In a packed calendar of summer festivals, Belper Goes Green stands out for its mix of stellar entertainment and family-friendly environmental initiatives.
Back again for a fifth year at Belper Rugby Club on the weekend of June 2-4, the event laces its line-up of local music and spoken word talent with ideas for creating a cleaner, greener world of the future.
Lead organiser David George, 62, said: “We want to demonstrate low carbon ways of living and enjoying yourself but without preaching in people’s faces.
“We want people to come and have a good time, and perhaps pick up some of what we’re talking about while they wander round. We think its the best programme of free entertainment ever put together in Belper.” He added: “We had about 6,000 people come to the festival last year, and I think most people who live in the area are very receptive to what we’re about.
“The feedback we’ve had is always positive, people love the festival and its chilled, laid-back atmosphere with lots of things to get involved in.”
The fun kicks off in the Big Marquee on Friday night with four bands guaranteed to get your feet moving - from the jazz and funk stylings of Blackfish and Water for Dogs to the folk goth of Arguably Venomous Mammals and classic rock with Cyclone Eddie.
Then the action hots up on Saturday and Sunday with electrifying entertainment programmes powered by renewable energy.
Highlights include experimental cellist Sarah Newby, noise rockers Crimewolf, singer-songwriter Matt McGuinness & The MLC, and ‘50s rock and rollers Kitty and the Cadillacs.
David said: “The solar stage will run into the late evening on Saturday and promises two full days of bands and artists - and without taking resources from the planet.
“The bike stage has a PA powered by whoever is willing to pedal power, and will host young local musical talent and the results of Belper’s own protest songwriting workshops, from rap to folk.”
If the idea of protest rap seems a bit too much, festival goers will be glad to know the weekend has been declared as an election-free zone.
David explained: “It will be a haven from the campaigning, rosettes, hectoring and baby-kissing that we’ll all be thoroughly sick of by the time the festival kicks off. There will, however, be space to learn about environmental issues, the work of charities and the activities of local community groups.”
He added: “This is an incredible display of our community coming together to make Belper a better place to live regardless of political affiliation.”
The RAW Talks tent will host a series of talks on Saturday including the return of the very popular Human Library, and more than 30 organisations and businesses are planning to hold stalls.
David said: “On Sunday we open it up to a spoons workshop followed by a Poet Slam – half a dozen or so of the finest local wordsmiths sharing their talent.”
The programme reflects the philosophy of the festival’s parent organisation, Transition Belper, which works all year round to shift the town on to a more sustainable pathway.
The group is part of a national network of small towns sharing good ideas to bring positive transformation to residents’ lives and reduce their impact on the environment.
Their regular work includes looking after the planting at Belper Station, creating topiary displays at Crich Lane Festival Garden, vegetable growing schemes for people who can no longer manage their home gardens, food boxes for people in need, and emerging transport projects like the Derwent Valley Cycleway.
David said: “People expect environmental groups to be about campaigning, but we’re more about doing. I joined Transition in 2010 because I was increasingly concerned about climate change, but felt my own efforts to tackle it were like banging my head against a brick wall.
“The group has really helped to make a difference, and it’s much better getting things done rather than feeling frustrated all the time.”
Alongside all the talks and performances, there will be more sedate activities for revellers who prefer to live at their own pace.
David said: “We’ve got all sorts of recycled crafts, lots of vegetarian food, sustainability experts, architects, lifestyle advisors, a health and wellbeing area with Weleda.
“There will be a chance to try your hand at planting seeds, making bees to add to a giant willow beehive being made at the festival, a cardboard labyrinth and a fun palace full of arts and science workshops.”
There is another big attraction too, he adds: “The CAMRA beer festival. This year we’ve had our own special cups produced so people can take them home to reuse.”
Full line-up and camping details can be found at www.transitionbelper.org.