thu 07/07/2022

The Great Estate, Redruth review - Cornwall's finest festival extravaganza | reviews, news & interviews

The Great Estate, Redruth review - Cornwall's finest festival extravaganza

The Great Estate, Redruth review - Cornwall's finest festival extravaganza

A right royal knees-up in the magnificent grounds of Scorrier House

Ibibio Sound Machine at The Great Estate Festival

For those wishing to avoid the bloated plutocracy of #PlattyJoobs, the Great Estate Festival was the perfect antidote. Set in the beautiful estate of Scorrier House in Redruth, Cornwall it is described as “the most rambunctious garden fete”.

There are two parts to this festival and an actual divide between them. Before the main entrance there is The Sanctuary, home to the Earth Roots stage, featuring world music and much barefoot dancing in hay before fire-spinning poi dancers emerged under the stars. One of my festival highlights was grooving here to Baka Beyond (pictured below), who have spent 30 years perfecting a fusion of traditional Baka music from Cameroon and Celtic sounds, with Devon-based reggae-rock-world fusion Lionstar and N'famady Kouyaté who mixes Welsh sounds with music from West Africa, being close contenders.

Baka Beyond on the Earts Roots StageNearby in the Zen Den, there was ecstatic dance, medicine music and high dimension meditation alongside all kinds of yoga from hip hop to slow flow, kids to Kundalini. Bohemian tents housed wellness workshops on nature connectedness, positive psychology, sacred Yoni journeys, Goddess belly dancing and group healing as well as one-to-one sessions of massage, craniosacral therapy and chakra balancing. Children had an array of wholesome activities to choose from, including willow-weaving, percussion workshops and pottery on a foot-driven kick wheel. Our favourite kids activity was the beat boxing workshops at Frolicking Freedom Play.

Heading through to the main field was quite a different affair, with chair rides, candy floss and an abundance of beer and cheer to fuel the Victorian parlour games on the lawn, lindy hop and… Oh yes, the music, which almost takes a back seat to the festival’s more general shenanigans. While The Great Estate is very much a family affair, there is a strong offering too for evening revellers. The main stage on the green saw late night headliners Manic Street Preachers, Ibibio Sound Machine, Electric Six, DJ Yoda and Black Grape.

Wellness workshops in The SanctuaryFriday night was Ibibio Sound Machine (main picture) – a high-energy clash of goddess gorgeousness and synth beats. Frontwoman Eno Williams pushed the energy and we kept dancing to “I Need You to Be Sweet Like Sugar”, “17, 18, 19”, “Protection from Evil” and “All That You Want”, revelling in the rhythm of West African funk, heavy bass, fiery guitars and explosive lyrics.

Saturday night came alive as the Manics threw us back to the nineties, reeling off well known hits “Motorcycle Emptiness”, “Design for Life”, “Tsunami”, “Stole The Sun”, “Borderline” and “If You Tolerate This…”, the nostalgic tracks perfect fodder for a Dad-rock crowd.

Madame Wongs House of Wrong was the weekend’s fun generator, with local Cornish rappers Hedluv and Passman, a wonderfully decadent set from Elektra Fence and a comedy hour. My face still hurts from laughing at middle-aged white doctors leaving out the swears from "99 Problems" at the Hip-hop Karaoke. BBC-introducing sessions showcased the excellently punky Viva Valentine and a beautiful set by Will Eason starring the sublime voice of Robyn Alvarez – who could well be the Morcheeba of this generation.

A poet in the woodlands of Scorrier HouseWinding our way through the bunting-clad branches of a forest, we found a secret gem of a garden. This whimsical journey uncovered painted mermaids, moving statues of royalty, poets lounging in the woodlands reading out their words (pictured left) with paintings, books and crowns hanging from fairy-lit trees above. Moving swiftly past a very expensive, very quiet gin bar, the small Secret Gin Garden stage saw some rather more refined acts of strings, accordion, opera and jazz, with the gravelly voiced guitarist and singer Louella Jade Eke being particularly memorable.

The Cornish Orchard Stage was a beautiful little wooden setup nestled into the forest next to the silent disco. Saturday afternoon’s acoustic duo Scenic Route performing both covers and original songs inspired by the Cornish landscape and living in the moment was the perfect time to chill before gearing up to a wild Saturday evening of DJ Karmaloji’s ghetto-funk electro swing.

While the Great British weather may have dampened the embers of the festival’s final days, it’s clear that The Great Estate is one of Cornwall’s most exciting festival offerings, with the rugged beauty of the ancient Scorrier House land lending a fitting sense of wonder to the wilderness.

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