With its packed programme of live entertainment, food and drink, CHESHIRE FEST is bigger and better than ever before
The good old Mancunian weather didn’t stop the crowds from attending CHESHIRE FEST this weekend as the annual family fun festival makes a welcome return to Manchester Rugby Club on Saturday 1 June and Sunday 2 June.
Following the phenomenal success of last year festival, this year sees the ground increased by twice the size with a larger Main Stage, an all-new Acoustic Stage, more food and drink outlets and plenty of children’s play areas to keep the little ones happy.
Split into two main areas, CHESHIRE FEST prides itself on being a ‘family festival’ with a whole section dedicated to young festivalgoers. The Kids Zone Play Park, which forms a good half of the ground, is right by the entrance and boasts plenty of slides, rides, zorbes and inflatables to keep the young ones entertained. The little ones are also encouraged to come dressed as their favourite characters as Disney legends from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN and MARY POPPINS perform classic songs and meet young fans.
The vast majority of the entertainment takes place on the Kids Stage with a show approximately every 30 mins from 12 noon to 7pm. On Saturday, 5 STAR UNIQUE talent theatre school kicked off the show, with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and Warrington-based Jennifer King (who starred in THE VOICE KIDS) following thereafter. With a mix of entertainment on here, from Ariana Grande tribute acts to Junior Frood, the UK’s Freestyle Dance Champion, the majority of the crowds tend to hover around here for the first half of the day, certainly until the acts start on the main stage, although the infamous Silent Disco proved popular with Shush having everyone dancing to music as they listen on wireless headphones.
Those without little ones can skip past the Kids Zone and head straight towards the Main Stage where there is everything you could want from pop-up inflatable Beer and Cider Tents to Cocktails, Prosecco, a Gin Garden, an all-new Acoustic stage and VIP area.
Situated to the right-hand side of the Main Stage is the Food Village with a wide range of local independent and festival traders offering everything from Thai and South East Asian food to Yorkshire Pudding Wraps and wood-fired pizzas. Food prices average at around £7/8, with sides and sweet treats at around £3/4.
There is also plenty of drink outlets dotted around with award-winning brewery Tiny Rebel offering festivalgoers the chance to meet the team at a special ‘meet the brewer’ event on Saturday. The inflatable pop-up pub proves to be the most popular choice, alongside the Champagne and Prosecco Bar. Prices start from £5 for a beer, £4 for a glass of wine or £5 for a glass of Prosecco. Bottles of wine are also available for a reasonable £15/20. It’s worth noting that you can’t pay cash at any of the bars so you’ll either need to pay on a card or exchange your money for tokens to be able to purchase a drink. Cash is taken at the food outlets, however.
The first stop for us was the all-new Acoustic stage, a new stage for this year which is set amongst the Gin Garden with deckchair seating, hay bales and bunting. Entertainment here starts from 12.30pm with singer-songwriter Jack Woodward kicking off the show. Other acts performing included rising star Jess Kemp, whose music has been featured on BBC Introducing and Radio 2, as well as The Bright Black, Chris Tavener, Joel Gardner, Drew Selby and Lyza to name but a few.
On the main stage, there is a mix of tribute acts, with a different theme running each day. On Saturday, the focus was on rock and indie pop with early entertainment coming from Totally Tina, an energetic Tina Turner tribute complete with backing dancers and four costume changes. Stereophonics tribute The Phonics followed, with Kazabian (Kasabian) and The Fillers (The Killers) entertaining the crowds with an impressive light show. The headliner on Saturday was Kings Ov Leon (Kings Of Leon).
The theme for Sunday is ‘Family Favourites’ with The Stones (The Rolling Stones) Vicky Jackson as Pink, Bruno – A Tribute To Bruno Mars and Little Fix (Little Mix) all taking to the stage before critically acclaimed Queen tribute Flash close the weekend programme.
My press pass got me into the VIP section which is located to the left of the Main Stage. Alongside fast track entry, VIP ticket holders get a bottle of Prosecco on arrival, access to a luxury tent with a private bar away from the crowds, as well as executive toilets and exclusive entertainment from DJ Lee Crank. At £50 plus booking fee, this is an expensive upgrade and whilst this section certainly looks the part with its plush chairs, private DJ, champagne bar and pretty lighting, it also feels distinctly separate from the rest of the festival, losing some of the venue’s atmosphere.
For those who don’t live in the area (like me), parking can also be an issue. There is a limited amount of parking available in a field around the back of the Rugby Club (at £5 per car) but this is on a first come, first served basis and is likely to be filled by early afternoon. There is also a 10-minute walk to reach the ticket gate, although those with a disability will be able to park closer to the venue.
That said, at £20 per adult or £30 for the weekend, CHESHIRE FEST is certainly worth the ticket price. The organisers have clearly worked hard to put together a packed programme of live entertainment, food and drink and their effort has certainly paid off. Roll on next year…
CHESHIRE FEST 2019 takes place at Manchester Rugby Club in Cheadle Hulme on Saturday 1 June and Sunday 2 June 2019. Day tickets and weekend passes are on sale now.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.