Solas Festival is Scotland’s annual midsummer festival celebrating music and the arts. Since its inception ten years ago, Solas has aimed to entertain and inspire festival-goers of all ages. Over a three-day weekend it offers an eclectic mix of talks, workshops, theatre, dance and comedy, in addition to a broad musical backdrop of fresh beats and chilled-out vibes. Safe and inclusive, Solas is billed as ‘Scotland’s Most Family Friendly Music Festival’, and in 2019 it moved to a brand new location at Errol Park. Now, I must admit it’s been a few years since I let my hair down at a festival, as parenthood can sometimes put a dampener on that kind of thing (ever tried explaining portaloos to a small child?) However, Solas sounded perfect for me, my partner Lachlan and our four-year-old son, James, so we hopped on a bus from Perth and went to check it out.
Solas is billed as ‘Scotland’s Most Family Friendly Music Festival’
Clutching our day tickets, we arrived to a laid-back Sunday morning ambience. Mellow Errol. I heard that revelers had been grooving to a silent disco through the wee small hours, and the overnight campers were starting their day in a relaxed fashion! We adopted a similar approach and headed towards the wellbeing yurt which was hosting a kids’ yoga session. Lindsey Porter of Yoga-Nu-U soon had James and a circle of other children taking deep breaths before gleefully rocketing into space and practicing their yoga moves on Planet Frog and Planet Snake. I sat back and slugged down a coffee, savouring the fresh air and stunning views.
As we wandered on, we could hear Fischy Music playing on the main stage, their feel-good songs delighting their audience. Some children had attended an earlier workshop which enabled them to participate in front of the crowd. Our next stop was the Rag Tale Band workshop, incorporating physical theatre, music and storytelling. James joined in an appealing game of ‘sticky cow’ (yes, it was new to me too) while I observed from a safe distance.
With growling stomachs all round, it soon felt like lunchtime and so we went to see what we could find. The festival site is compact and well laid out (no mud or dust!), which made it easy for us to explore our options. I was tempted by the pizzas hot from a wood-fired oven, and the freshly cooked paella looked great too. But in the end, I couldn’t resist a portion of chilli-loaded fries. Diet schmiet. Lachlan opted for a chicken shawarma flatbread, and James demolished a halloumi and bacon flatbread. We sat by the main stage to eat, people-watching and enjoying the music. Local band Bruach were given an enthusiastic reception and, as the summer sun obligingly started to shine down on us, the festival atmosphere was a-buzz. It seemed only right to indulge a little and happily enough the bar was right next to us, serving a selection of beers, wines and spirits.
Next, we made our way to see ‘The Bean Counter’ – a character comedy with a red-nosed clown heading up an International Jellybean Counting Competition. Quite as eccentric as it sounds, this turned out to be a hugely funny performance by Alice Mary Cooper who held us all entranced in her madcap world. Afterwards, we watched the mystical moves on display at the Unicorn Dance Party. I tried enticing James to find his inner unicorn, but couldn’t persuade him to join in the fun. Instead we took a leisurely stroll around, and I browsed the wide array of stalls selling clothes, bags and jewellery, alongside wood carvings and other crafts.
I was truly amazed by the sheer number, and diverse range, of attractions at Solas.
I was truly amazed by the sheer number, and diverse range, of attractions at Solas. A quick glance through the weekend listings for children and families revealed campfire cooking, den building, creative dance, puppet theatre, RSPB nature bingo and bug walks, storytelling, kids’ films, and an appearance by Mr Boom. There was face-painting, hair-braiding and James (not to mention Lachlan) both tried their butter-fingers at an impromptu juggling lesson. And these were just the children’s activities! In addition, there was body percussion, open mic, poetry, photography, printmaking, mindfulness…the list goes on and on.
We went back to the main stage to listen to the brilliant Folkify, and quite frankly, if you’ve never heard a folked-up version of Bat Out of Hell, you don’t know what you’re missing. They were followed by a lovely performance from the Solas choir. This was a group of like-minded individuals who had met only a few hours earlier to create music together. As their gentle harmonies drifted over the countryside, I reflected that Solas had been a revelation. An uplifting festival at a great new location, it extends a warm welcome to the whole family (kids go free!) and I would love to return next year. To find out more about Solas Festival take a look at their website.
Our Small City Music Reviewer - Colin - headed along to review the music and stuff for adults at Solas Festival. You can read his review here! >
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