Freedom Community Festival
Freedom Community Festival is back on Saturday 28 May, with 9 events and 40 bands at 5 venues across Plymouth
Freedom Community Festival is back for another year! The 6-day festival features 9 events at 5 venues, starting on Saturday 28th May at Freedom Fields Park with great music, food and family fun.
This community festival in the heart of Plymouth hosts a range of events and activities across Mutley, Greenbank and Freedom Fields. It attracts thousands of local people, some of whom are event volunteers, performers or stall holders, but largely they are public attendees of this week long community festival of exciting and diverse events. The event is perhaps best known for Freedom Fields Festival, the showpiece event on Freedom Park that just gets better each year!
The History of the Event
The festival has been running since 2000 on Freedom Fields Park, beginning as a weekend music event to celebrate the success of a Heritage Lottery Funding application. This was achieved by the Friends of Freedom Fields Park, with support from Plymouth City Council and local residents. Like all good things, it grew in popularity and its reputation as a relaxed, family friendly event has attracted more and more people each year.
In 2005 the festival became ‘Big Days in the Park’, then in 2007 the festival linked up with the Mutley Greenbank Network and the festival became ‘Mutley Greenbank Festival’. This is when the festival became more than just a music event and involved more events and activities throughout the week.
By 2013 the festival changed its name to Freedom Community Festival and since then it has been a six-day festival with events for all ages. Freedom Fields Music Festival remains the main attraction and expands each year.
In 2015 the festival attracted more people than ever; it is thought that over 8,000 people attended the event over the Freedom Fields Festival weekend alone. The atmosphere, the music, and the community spirit was electric and the feedback received was just reward for the hard work involved in making it happen.
Success may be judged by more than just volume of attendees. The festival attracts over 40 volunteers, some of those sit on the planning committee, and others may be student volunteers who help with specific tasks such such as promotion and marketing. The festival also attracts many volunteers who support the running of each event, not to mention those who post flyers across the area and help tidy up when it is all over.
The 30 plus bands and performers we have each year all play for free, and the festival’s reputation is such that unfortunately this year we had turn away some brilliant bands who wanted to play due to incredible demand. The overriding success of this festival is just how much can be achieved with such a small amount of money. There is a great deal of good will, and enormously passionate people who support this festival; it really does show off the best of Plymouth!
Naturally, the festival isn’t without its challenges, the aforementioned shoe string budget means that it is always an ‘interesting’ challenge to find the finances to make things happen, but it always falls in to place. This is thanks to the many volunteer enquiries the committee get each year through Facebook and the website; so many people want to get involved and want to help, it really is fantastic.
Ideas always play a part when planning the festival – the committee has grand ideas, and these inevitably need to be scaled down as our capacity has limitations. The festival is planned by a group of people who fit their voluntary efforts in around busy lives. That said, the rewards are great and the team take great pride in being involved in something that is celebrated across Plymouth.
The Future of the Event
The future is very bright, the planning team is growing and awareness of the event is also spreading. Interest from bands from outside Plymouth and even Devon has increased and grander plans are afoot for the coming years.
What to Expect in 2016
This year we have 9 events, 40 bands across 5 locations. This is the first year the festival has had funding from the Big Lottery Fund, which has been an amazing help. Support from partner organisations has been invaluable as ever and the festival is working with Open Hearts Open Boarders to extend Freedom Fields Festival from its traditional Saturday (28th May) and Sunday into Monday, which has been named ‘International Day’.
We welcome back festival regulars Mad Dog Mcrea (Mon), Dubclass (Sun), and the Scribes (Sat) and amongst others we welcome new performers Manuska (Sat), San Fula (Sat), The Dandy Jams (Sun) and Breakout (Sun). There over 30 bands performing over the weekend, including celebrated speakers and spoken word performers (Mon), not to mention the fabulous food and stalls and loads of fun activities for the kids.
Across the week, activities include, Community Market Garden, Spoken Word evening, Family Fun Day, History Walk, Acoustic Night and two great events for the older generation.
We have it on good authority that the sun is going to shine all week, so it should be brilliant festival and we look forward to see you all there!
Big Thanks to
• All our partners
• Local people who kindly tolerate the noise
• The thousands of people who come along and join in the fun
Visit the website to find out more www.freedomcommunityfestival.com
“It is like a community, people are laughing, you feel safe and that’s what I like about it” – festival goer
“I have been coming here since I was really small with my Mum……I keep coming back now with friends” – seasoned festival goer
“What I like about the Festival is everyone comes out of the woodwork, great to catch up with friends, family and old faces you haven’t seen for ages” – festival goer