The small town of Bury has given a lot to the North West over the years. From black puddings to a world-famous market, the birthplace of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel has punched above its weight. But if there’s one part of Bury’s social calendar that always draws a crowd, it’s the annual Glaston-BURY music festival.
Held every August Bank Holiday Monday, the punnily named event has been a town staple since 2007. What began as a couple of bands in a pub has evolved into a Bury-wide musical celebration of local talent, featuring over 120 bands across 13 venues in 2019. The festival is built on community spirit, creating a musical circle of bands and fans from Ramsbottom and Whitefield to Radcliffe and Prestwich, with each year seeing more visitors than the last.
But it’s not just an excuse to nip down the local, get drunk and listen to your dad’s mate’s band. Not in the slightest. Though the booze and the music are a plus, Glaston-BURY has always had charity at heart. Over the past 13 years, the festival has raised more than £170,000 for Bury Hospice through entry fees alone – and that support isn’t ending anytime soon.
So, with the Bank Holiday just around the corner, the festival team and its performers should be ready and raring to go, right? Well, yes, but not in the usual fashion.
As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on the live performance industry, with some of the country’s biggest festivals – including the actual Glastonbury- being cancelled. But the team at Glaston-BURY aren’t going down without a fight – as long as it’s within COVID restriction guidelines, of course.
Enter the Glaston-BURY Front Room Festival: a virtual event allowing you to enjoy the Bury-based festivities from the comfort of your own home. The brains behind this operation is 43-year-old Chris Buckley, the organiser of the festival since its humble beginnings. He says that even though Glaston-BURY’s cancellation was “inevitable”, he wasn’t satisfied with letting this year pass him by.
“Over the last three months, we’d been doing a virtual Glaston-BURY – Live in your Living Room – on a Saturday night and it went down really well. So, I went, ‘we’ve done that once, why can’t we do it again?’ And that’s when we had the idea for the Front Room Festival.”
One Facebook poll to check for engagement later and Buckley’s idea was set in motion. Starting on Monday at 12.45pm and going on until 9pm, the online event will be streamed live via the Glaston-BURY Facebook page, featuring 16 hand-picked festival favourites like Broken Biskits and the Steve Ferringo Band.
Buckley hopes that the stream will encourage people to “have their own household party” and embody the “jovial atmosphere” the festival has managed to maintain for more than a decade. And if you’re not keen to stay in this Bank Holiday, take note that the event will also be broadcast in some of Bury’s pubs, thereby allowing people to give back to the local economy while still getting their musical fix.
Despite the new format, Glaston-BURY’s heart is still with its community. The event will be dedicated to well-known taxi driver Suliman Khan and beloved doctor Saad Al-Dubhaisi, both of whom passed away from coronavirus earlier in the year. There will also be a JustGiving page set up for people to donate to Bury Hospice, whether they’re watching the stream or not.
Buckley says: “There’s been a lot of online events asking for money in a time where people don’t have a lot of it. The bands will have to name-drop the page, but there’s not a lot we can do but hope that people are in a charitable mood.”
Though this year’s festival may not have packed-out streets and music heard from miles away, it’ll still be raising money for a good cause and reuniting regulars with local talent.
“We don’t know if we’ll have 150 people, 50 people, 1,000 people – we’re just grateful for whoever supports us and we hope that they’ll enjoy it.”
If you want to learn more about the festival and see the full line-up, visit the Glaston-BURY website here: http://www.glaston-bury.com/
It takes place 12.45pm until 9pm on August Bank Holiday Monday.