REPORT BY, FLORENCE HULBERT.
On Saturday the 7th of July, I spent the day at Western Park Festival. The festival has been running for the last six years, and for me, marks the beginning of summer. Unlike previous years that involved umbrellas and trudging through mud, the festival was caught mid heatwave which made summer feel even more real.
The festival has always had a lot to offer, when I was younger I used to love the hair braiding and henna as well as the zorbing and laser zone. My younger brothers have always taken full of advantage of the trampoline, bouncy castles and of course, the legendary Leicester book bus. Without trying to sound like a walking advert, it’s obvious that the festival has a lot to offer for all ages.
I got there quite early and was able to watch as people began to crowd. After finding my friends, we looked around and debated whether we were too old to get a hair braid, the young girls queuing confirmed our fears. By then, it was lunchtime and boy, did we have options. At the top of the field, there is a long line of food stalls anything from traditional British burgers to Italian, Jamaican and Indo Chinese. I decided on the vegan stall and had a mock duck wrap which tasted a lot nicer than it sounds. My friend Mia bought a bag of Jamaican dumplings which I got to try for the first time and let’s just say- I was not disappointed. As the afternoon heat kicked in we laid on the grass and continued to eat our way through the festival with ice creams, coffees and milkshakes. We also took a walk down memory lane to the big playground at the back of the park in which we spent many of our formative years.
The best part about the festival in the evening is the music. The biggest stage is in the top field as well as the bandstand which was rigged with a sound system. There was also a small stage at the entrance of the park. There were two acts which stood out for me. The first being rapper CompreHend, his songs are politically charged but rhythmic with the wit that is common in British rappers. The second was a band called Elysian that played on the main stage, their music was a mix of jazz and ska which felt just right in the warmth. The music was easy-going and suited the atmosphere as the sun began to go down.
For me, the best thing about the festival is that fact that it brings a real sense of community. It’s easy to forget in a city like ours that we can share good times with strangers. We are all so used to being so wrapped up in own little worlds as we get on packed buses, queuing for petrol and walk our dogs that we forget that we have a common connection- Western park, an expansive green against the houses and roads. So, despite everything, we are all brought together for good music, good food and occasionally, good weather.