Consumer: Music festivals that don’t break the bank

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New music events are popping up across Yorkshire. Sophie Hazan learns that festivals can be for the cash-conscious

It’s usually the bigger, louder and messier the better when it comes to music festivals.

However, there seems to have been a subtle shift in mood with an increasing number of people eeking out newer and relatively unknown events at which to soak up their sounds.

And the picture is no different in Yorkshire, where Consumerwatch has witnessed the rise of the independent outdoor music weekend, in particular in North Yorkshire with the unleashing of Beacons at Skipton (formerly Moor Music Festival), Limetree at Grewelthorpe, The Magic Loungeabout at Broughton Hall and Deer Shed at Topcliffe.

From electro to funk, each offers a different musical vibe, but the main attraction seems to be their convenience, intimacy and affordability.

Quality food, drink and sleep are also key selling points.

So while Leeds Festival last year attracted 75,000 guests, who were each charged around £200 for a weekend ticket, there are more wallet-friendly options happening in a field near you.

Veteran festival goers Karen and Sean Birdsall set up Limetree Festival in 2007 - adult weekend tickets cost from £85 - after having had success with smaller one day music events they had organised for charity.

When the pair managed to land the venue of their dreams - the “spiritual” Limetree Farm in Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire - they threw themselves into a project that would change their lives.

They created a soul and funk festival for families.

The line-up might not be as mainstream as some being banded about at sister events, but to music lovers there are some huge names, including Zero 7 and DJ Andy Smith (Portishead), who will be kicking up a storm in the dance tent, and soul songstress Carleen Anderson and The Ronnie Scott All Stars tearing up the main stage.

Sean, 44, who was made redundant from his post as a finance director when the building firm where he worked closed in February, has embraced his new job working with musicians.

Karen, 43, continues to work as a part-time book keeper, and the pair are actively encouraging children Kafi, 20 and Keenan, 17, to muck in.

What started off as an intimate weekend gathering supported by a few hundred of the Birdsall’s friends and family, has year-on-year doubled in size.

The pair were left scrambling around looking for extra car parking space when an amazing 1,500 turned out in support of what is ultimately a family celebration in 2010 - numbers, they were keen to stress, that have been catered for this year.

But while Limetree is rapidly growing, it remains independent and joyously low key.

There is enough space for 7,000 people, but both Karen and Sean are protective of the cosy atmosphere that could be ruined if things got too big.

Karen said: “Although the bigger festivals are extremely popular there has been a movement of people looking for smaller more personal festivals.

“Ours is quite small with a focus on local in support of food and drink suppliers, musicians and festival goers.

“Its grown in reputation because its family friendly. Literally we were just a party of friends, then last year I found myself walking around for half an hour unable to find anyone I actually knew which was the first sign that it had grown to friends of friends.”

Having experienced some of the big crowd pullers such as Glastonbury, Leeds and the Big Chill, Karen added that they had learned from their experiences.

She said: “We have taken all the best bits and rolled them into one.

“There’s no long walk from the car park to the camping area, and I will quite honestly be eating from each and every one of the food stalls as they are simply amazing - and won’t charge you a fortune.

“Oh, and we will have a quiet camping area where you actually will be able to get some sleep.”

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