The Big Green Dispersion and Solfest 2009

Hello Good People who read this blog ,

(to anyone who read my Guilfest post, I have just added a video clip of Alice Armstrong at the end of it)

Just a note to say  that I just got an email from my son telling me that “The Big Green Gathering“, probably the official festival most like the older style alternative free festivals of the eighties , has been cancelled.

The Big Green Gathering really does represent  alternative hippie counterculture in all its creative and political forms, so it’s very sad.

Some footage of the Big Green Gathering one of many clips to be found on youtube but this one is particularly well put together.

Here is the notice from the BGG website:

Welcome to
The Big Green Gathering
The world’s premier and award winning Green Festival
Attitude Is Everything – Bronze Level Award
July 29th – 2nd August 2009
urgent message

Dear Friends,
following threatened injunction proceedings in High Court by Mendip District Council supported by Somerset & Avon Police and having taken extensive advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers, the directors of the Big Green Gathering have been left with no other option than to voluntarily surrender the license for the Big Green Gathering 2009. The event will now not take place and the directors’ advice and request is that no one intending to attend the event should attempt to do so, as the site is now closed and they are likely to be turned away by Somerset Police. It is our intention to avoid any form of confrontation or public disorder in regard to this and it is our earnest hope that all those involved will follow this advice. It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all those concerned. The Directors of The Big Green Gathering

This is a very last minute decision. I don’t fully understand why the festival has been banned by the local council and police.

According to the BBC , the festival is cancelled for safety reasons as well as crime. Is this the whole reason? Or is it to stop political subversives from meeting in large quantities?

see BBC website:

is it really that dangerous that it must be closed down?

It looks like a great way to socialise kids and help them to build for the future when the world will change through our abuse of it.

Here are some more highly dangerous and criminal activities at the BGG.Young people making their own films of the festival. These are fantastic.


Meanwhile I should be going to Solfest in Cumbria at the end of August( 28th -30th) ,after going to Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig at Porchester Halls in London the night before.

It’s a long way from London but still my favourite festival, the atmosphere is much friendlier than festivals in the south and people go there not to see any particular band but for the festival experience.Everyone is co-operative and creates a good atmosphere, Saturday is “Fancy Dress” day,which is always spectacular and inventive.

I recommend it for any hippies out there who can no longer go to The Big Green Gathering, but get your tickets early.

It only costs £85 for the weekend  including camping  and car with very limited tickets. You can get there easily from Carlisle by train and minibus.

from the Solfest website:

“Tickets for Solfest 2009 will be available from the following outlets:

  • The Carnegie Theatre, Workington, 01900 602122 (telephone and counter sales, cash and cards accepted)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Aspatria (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Wigton (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Silloth (over the counter cash sales only)

For Solfest 2009 there will be a total of 6500 adult tickets available. There will also be a total of 750 children’s tickets and 750 Young people’s tickets. When they are gone, they are gone!”

Although I said that it isn’t the bands that matter, the line-up includes The Charlatans who I saw do a great live gig at Guilfest. Other acts include The Orb, Kula Shaker, Adrian Edmonson and the Bad Shepherds, The Beat ( who I was told did a great set at Guilfest too), The Buzzcocks, the  Blockheads, Nerina Pallot, and many more.

Solfest has all the things lacking at Guilfest in terms of quality of festival-going experience.

A sample from last year’s Solfest , as part of the goings-on in the all night Dogs in Space chill out tent featuring a bit of  Tetchi who are billed to play again there this year (this film makes the tent look a lot darker than in real life, it was actually fairly bright in there).

Any comments on why you think The Big Gathering was cancelled?

Love and Peace


p.s. thanks to the UK Hippie Forum, I have found this update about what to do if you have a ticket.Is there a UK Beatnik Forum? and a UK Crusty Forum? and if not why not?

Next time a radio show I made about the songwriting communities of Open Mic clubs in London.

From BGG website ( note that Gong are playing the Big Chill keep referring to the BGG website for news, the Big Chill is a good place if you want a holiday but it’s nothing like the BGG experience in terms of  green anarchy, still I think  it’s good that they’ve done this, better that than leave people totally stranded)

Several other festivals have already approached us, offering to accept BIg Green Gathering tickets for their events. Some have placed no limit on the number of our ticket holders they will accept. Others have offered us a quota… and have told us that they will announce, on their websites, how many they can accomodate and how many places for BGG ticket holders they still have left. So far, if you have paid for a ticket (whether full price or concession) you will find it is definitely good for full admission to SUNRISE 2010 (late May 2010, Somerset) See website for details of how their BGG swap quota is standing and we are hoping, soon, to announce similar swap options for several festivals. Watch this space please.
If you are willing to pay an extra £20, you can swap your Big Green Gathering ticket for a ticket to the BIG CHILL. All you have to do is turn up at the gate of the Big Chill with your BGG ticket and your extra £20. We’ll have a stall there, and some of the same speakers who were on our bill (including Jonathan Cainer) will be in their Words In Motion tent. Also on the Big Chill bill are Max Romeo, Gong, Pharoah Sanders and Music from the Penguin Cafe, plus comedy from Noel Fielding, Tim Minchin, John Hegley, Josie Long and Rob Deering.
Click here for the link. Please note; the Big Chill is not yet a Green event but they do have a long history of supporting honourable causes including Amnesty International… and they are now starting to use more solar and wind power. Solar Aid have a presence there this year.
If you really want to make a gesture of faith and support… you can hold on to your ticket and we will honour it at the next Big Green Gathering, wherever and whenever it will be.
If we can avoid having to give too many straight refunds, it will help us survive. And if you are feeling extra-ordinarily generous, you can simply write to us telling us that you are ‘donating’ your ticket towards our survival fund.


  1. found this..
    Originally Posted by Atomik
    This is unbelievable. A good few of us who know a fair bit about what was going on with the BGG – and what a shambles it was – could have told you at least a month ago that it was likely to go under this year. We were accused of being negative, all kinds of excuses were made, and people didn’t listen. So what happens? It comes to pass, exactly as we predicted…. and people are still arguing that it’s not the fault of the organisers! The ability of hippies to bury their heads in the sand and deny reality never ceases to amaze me.

    (The reply now follows….)by ‘Big Green Bloke’

    I abhor the governments attitude towards festivals and the red tape that now surrounds them, but guess what? Festivals can still be run by fuckwits.
    Hi Folks. Regular poster here, using another name for reasons I won’t go into at the moment.

    I would like to clarify some of the stuff that has been going on over the last few days on site here at the BGG. I have been involved in the managerial level discussions trying to sort the issues, as someone who has been involved in the management of the event for the past 6 years.

    There were a couple of fuck ups by the directors, and some of the required paperwork was not as complete as it should have been. However this has been the situation in previous years and that did not stop the event.

    The FACTS are:
    There was a situation where Stuarts security (external security) did not wait for their payment on Wednesday before pulling out. The directors were at the bank getting the payment (they wanted most of their money up front) when Stuarts pulled out. The police say they have “a very close working relationship” with Stuarts.
    Stuarts are, according to the police “their preferred security contractor”
    The police then phoned round many of the other contractors questioning them as to whether they had been paid etc. This is unprecedented.

    They raised various issues regarding the management plan, all of which were satisfied by the directors.
    The sticking point ended up as being the road closures, which were applied for in the time window that was satisfactory to the Highways dept of Somerset, but technically was a couple of weeks too late – this was the issue that the licencing authority pulled the event up on, and was one of the main issues the injunction was issued on.

    Despite the fact that the event sucessfully ran on this site for the first two years with no road closures, and the full set of road closures was only implemented in 2007, the police and Mendip District council were adamant they were required, and that the police could not close the roads instead.

    The directors were give the option of surrendering the licence to prevent the High Court injunction from proceeding this morning. After legal advice from some of the countries top licencing lawyers they chose this route.

    At the meeting where the licence was surrendered the Chief Inspector present said that “the decisions to stop this event going ahead go well above my pay grade”… FACT. I was there.

    Now the situation is: there are loads of police manning roadblocks all around the Mendips, putting in place the road closures that they said they couldn’t do…

    Fuck ups by the directors – yes, one or two, but nothing worse that previous years, when the event went ahead (and has been a safe and secure event, with no major incidents or problems)
    Stitch up by the authorities and police – yes, whatever they could find to pick holes in at the last moment they did so, possibly for political reasons, we’re not sure.

    There will be no more Big Green Gatherings, however other things will come out of the mix. Watch this space…

  2. Hello Arthur (mix)

    Thanks for a wonderful detailed comment. It looks like there are many factors, and yes I’ve been told in the past that things can be very disorganised at the BGG but still it’s always managed somehow to get it together.
    I can’t help but think that if this festival was something approved of by the police and other authorities such as , I don’t know, some kind of high status event or an elitist sporting event, that rules would have been more flexible.
    Anyway I really appreciate your comment any more are welcome from any angle!
    Love and Peace

  3. Out of adversity comes change – judging by your photo at the top you should be aware of the way that alternative culture has been viewed for the last (make your own number) years. The closing down of the last “big one” must have been on the cards for a while…

    Anyway… the only way is to move on. How about a nice trip to the isle of wight this week? Support the occupation of britains only wind turbine manufacturer – under threat of closure. Seize the day (the band) are already there. Why not you?

    • Cheers for that!
      I have been following the wind turbine factory thing on the news. The Big Green Gathering has been so huge and amazing, that I guess it is amajor threat to mainstream society.
      But anyway, there still might be a BGG in 2010…but oh how are they going to repay all that money?
      Thanks for the comment interested bystander.

  4. I hope there will be more big green gatherings in future, it is a fantastic event which i have enjoyed since the early days at watchfield. The decision to stop this years event was a political one taken by the right wing mendip council. The council do not like anyone who does not support their right wing capitalist policies and as most festival goers are left wing and green and overall good human beings and intellectual enough to not be tories, the council can’t stand them and was determined to destroy bgg.

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