The typical Scottish weather couldn’t escape the fields of East Kirkcarswell, Dundrennan over the weekend as 15,000 revellers sunbathed then ran for shelter from downpours at the 2014 Wickerman Festival.
With temperatures topping 29°C on Friday, music fans were seen soaking up the sunshine across the festival site as they experienced 10 stages of varying music, entertainment and children’s fun for the 13th such festival.
Although numbers at the Galloway site were down on last year’s sell-out 20,000-strong crowd, with the Commonwealth Games taking place less than two hours away this was to be expected.
Opening the weekend was Isle of Whithorn sisters, The Mermaids, with a beautiful set of their melodic tunes which are soaring them through the local music scene. With the sun beating down, the crowd around the Summerisle Stage for their show was more than expected for the opening slot. Other locals performing included Finding Albert who heralded their usual scores of supporters and Zoe Bestel who managed once again to fill the acoustic tent, perhaps offering more than just a hint to festival organisers that she’s worthy of graduating to the main stage next year.
The surprise hit of the day came from Skinny Lister whose sounds saw festival-goers flock down the hill for a listen.
Motown wonders Martha Reeves and Vandellas had everyone dancing with their favourite hits dressed in a dazzling band of sequins before Alabama 3 returned to the festival for a third time with their lively set, warmly welcomed by the crowd. Shed Seven also roused Britpop memories in those old enough to remember their biggest hits.
And those who managed to push through the sweltering heat enjoyed what was arguably one of the festival’s most energetic Friday headliner sets to date from UK hip hop star Dizzee Rascal.
Bouncing onto the stage, Dizzee welcomed the auidence with: “We’re in Scotland so I already know we’re going to have a great time.”
And with the sun having finally dipped to give the crowd some respite, his well-known favourites had the site jumping and the glitter cannons, streamers and lasers were met with screams from an appreciative audience. The relentless energy from the chart-topping rapper really brought the site alive and even had the odd cynic shuffling their feet on the sidelines.
The heat of the previous day had dissipated when the sea of campers awoke on Saturday, though the humidity was still strong and the clouds only partly covered the sharp sun. But with another full day of music and fun to be had, campers soon made their way to the main arena to see what musical offerings were in store.
The Scooter tent served up an energetic line-up, with Cockney Rejects and The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra raising the tent roof at the end of the festival day. The line-up of rousing traditional Scottish music in the Lowland Links tent created one of the biggest parties of the day, with brilliant new talents The Amazing Snakeheads and Hector Bizerk packing out the Solus tent as the festival came to a close.
Creetown Silver Band commanded a large crowd in the Lowland Links tent and were applauded into an encore, while local writer Jayne Baldwin gave a talk on her latest book about Mary Timney, the last woman to be publicly executed in Scotland.
And as the sun made its last appearance to make way for brooding rain clouds, Big Country brought everyone into the evening’s party mood with a crowd-pleasing set of fast-paced tunes. As the temperature dropped and the rain slowly began, it seemed everyone headed back to their tents to don their waterproofs as British Sea Power took to the stage, leaving the crowd a bit on the thin side. But with the inevitable downpours came the returning audience for The Feeling who had everyone dancing and barely noticing the heavy rain.
Del Amitri took the final slot of the evening before the burning of the very Scottish wicker man at midnight. Opening with one of their best-known hits, Last To Know went down a treat and set the pace for the rest of the evening. Their hour and a half set drew everyone from the campsites and even halted the rain.
And before Utah Saints took to the stage for their post-midnight DJ set, the 15,000-strong swell of people headed to the hillside to witness the burning of the 40-ft effigy as had become traditional for the festival, followed by a beautiful three-minute firework display.