Rain and thunder could not dampen the spirits of visitors to the SO Festival, as thousands of people flocked to East Lindsey for the spectacular celebration of arts last week.
Taking place across various locations in the district, more than 20 acts wowed audiences with outdoor art performances, live music and circus entertainment during the nine-day extravaganza.
Lorna Fulton, festival director for SO Festival, said: “We are delighted that so many people braved the wind and the rain to support SO Festival and see the fantastic acts this year.
“The aim of SO Festival is to bring the arts to towns and communities that wouldn’t normally have access to free performances and street acts, as well as raise the profile of market towns in East Lincolnshire as areas of culture and excitement for families across the UK.
“This year, we wanted to centre the festival’s inspiration around the beautiful rural, agricultural and coastal landscapes of East Lincolnshire by focusing on ‘the elements’ – earth, air, fire and water.”
Returning for its eighth year, SO Festival – delivered by Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture - visited the towns of Mablethorpe, Horncastle, Alford, Louth, Spilsby and Woodhall Spa before finishing in Skegness for the big finale. This year’s opening night was hosted in Mablethorpe for the first time – statistically one of the UK’s most deprived areas.
Magna Vitae’s managing director, Mark Humphreys said: “Hosting the opening night in Mablethorpe was a major developmental decision for the 2016 event, this impacted greatly on the local community and businesses that benefitted from an increase in footfall. We brought some of our most exciting acts to the market town including exclusive SO Festival performances from the electrifying Flame Oz and the intriguing Avanti Display.”
This year also saw keen gardeners in Lincolnshire get involved by helping to plant a pop-up installation along the Skegness Promenade during the finale weekend. Schoolchildren, community groups and individuals have spent the past few months growing plants for the project to form the earth element.
Highlights also included the UK premier of Mù by the renowned French Company Transe Express, who performed to thousands of visitors in Skegness on Saturday. Their large-scale act saw a monumental structure travel through the air as aerobatic dancers performed around and within it.
Finishing the week-long celebrations was And Now: with Water Water Everywhere! Performing an amazing water act at the Marina Lake in Skegness on Sunday, the event finished on a high with colourful fireworks and an impressive flyover from the Red Arrows.
Lorna added: “It was clear that everyone at SO Festival was enjoying themselves as there was something for the whole family; from huge aerial acts and dare devil stunts to music that made you dance and interactive workshops for children and families. The finale weekend is always one to remember and it was great to see that thousands of families made the journey to the coast for SO Festival.
“I would like to thank the SO Festival team and volunteers, all the amazing performers and the brilliant audience who braved the rain for the festival. We look forward to seeing you all next year!”
SO Festival was awarded National Portfolio Funding from Arts Council England with the aim to promote and present the best festival arts and entertainment to new audiences and creating new opportunities and experiences.
Darren Henley, chief executive, Arts Council England, said: “It’s been great to see our investment supporting SO Festival to grow into one of England’s top outdoor arts festivals. Over the weekend it was fantastic to be in Skegness to see for myself local people and holiday makers enjoying all it had to offer, from opera and dance to circus and music, and a spectacular finale from Transe Express.”
Aimed at a family audience, the festival remains as one of the most exciting and innovative outdoor art festivals in the UK.
SO Festival is delivered by Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture in partnership with East Lindsey District Council and Arts Council England.
SO Festival 2017 will be taking place from 24 June to 2 July next year. For further updates, visit www.sofestival.org.
VIDEO: Highlights from SO Festival