Our Creative Director, Paul Northup waxes lyrical about Greenbelt’s Scottish sibling festival, Solas.
It’s a month to go now until Solas Festival returns to the fields at Errol Park in Scotland. Solas was birthed out of the fertile soil of Greenbelt way back in the noughties, along with Wild Goose Festival in the USA.
We’re pleased and proud to be part of a ‘family’ of festivals. Each of these gatherings is different to Greenbelt. And that’s important. We’re not in the business of building a festival empire, launching a franchise or even just cut-and-pasting what we do. Instead, we want to inspire and encourage others to incarnate something of our three-stranded Greenbelt DNA – of artistry, activism and belief – where they are, in their context. Which will necessarily mean that each version of our small family of festivals will have its own unique characteristics, while still sharing something of the family resemblance.
Having had the joy of being at Solas a couple of times, I love everything about it. It’s small and intimate, but because of the way Scotland’s cultural, political and religious life works, it seems to sit right at the heart of all the important conversations about how the people of Scotland should live for the common good. It is recognised and respected, dare I say, in a way that Greenbelt – perhaps swimming in a bigger pond – seems to struggle to be. Far from any sense of ‘sour grapes’, this is one of the many things I love about Solas and that gives me immense pride when I think about the gathering there and those who make it.
In the early days of Solas, Greenbelt gave a very modest annual seed-funding grant to help it get established. But after only a few years, Solas stood, fiercely independent, on its own two feet. And it has continued to do so ever since.
Just as for Greenbelt, the pandemic has meant two long summers without a festival for Solas, and so they share that same mix of nervousness and excitement as they return as we do at Greenbelt.
I’d encourage anyone and everyone to make the journey if they can – treat it like a mid-summer pilgrimage, if you will. Or at least tell your fiends and family north of the border to check it out.
It’s a wonderfully warm and inclusive all-age gathering with heady blend of art, music, conversation, provocation and reflection. Some of our Greenbelt volunteers also volunteer at Solas each year, lending their experience and enthusiasm to the event.
I’d recommend you grab a ticket and go. You won’t regret it. And, who knows, if might become a ‘thing’ to do – to get to all the various Greenbelt-like family of festivals there are out there. Collect a stamp at each perhaps? We could introduce a Greenbelt ‘passport’ of sorts. Now, there’s an idea! Especially if we also include festivals in Holland (Graceland), Norway (Olafsfest) and Poland (SLOT) who we enjoy close relations and a sense of vision with, too.
But for now, here’s to Solas! May your return to the fields in just one month be glorious.
For more information and tickets, visit solas.co.uk