Lancaster’s Williamson Park hosts huge Highest Point party - and there’s lots more to come
Lancaster’s Williamson Park was blessed with glorious sunshine as festival goers enjoyed an eclectic mix of live music and DJs at this year’s Highest Point festival.
Main stage headliners Sister Sledge drew the biggest crowd on the first night of the event, with a set that included their well known hits and some covers too.
They also seemed to enjoy exploring Lancaster prior to the show, signing autographs for fans, and enjoying a meal at one of Lancaster’s favourite restaurants.Tameside indie rockers Cabbage were another highlight, lighting up The Ashton Memorial on the BBC Introducing Stage with a heavy, melodic sound and up front stage presence.
In The Dell, a natural stone amphitheatre nestled within the woods of the park, people danced on and between the tiered wooden seating throughout the day and long after the sun had set over Morecambe Bay.
Earlier in the day Lancaster’s Mr Ben and The Bens played to a growing crowd on the main stage with a great sounding set, proof if it was needed that this young city band easily compare in quality and professionalism to some of the more well established acts.
Guitar pair Showhawk Duo played nostalgic covers of dance and electronic favourites, including Faithless’ Insomnia, zombie nation, and the oft re-worked classical piece Adagio for Strings.
For a guitar two piece they had a big sound.
London collective Alabama 3, “the fellas that did that Soprano’s theme tune”, brought a cool, bouncy edge to the main stage, mixing country, acid house, blues, gospel and electro.
61-year-old hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash trawled through his record collection, playing underground and pop hits from the last 40 years with a crowd pleasing set, and taking time out to preach the gospel and roots of hip-hop and rap culture.
There are five stages at the festival, with The Sundial - based around the park’s beautiful sundial - The Dell, and Gin and Disco, which uses the park’s waterfall as a centrepiece, given over exclusively to DJs.
The festival went “cashless” this year too. Festival goers could use their wristband, which is microchipped, to buy food and drinks.
It takes a little getting used to, but essentially means you top up the wristband with cash or card at designated points, and staff zap it with a machine each time you make a purchase.
There was plenty of great food on offer too, with spicy Jamaican street food, woodfired pizza, African dishes, ice cream, and Blackpool’s Burgerhain too.
Wyresdale Road either side of the park is closed to traffic other than for access for the duration of the event, and the park itself has barriers up encouraging people to stay on the paths when moving through the park.
As far as the Lancaster Guardian could tell, all respected this.
There is certainly capacity within Williamson Park for a higher turnout of people, but those that were there enjoyed relatively little queuing for bars and toilets, and plenty of space to stretch out on the grass and enjoy the stunning surroundings.
Highest Point continues today, Saturday May 18, with Lancaster’s Lowes opening the main stage at 1pm.
There will also be performances from Anna Calvi, who headlines the BBC Introducing Stage at 8.30pm with a solo set, Judge Jules, The Dutty Moonshine Big Band, Feeder, Twisted Wheel, Stealing Sheep and main stage headliners The Zutons.
And the weather forecast is for light cloud, with sunny intervals, 15 Degrees.
The festivities continue on Sunday with a family oriented day featuring a parade, live music and DJ performances, craft activities and face painting.