As we near summer, the advertisements for festivals are starting to become abundant throughout the papers, television and radio. Tickets are being snapped up faster than they can be printed. Some are sold out within minutes and most sold over a year ago.
Back home in New Zealand I remember festivals as sunny days, loud music, lots to eat and loads and loads more to drink, usually centered around a beach somewhere, but here in Scotland, festivals come in many different shapes, sizes and forms.
Throughout the UK there will be numerous festivals but in Scotland there will be sentiment, nostalgia and historic festivals.
"festival or gala - usually an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival”
Across this mighty country of gallant men and women there will be highland games and highland dancing, piping championships and many more small galas. There will be comedy festivals, food festivals, whiskey festivals, folk music festivals, Jazz festivals, theater and the arts festivals, book festivals, fire festivals and many Celtic events. There is a festival for almost any topic your heart may desire.
The crème del a crème of course being The Glasgow International Piping Festival, which New Zealand always enter, followed on by the Edinburgh Tattoo of which New Zealand is always a favorite.
Then there are the wacky traditions like,
"Up Helly Aa” – Held in the Shetland Islands, which have a rich Viking heritage. One thing the Vikings seemed to do well was throw a wild party. Viking sagas are full of stories of raids and marauding followed by lots of drinking and celebrating. Up Helly Aa is a 24 hour party that includes costumed Viking events throughout the day and culminates in a torchlight parade and the burning of a Viking long boat. The galley, which is then sent to a flaming inferno at sea, may have taken local Up Helly Aa associations four months or more to build. At least 5,000 spectators come to watch more than 1,000 torch carrying "Vikings", in silver plates and helmets, with heavy axes and shields, march the galley around the town.
But it isn’t just Scotland that does some of the more unusual festivals.
There are the more eccentric things like "Cheese Rolling”. I know, I know, who would have thought that rolling cheese would be such a huge and well known event. Forty thousand spectators congregate at Gloucester, to watch the traditional 7lb Gloucester cheese hurtle down a steep slope, pursued by dozens of running, rolling competitors, the fastest of whom wins the cheese. There are also a lot of injuries.
Yes, the festival adverts, signs and excitement instantly make you feel like summer is just around the corner with visions of long summer days and scalding temperatures to draw in the crowds. But of course in reality, we get torrential rain and hail in the middle of summer on a regular basis.
This year I will be working T in the Park. When I first heard about this festival I really did think it was a load of people getting together for a cup of tea in a park, but the T actually stands for Tennents Beer. It’s held over three days and is just like New Zealand’s old Sweetwater or Nambassa festivals.
This year, my work will be promoting and unfortunately I will endure, listening to all the bands, promoting fun and dancing, walking the entire event to chat to thousands and giving people a shot from a water pistol attached to my backpack, just to make sure they are sufficiently hydrated with clean water.
I’m not sure how I am going to cope with such a tall order, but I will endure this hardship called work.