near Aspatria in Cumbria is one of the worst kept secrets on the UK festival circuit. Staffed entirely by volunteers, this not-for-profit venture has consistently maintained a stella reputation among those who want a festival goer’s festival; no £7 rat burgers or Red Bull banners here, just great vibes, huge tunes and filthy beats. Basically, if you like V Festival, don’t bother!

This year’s bill of artists is an eclectic and well chosen collection of the very best in contemporary music. Tastes ranging from Folk, to Punk to Hard Dance are all catered for by the 7 stages and arenas, so if you can’t find something to wet your whistle then you should probably have yourself checked. In fact, Solfest is that crammed with talent that it would take an article larger than you’re willing to read to give you the lowdown on everything, so here are a few highlights that we at JAM humbly suggest you go and check out.

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Flogging Molly (pictured above) will be gracing the Main Stage with their own brand of Irish Folk-cum-Punk Rock. More than 15 years after their inception, Flogging Molly have just as much energy as ever and are just as relevant, indeed perhaps even more relevant than ever, given the focused, righteous anger of 2011’s ‘Speed Of Darkness’. These guys are a must see. Joining them on the Main Stage are one of the UK’s true treasures, AfroCelt Soundsystem. Playing an enchanting fusion of West African and Celtic sounds, intertwined with Trip-Hop and Techno rhythms, AfroCelt’ have collaborated with the likes of Robert Plant and Sinéad O’Connor and are rightly considered one of the heavyweights of world music. The Dance Tent is also looking pretty damn promising with appearances from the master of Breaks, Krafty Kuts himself, who’ll be rinsing out his pin sharp mixes in style, as well as from the stalwart, scene originators, Utah Saints.

At Solfest you leave out the smaller stages at your peril, as they accommodate some of the freshest talent on site, and this year is no exception. 9 piece Ska juggernaut Bombskare, renowned for their blistering live performances and funky tunes, will be tearing up the Bar Stage while Holy Moly & The Crackers bring their up-beat, Balkan Folk Rock to the always stunning Drystone Stage and lets not forget the legendary Dogs In Space tent! This time around Dogs In Space will be host to Eat Static’s Merv Pepler, not only playing to a much smaller crowd than usual, but also showcasing a range of Dub, Trip Hop and World Music in a set that is sure to be a more than interesting departure from his normal fare.

Running from the 23rd to the 25th of August, it’s looking like Solfest’s 10th birthday is going to be the best yet! Considering that festivals tend to age in dog years, getting to number ten is some pretty good going, surely a testament to the commitment of the organisers and the quality of the show they put on. We at JAM can’t wait for this one and we hope to see you all there in the fields with us.


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