Greenbelt 06

We are just back from Greenbelt 06. What is Greenbelt? According to their site it is

Youth festival, music festival, political festival, evangelical
festival, development festival, broke festival, harvest festival…
there’s something in all these myths about Greenbelt that is accurate,
but nothing entirely true.

Jane and I last went 20 years ago and got engaged while there1.

So how did it go?

Venue

Greenbelt is now at Cheltenham Racecourse and has been for many years. Obviously our first time there. It was good to be able to have some permanent buildings, some non muddy ground, some real toilets and all the extra rooms for talks, music etc. The buildings are a  bit of a maze and are not ideally suited for the number of different things happening at the same time. That made finding the right queue tricky at times and also slowed the changeover between items at times.

The site seemed well laid out with plenty of space and yet the festival bits reasonably compact.

Talks

Obviously being somewhat older I was interested in different stuff to the last visit. For me the highlight this time was the talks. For starters I got to Johnny Baker, John Bell (x2), Maggi Dawn, Norman Kember, Michael Northcott, Sally & Sean Robertshaw, Jim Wallis. Jane went to some others and so did Andrew. Sadly Walter Wink was unavailable so his talks were cancelled. I failed to get into a couple of others (including Maggi Dawns other talk).

Timing was an issue. You need to judge the venue and the speaker popularity to know how early you need to be, that means it is often impossible to get to back to back talks. Fortunately, having the "Wesley" venue outside meant that everyone who wanted to could get to some of the really big names.

I may well comment more on some of these talks separately as they were excellent and challenging.

Worship

We all went to the Sunday morning communion which was a good service, although a time of praise all together at the main stage before or after would have been good. Sadly, did not manage a lot of other worship for one reason or another (getting Stephen to/from the excellent Kids Festival, meal preparation, kids to bed etc), but all I did experience was good and yes ideas are coming back to Methodism in the Nene Valley Circuit.

Music

Managed to catch Ben Okafor at the Christian Aid Performance Tent, sadly missed Garth Hewitt (but bought two CD’s instead). Also heard the Mohabir Sisters again in the performance tent. Kids heard a lot more and have come home with a variety of CD’s from bands they had not heard of before (Titus, Electralyte and Fischy Music). Caught lots of other bits and know the older boys spent time listening too stuff at Stage 2, the Mix and Main Stage.

Camping

You might have thought that we had enough of camping after our cycling holiday. Anyway we went fairly lightweight with 3 small(ish) tents. Our little used 18 year old Vango MK 5 came out and worked reliably as always. We were on campsite 9, a fair walk away but it worked well (especially after they added more toilets after problems Friday night/Saturday morning).

We were with 3 others from Raunds who had a tent with a large seating area, with hindsight a good idea. Now we realise that you can take caravans into the main camping area we might have a little more comfort next year. It would free up a lot more time to get to the festival as cooking and eating is so much easier.

Oh and the toilets are a million times better than 20 years ago.

Family

Everyone says they enjoyed it and wants to go back. The Kids Festival was great for Stephen who had two really good mornings there. Peter found "The Mix" superb and only seemed to emerge for donuts and sleep. On the other hand Andrew did not get into Humanics much and tended to go to main festival things.  Mobile phones were very useful for finding each other.

Food

The food on offer was pretty good although not cheap. We found a quick breakfast at the campsite and some solid pasta or rice in the evening was all we needed to prepare and then bought the rest around the festival – but that meant around £10 cash per person per day (some lunch, couple of drinks and a snack). Make sure you take all the cash you will need as the cash machines on site ran out very quickly (and charge for withdrawals).

Some highlights were organic sausages in a bun, Mocha Mania coffees, and Falafell.

Friends

One of the joys of Greenbelt was meeting lots of old friends. I just kept bumping into them. Some I had not seen in many years, others I have met online (hi again Dave), which included a whole lot of the wibsite bloggers some I read and others I have not yet, many with connections to Richard as well. Also met Youthblog. and Pedallingmythoughts. Also we met Inderjit & family.

Photos

I didn’t take any. So see the offical Greenbelt photos and all the ones tagged on Flickr.

Overall

Fantastic. Go in 2007 if you possibly can.

Footnotes

1: Actually, opinion is divided. Jane maintains that she got engaged to me a couple of weeks earlier, while I am sure that I actually popped the question while at Greenbelt 86.

5 thoughts on “Greenbelt 06

  1. Peter Kirk

    I was also at Greenbelt for the first and last time about 20 years ago, at the site near Northampton. I never went back not least because of the toilets! So I am glad that they have improved. In fact that was I think my last experience of camping at a Christian event until last week, when I went to the Momentum event, in some ways a rival to Greenbelt. Also reasonable toliets there, and even hot showers! I still plan to blog more about Momentum. St Andrew’s Bookshop did well out of me too.

    Reply
  2. Boy in the bands

    Greenbelt aftermath

    My favorite British bloggers all went to Greenbelt, the famous youth festival, music festival, political festival, evangelical festival, development festival, broke festival, harvest festival this year held in Cheltenham. It seems to be a…

    Reply
  3. DaveW

    Peter,
    Yep the toilets can now be considered fully acceptable 95% of the time.
    Few showers though (and £3 to book one).
    IMHO Greenbelt has a much wider focus (can you have a wide focus?) than Momentum and Soul Survivor. Take Emerging Worship, Social Justice, Politics, Literature are a few examples of things that I believe Greenbelt gives a much greater emphasis to than Momentum and Soul Survivor which at least in my perception are evangelistic conversion, training and motivation events. That does not mean they are not good, just different.

    Reply
  4. Martin Wright

    We were also at Greenbelt 06 after a long gap (mid eighties at Northampton). We had a great time – something for all the family. The “focus” is definitely wider – the stand-up comedy for instance which was decidedly not for the youngsters! Anyway, I’m only really posting this as I stumbled on this site and recognised Dave from my days in MethSoc when I was at UMIST!

    Reply

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