Summer of 2009 saw the SO Festival visit the seaside town of Skegness.

The SO Festival started off with a big top being erected on Tower Gardens playing field. Two performances played, a 1940s style Berlin show with Mary Carewe and Sinfonia ViVA (East Midlands based orchestra) and an alternative comedy led by Mitch Benn, with Steve Hall, Alistair Barrie and Ray Peacock.

I personally didn’t see either of these performances since the 1940’s show isn’t my type of thing and the comedy show scheduled for 10pm, well I’m a mother with 2 young teens so it was a no go from the start for us, so on the first night I dumped the SO Festival and went to see the Chicago Blues Brothers at the Embassy Theatre with my kids instead (had a great night out).

If anyone saw the two shows feel free to add a comment below.

SO Festival WorkShops

The next day at the SO Festival was a little better for the kids/families. In Tower Gardens the SO Festival had set up free workshops for the kids/families, we spent a good few hours in Tower Gardens joining in with the circus workshop which we enjoyed a lot (more please): we had a go at juggling with balls, clubs and scarves, gave stilt walking a go, uni-cycling, plate spinning, diablo and poi (we’ve taken up poi) we really liked the free circus workshop my children gave it a big thumbs up :-)

The other events on offer was a dance workshop and the Funk Bus. My children really didn’t like the Funk Bus they found it boring since all it has for the kids to do is play video games, my kids like hands on activities something fresh and different and not to go out to the park on a beautiful summers day to be locked up inside a bus playing on the same consoles they already own at home!

Isn’t it councils around the country that are always complain about the children of this generation spending too much time on video games: so their answer to getting youngsters out the house is to occupy them with video games inside a bus parked on a park on a beautiful summers day?

The dance work shop also got a BIG thumbs down :-( although the form of dance was break dancing which is suitable for both girls and boys, yay! Unfortunately it was run badly with the majority of the day just watching the dance troupe dance, not much audience participation went on and when a dance lesson was on offer there was no announcements, which meant you missed it!

I happened to pass a dance lesson while it was on and it wasn’t very good, no real instruction going on and the teachers were teenagers so they wasn’t experienced in teaching (my impression anyway).

I was very disappointed that the council had employed a dance troupe from Derbyshire, what good is that to kids in Skegness? It would have made more sense to have the dance workshop run by a dance group from Skeggy (or at least close by) so if kids from Skeg got a taste for dancing they would be able to take up dance in Skegness.

Complaint About The Falling Angels at the SO Cultural Festival

I have a complaint about this dance group “The Falling Angels” about an incident that happened to my 15 year old son and three of his friends. While a lesson was going on my son and his friends where copying the dance instructor on the side lines, they didn’t know they could go inside and join in because the barrier wasn’t open. One of the teenagers from the Falling Angels dance troupe approached my son and his friends and said “either get inside or f**k off”.

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but that was totally inappropriate behavior, they were just trying to learn some moves, what does it matter where they were stood? I was in ear shot at all times and my son and his friends didn’t deserve to be spoken to this way. The comment came out of the blue, absolutely disgusting and not what you’d expect from a cultural festival!

We Enjoyed the Circus Workshop

We went home from Tower Gardens tired from the circus workshop (we hope to see it again in 2010, hint, hint), but happy and looking forward to the evening SO Festivals events on Skegness beach. We never watch the parades in Skegness since it’s just a bunch of tractors and cars from money making Skegness businesses advertising what a great time you’ll have at their run down premises instead of the one next door.

People of Skegness council and East Lindsey District Council listen up: a parade is something along the lines of the Spalding Flower Parade NOT this embarrassing run down sham of an event you host. It’s cheap, nasty and should not have been included in the SO Festival, it always shows you up big time and proves your stuck in the past and did I mention CHEAP.

Skegness Beach Activities at SO Festival

The 1st part of our night was ruined because in the Skegness Standard it had stated there was to be:

“7-9pm – Beach Rangers, leading lots of fun activities on central beach. Free”

We turned up at 7.30pm and there wasn’t any activities on the beach at all. So we decided to listen to the opera that was linked live from the Embassy Theater, (great idea in principle) we are regulars at the Embassy Theater (see our theater reviews), so we embrace culture :-) and will give anything a try. Our family motto is “you’ll never know until you try”, we left after 10 minutes because we couldn’t hear the opera over Bottons Rockin Roller trundling up it’s tracks (the screen/speakers was placed too close to the very noisy ride!).

We decided to leave Skegness beach and find something else to do like a game of golf or go to the boating lake to have some fun, when we got there nothing was open. It was obvious the council hadn’t discussed with Skegness attractions that it would be a good idea if they stayed open for the evening SO Festival event, instead we were left to walk around bored out our minds with nothing to do for 1 1/2 hours :-(

SO Festival Fireworks Display

We returned to Skegness beach and was lucky enough to get a spot at the front of “The World Famous” fire works display, no one knew what to expect or that the fire works show was accompanied by a live band called TerraFolk who played live music to the fireworks. The musicians included a violinists, guitarist, drummer, pianist on keyboard (who also played an accordion).

I have to say the show started slowly for at least 10 minutes it might have been longer (it certainly felt longer), I was bored and the kids were yawning, but it eventually picked up.

It was more of a pyrotechnics show than a fire works display. There were thousands of people on Skegness beach so I don’t know what the people at the back of the show got to see or hear since in our opinion it was a very close quarters type of affair with sparklers being lit on the floor and columns of green flames that would be hard to see from a distance.

The music was loud were we where, (speakers less than 10 feet away) but I can’t help thinking the people at the back near the pier wouldn’t be able to hear the music which went with the fireworks. There was a big screen on the beach, but I don’t know if it had been used so that everyone could see what was going on (none of us recall seeing it on).

It wasn’t all that fun and games at the front either, we got covered in kerosene from the spouting flames (they didn’t light every time) and hot ash in our eyes (never seen so much ash from fireworks) which meant we had to watch the fireworks through squinted eyes, so health and safety was a BIG problem (we stank of kerosene afterwards!).

Also during the fireworks display some fireworks landed in the crowd near the RNLI Lifeboats area, we don’t know if anyone got hurt?

We still enjoyed it though, I can quite honestly say I have never experienced anything quite like this show, it was neither a firework display in the classic sense or a concert, it was totally unique and a HIT with our family. I think my hubby summed it up by saying ” The fireworks wasn’t that great and the music was OK, but when you put them together it just worked really well :-) ”

The music by TerraFolk had a little to suit all tastes, so I was surprised to read in the Skegness Standard (our local news paper) that a councilor had had complaints that the music was too modern from some people who attended the SO Festival fireworks display on the beach! There was an accordion played in at least 3 of the 6 pieces of music that’s about as old as it gets, what’s modern about that exactly? I’ve downloaded TerraFolk’s rendition of “You Are My Sunshine ” I’ve always liked the song in it’s original form and TerraFolk’s have made it so I can love it all over again, I’m a bit of a Rock Head and I thought it was amazing how they added a rock influence and made the song their own.

Skegness Illuminations

After the fireworks the Skegness Illuminations was switched on and this didn’t work at all, the people on Skegness beach got to do the countdown for what they called “The Big Bang”. We were expecting a shower of impressive fireworks to be realised or an amazing firework with a BIG BANG. Instead it was a couple of standard rockets, literally two, of the type you let off in your back yard!!

HOW EMBARRASING FOR SKEGNESS to call it “The Big Bang”!!!. The Illumination where switched on at the same time, but for the people on the beach this was totally wasted since there are no illuminations on Skegness beach!

I think the Skegness Illuminations should have been turned on earlier in the evening (maybe when we were wandering around like idiots bored) or not included in the SO Festival at all, it just didn’t work and we believe Skegness council added the turning on of the illuminations to the SO Festival to save money (once again on the cheap).

Skegness SO Festival Conclusion

Our conclusion of the SO Festival is the event had it’s teething problems with organisation/information being the biggest issue, IT WASN’T GOOD AT ALL, but the SO Festival has great potential and it raised the bar for Skegness from the usual low standards of our out of date and forgotten holiday town to new heights.

Being a resident of Skegness I get sick to death of Skegness being seen as a gaudy run down seaside resort with no improvement, investments or initiatives being taken by councilor’s to improve the standards and appeal of the East Coast. The SO Festival was a bold move and raised the standard of Skegness attracting a higher class of holiday maker to our town which we need to attract and interest prestigious investors, and quality companies.

Festivals are the way forwards for Skegness and a bit of opera doesn’t harm anyone, but PLEASE organise them better and supply accurate and detailed programs of events.

We hope to see more SO type festivals in Skegness.

Marie Law