Stendhal Festival ‘beyond all our expectations’

Craig Norton got in the spirit of things at the Stendhal festival outside Limavady at the weekend. (2108SJ5)
Craig Norton got in the spirit of things at the Stendhal festival outside Limavady at the weekend. (2108SJ5)

Judging by the rave reviews online for the Stendhal Festival of Music and Art outside Limavady at the weekend, organisers can breathe a huge sigh of relief the months of “flat out” hard work were worth it.

Festival-goers flooded social media to post their thoughts about the two-day event, in its second year.

Congratulatory comments on Facebook hailed the day a “great success” and a “fantastic family orientated event”.

“Take a bow forks! A warm welcome, family friendly, enjoyable campsite, great selection of food, beer... will be back again next year with a few more and a BIG thank you to the Sun God for gracing us with a fab couple of days! roll on 2013...thank you again” read one post on the Festival’s facebook page. Similar comments were also posted on Twitter, many from those who performed at the Festival.

One of the organisers, John Cartwright, said the response from festival goers and those who participated, including an army of volunteers, was “incredible”.

“It was beyond all expectations that we had,” he told the ‘Journal’ yesterday. “We were flat to floor on Friday and Saturday, but chatting over everything and seeing all the comments on Facebook and Twitter, everyone seemed to really love it.”

Alongside Ross Parkhill and Colm O’Donnell, the Stendhal team attracted visitors from all over Europe, America and Australia and the south of Ireland. The festival was set up in an idyllic spot of the Roe Valley at John’s family farm, outside Limavady.

“It takes so long to set everything up, yet it was over in the blink of any eye,” he said, adding an estimated 2-3,000 people were on site, including festival staff and volunteers, during the weekend. They also pulled in visitors from all over the North, while their youngest visitor was four-week-old Lily Steen.

One of the comments on Facebook said the Festival has “another lifetime family here”, which is exactly what organisers hope for.

Among the highlights of the Festival was friend of Jimi Hendrix and legendary guitarist Henry McCullough, who pulled in a huge crowd.

After taking a well-earned break, it won’t be long until the team is organising next year’s festival.

“It’s been a lot of very hard work, which we couldn’t have done without all the volunteers, who I want to say a special thank you to. Just seeing the reaction to the festival has been incredible and we’ve also had great weather two years in a row, so we’re very lucky!

“Going forward we also want to become a lot more involved in community programmes and maybe start a few of our own. We are delighted to be involved with Paddy Nash and the Limavady Musicians’ Collective. Ross sits on the board of the Limavady Arts and Heritage Committee, we have recently collaborated with Paul Beattie and a host of local creative minds to try and secure funding for the creative sector in Limavady and have provided a wee bit of sponsorship to the Lifelong Learning Institute.

“The Festival itself may only be one weekend of the year but we intend on getting involved in a lot of local activities all year long.

“ That’s something that we are all very much looking forward to.”