Well, what can I say? My college and university days came back to me last weekend in an amazing happy boom. When I first received the press release about The Farm and The Lightning Seeds headlining at the Dartford Festival, I bored my husband senseless with their songs and my memories.

Andy Barnes Photography

They didn’t disappoint! We got there early to make sure we had a good place, which was pointless really because as soon as The Farm began I was off down the front on my own and met some great people. The mood was fantastic, the band were fantastic, everything was fantastic. Nostalgia ten-fold and then more some. The Farm completely embraced the atmosphere and seemed to enjoy it as much as the audience, which was a massive age-range – children on shoulders, women on shoulders, men on shoulders (I may have imagined that bit). Everyone with massive smiles on their faces and completely embracing the moment.

Andy Barnes Photography

Then, we had The Lightning Seeds, what can I say? Blew my socks off, well, metaphorically as I was wearing sandals but…They looked happy to be there, everyone in the audience was definitely happy to be there, and you could feel it in the air. The Lightning Seeds rocked it and you could see that everyone watching it did too. I found my new friends again (“Jo, it’s you again! This is a brilliant festival!”) and danced my old Indie-Girl socks off. I don’t think I have grinned so much in years.

The festival itself was well-planned, accessible and relaxed. We had a minor emergency near the end of Saturday early-evening when my husband decided to decamp with our daughter without telling us. The security team were brilliant, patient and utterly in control. We did find them in the fair and he got a fair telling off, but the team kept me calm and knew what they were doing, they were amazing.

So after the minor scare and a fantastic day we headed home.

I woke up the next day already excited about watching Who Are You UK later. They didn’t disappoint, absolutely fantastic. It was like watching The Who circa 1987 (I imagine, I was only 11 then!). The atmosphere at Central Park was the same as the day before, relaxed, in-control and had the hint of great things to come in the air. It didn’t disappoint. I was back at the front, again, the audience were living and loving it, the band were loving it, and my mouth was still hurting from grinning so much from the day before.

I talked to some great people, everyone wanted to be there and we were all so proud of the fact that The Dartford Festival is still going and free. Well done Dartford Council, you have earned a Brownie Badge this year. Unfortunately, I had to go soon after watching Who Are You UK as I was off to see Singalonga Bohemian Rhapsody at The Orchard Theatre that evening (whole other fantastic story).

Andy Barnes Photography

Sometimes you need a bit of brilliant entertainment to remember who you really are and what you enjoy. The Dartford Festival gave that to me in abundance this year, and for that, I thank you…There are loads of other bands that I haven’t had the time to mention, and the Community Stage is something for us Dartfordians to be proud of, so much great local talent, so much support and so much fun! Everyone excelled themselves this year.

All credits for these photographs go to Andy Barnes Photography.

Well done Dartford, well done Dartford Council, hats off to every single band and talent that perfomed this weekend. My mouth is still hurting from the grinning and I am so proud of our town. Outstanding. It’s coming home, it’s coming home…