As You Like It Festival – A Huge Success!
Having returned from working at the As You Like It Festival, Stratford-Upon-Avon we wanted share an insight into how enjoyable and magical it was!
As the great bard himself said, ‘All the world’s a stage and the men and women are merely players.’ Well, there were certainly plenty of “players” on the stage at this unique Costa Del Folk festival. Shakespeare also said, ‘Be great in act, as you have been in thought.’ One thing is certain – the guys behind Costa del Folk followed this inspirational quote. They have already announced that the As You Like It Festival will be returning next year which was received by the audience that attended this year with rapturous applause.
Set in the grounds of the stunning 16th century Walton Hall, situated within 65 acres of beautiful rolling English countryside, just outside Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon; this brand-new country garden festival was held over four nights and three days at the end of July.
Understandably, given the covid situation, the Costa del Folk team couldn’t hold the usual annual festivals in Ibiza and Portugal. And so, the As You Like It festival was born!
A hotel-based garden festival seemed just the ticket for a midsummer music celebration, and with gorgeous grounds to enjoy and the attractions of Stratford Upon Avon, Leamington Spa and Warwick Castle close by, there was much to see and do besides enjoying some of the best live music around.
With exclusive use of the contemporary hotel and coach house, alongside apartments and luxurious suites in the Grade II listed Walton Hall, there were plenty of accommodation options for attendees. The fantastic service provided by the staff at the hotel was second to none. They really couldn’t do enough for the guests and the team, even though the hotel had only been open for a few days and most of the staff were new to their roles.
As usual with a Costa del Folk festival the programme was packed – four days of live music gigs outdoors, ceilidhs, ukulele, and traditional tunes workshops. There were sessions at Busker Corner, and late sessions in the Folk Bar with Tim Edey – everybody that attended experienced the magic of these impromptu sessions. Each evening guests were invited onto the stage, including Simon Care, Gerry Colvin, Rob Murch, Phil Beer, and many more fabulous artists as well Gerry Flynn, who blew the audience away with his harmonium playing, as well as his near-to-the-knuckle jokes!
Predictably, the good old English summer weather made an impression. An electrical storm and hailstorm meant that a gig had to abruptly halted and brought indoors. Thankfully, due to the hard work and professionalism of the Harmony Voyages team, disruption was kept to an absolute minimum. The sound system was turned around incredibly quickly. Full credit must go to the amazing crew, volunteers, and hotel staff who worked tirelessly to put everything in place so quickly.
As you would expect with any Costa del Folk event, many fabulous acts took centre stage and the tone of the event was set by Show of Hands, who kicked off the festival on the Monday evening with their usual brilliance. They performed a range of favourites as well as their new track, ‘The Best One Yet’ – a post-lockdown anthem celebrating the joy of festivals and the great outdoors. Unsurprisingly, it had a particular resonance for this occasion.
Costa del Folk favourites Edward II managed to get almost everyone up dancing, as they always do by performing many of their older tunes and some from their latest album “Dancing Tunes” – a selection of songs collected from the fields of Jamaica at the start of the last century, repackaged in the fabulous Edward II style You couldn’t listen to them without your toes tapping at the very least – they rocked that field!
Gigspanner Big Band finished the event off in style with their riotous inventiveness and subtle collaborative interaction. These gifted artists created beautiful arrangements. It doesn’t get much better than these five guys!
The As You Like It festival was a new UK Hotel based folk festival – and was much needed by all concerned: the Costa del Folk team, the artists, the crew, the hotel, and – most importantly – the guests.
As one guest put it, ‘Massive well done to you all. Great line up, excellent organisation. This was my first experience of the ‘Costa’ Festivals. I will be back – in one country or another! IT WAS MAGICAL!’
Thoughts now turn to other new UK Hotel-based folk festival – the Aviemore Folk Festival in December, which will be based at the MacDonald Aviemore Hotel, nestled in the Cairngorms National Park.
You can expect the same attention to detail and level of service that you already associate with a Costa del Folk Festival. But this event will have an extra sprinkling of magic. If you are thinking of a low-key sedate festival, forget it! Aviemore Folk Festival in December 2021 is going to be full of amazing experiences, superb music, festive activities and, above all, fun and friendship.
For more information on all the upcoming festivals and holidays visit: