Reflecting on the splendour, beauty and fun of Woodford Folk Festival’s New Years celebrations

The last two days of Woodford were both exhausting and exhilarating. The weather didn’t always comply with the fun times, truly being the case when it’s over 30 degrees 6 in the morning. A few hours and a few litres of sweat later, a restful bit of creation came from ourselves at the Amphitheatre to make a bunch of lanterns for the fire event tomorrow, and then back down the hill for a bit of rest.

Eventually, some music was seen – the first act being The Fergies at Bill’s Bar and then Bity Booker at The Small Hall. Both acts are sweet outfits with songs perfect for the middle of the day. With the sun still bearing down, it was awesome to just relax in some undercover shelter for a little bit. Conservation of energy is also important on this New Years night.

After a walk down to our grassy campsite and yet another puffy walk up to the festival site, we see Karl S Williams again belting out some tunes with his huge, deep baritone voice emanating like a rolling burst of energy. It was unbelievable to watch this exertion of liveliness on such a hot day, but it was Woodford and extraordinary things happen here.

Amanda Palmer disappointed yesterday, but today had an exalting presence with her presentation of A Very Beautiful Cabaret with Brendan Maclean. An enjoyable highlight being a truly fun version of ‘Map of Tasmania’ and a couple of wonderful duets with Maclean, who himself once again gave us some wonderful pop in the show with his own cute little humour. Much like the first time I saw him in this festival, he again joyfully stripped down to his underwear probably as a combination of him feeling extra hot up there on stage but also due to his free wheelin’ nature and the fun he was having.

The Little Stevies came by with a lovely little set of folk to end off their last gig for the year, while Hat Fitz & Cara provided something very different, rollicking towards the new year with huge voices. Cara Robinson looked like she could drum on forever into the night, but all (yes, all) great sets need to finish up sometime.

Of course, this being New Year’s Eve, we had to ring in the new year somewhere on this festival ground. After the magical three minutes of silence where all people across the festival remain silent to reflect on their year, it’s time to party down at the Amphitheatre, where up to what had to be ten thousand people gathered to see a collection of bands like BULLHORN, The Mission Songs Project and the Hot Potato Band bop into midnight. The first song of 2017 being “Auld Lang Syne” for anyone wanting to know, played beautifully by the horn section of Hot Potato Band.

Hat Fitz & Cara. Picture: Philippe Perez

This little reviewer couldn’t sleep and decided to sweatingly walk up to the Hilltop stage to watch the sunrise ceremony for the first day of the year with the Tashi Lhunpo Monks of Tibet providing the sounds for the sun rising over the countryside through and beautifully lush Glass Mountains of Woodfordia. It was a site to behold and words can’t describe what we saw with the sun peaking over the mountains on the first day of 2017. Such a wonderful treat to see.

Some shut eye had to happen sometime this morning, and sleep did come even though it was in the blast of near 40-degree heat again, a nice dip in some icy-cold esky water did the trick to allow this little reveller to hit the first day of 2017 head-on.

Mr Percival kicked us off with a singing session to get the souls inspired first thing in the new year. The was this beautiful connection between audience and performer that put everyone in a good mood for the rest of the day. The Mae Trio provided a little beautiful harmony for the morning prior to some relaxation amongst the lakes of Woodford with a life drawing class that calm the mind even more.

One artist who was avoided for some reason or another, yet having some amazing reviews through the festival was Wallis Bird. The Irish songwriter, who just had a guitar and footboard to provide the rhythm powered through a set that had so much vitality, that the huge dance crowd that formed for the solo performer seemed unbelievable.

The Fire Event. Photo: Woodford Folk Festival

As the afternoon wore on, we decided to fly on up to the Amphitheatre to see how our lanterns had turned out and then carry them through the crowd prior to the huge Fire Event. Consisting of some great acrobatics, puppetry and artistry, this celebration of the six days of connectedness we all had in this festival was simply beautiful to watch among a night sky full of stars.

The last bit of music to round out the festival was the Start As You Mean To Go On showcase of musicians giving it one last hurrah for this majestic festival. A whole bunch of artists took part, but the highlights being the looping fun of Mal Webb and Kylie Morrigan, the delectable Irish jigs of Fourwinds, and once again, the stunning harmonies of The Mae Trio, who probably were a fitting end to a festival full of splendour, beauty and fun.

While the heat did persist through the days, nothing can stop this festival as a thing of wonder. It may sound like an exaggerated statement, but every music loving fan should come here at least once in their life, not only to just bring in the new year but to know that audience and creatives alike can relate and connect to one and other, even in the most anxious of times.

Woodford Folk Festival occurred between 27th December 2016 – 1st January 2017. The next event to happen at the festival grounds is The Planting Festival, happening from the 28th – 30th April. More info can be found at their website.


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