Just days to go before St Albans' Meraki Festival - are you excited yet?
PUBLISHED: 16:35 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:05 09 August 2017
The stage is in place, the bars are stocked, and the first tents are set to go up today, as St Albans prepares for a weekend of family fun at the district's first major music festival.
Two years in the planning, Meraki is an all-inclusive community event taking place at the Herts County Showground from Friday through to Sunday.
Featuring a line-up of top names including Tony Hadley, Belinda Carlisle, Bonnie Tyler, Lemar, Jason Donovan, Odyssey and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, plus the cream of local musical talent, the festival is also supported by local businesses including Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, Dylan’s, Farr Brewery and The Pudding Stop.
Other attractions include a spa, massage tents, restaurants, and a zipwire over the site. Saturday night is carnival night, with a masquerade carnival vibe sweeping across the showground, including a Day of the Dead party in the Dylan’s area, and visitors will be encouraged to wear masks and costumes to get into the spirit of things.
The showground will be split into various areas including The Enchanted Forest, The Serenity Spa, Mr Peeble’s Music House, The Mad Hatter’s Maze and The Virtual Reality Beach, offering much more than just live music.
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With a focus on family-friendly events, the weekend will see TV’s Mr Bloom making a special appearance on the Friday, and the Flying Seagull Project performing a variety of shows across the weekend, including Perilous Pirates, Seagull Storytellers, Wild West Hoedown and Barmy Balloons.
The Herts Advertiser spoke to Meraki organiser Kerry Marks on Tuesday after a tour of the site, by which time many of the tents and stages were in the process of being constructed.
She explained what festival-goers have to look forward to: “Meraki is the first major festival in St Albans and it’s packed with not only music from amazing artists, but we have a giant dance tent with an LED dome, two live big open-air music stages, nine bars, LOADS of toilets, and the whole site is set up as a luxury boutique festival.
“We designed it around the people of St Albans from the research we carried out, and the festival itself is all about community areas where everyone can connect and be together.
“Our festival is all-inclusive, so when everybody gets in all they have to worry about is their food and drink, so their massages, the swimming pools, all of the activities are all included. So that means when you get into the festival mood money’s not involved, you can just have fun, enjoy it and come together as a community in one place.”
One of the last-minute additions to the bill is Dan Gillespie Sells, lead singer and guitarist from rock band The Feeling, who will join headliners The Meraki Allstars on the Saturday night.
Famous for their smash-hit tracks Sewn, Never Be Lonely, Fill My Little World and I Love It When You Call, The Feeling first began climbing the charts in 2005, and have since toured America, Japan and beyond. Highlights include the group’s performances at Wembley Stadium and the Pyramid Sstage at Glastonbury Festival.
The five-piece from Horsham, West Sussex took a hiatus last Christmas following their October tour, stating: “Last night marked the last show that we’ll play together for a long time.
“Whilst we truly believe that it’s not over, it’s the end of a long and extraordinary chapter of our lives.”
Dan will form a supergroup with Mitchel Emms from The Voice and Nim Miller of The Faithettes on the big stage.
For full details on available facilities, what you can’t bring to the festival site, fashion tips, profiles on performers and details on charity partners, visit the Herts Ad website at www.hertsad.co.uk
We will have a team of reporters in attendance all weekend, so follow the Herts Advertiser on Facebook for exclusive backstage content and updates from the event.
We’d also love to see your festival pictures, so please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll run as many as we can next week.
Join in our Meraki social media community by using the hashtag #MerakiMemories when posting updates.