Saddleworth has it going on. There’s a celebration every weekend in this part of the world, not least Cotton Clouds Festival which has now become a highlight of summertime revelry. Popular with locals and clearly attracting crowds from elsewhere, the festival has tuned into the love of merry-making in the area with an event that, three years in, still maintains a mix of ages.
There’s a great inclusive atmosphere at the festival, partly because Saddleworth’s full summer calendar always pulls in an eclectic crowd. I feared Saturday would be torrential since Friday’s weather was dreadful, but the elements were kind and the sun shone for most of the time.
Cotton Clouds is big enough to attract a stellar line-up but small enough to be able to mooch around and not miss anything. A tight ship was run this year and with constant cleaners preventing people from stumbling over rubbish and the beer tents ticking over nicely it was whinge-free.
Tim Peake’s Diner could may be do with a bigger tent next year though, as it is a popular space and Hyde Park Brass’s set was rammed with only room to bob up and down carefully to their soulful parping.
Carnival arts organisation Global Grooves were again a beautiful addition, floating through the crowds with huge ornate elephants’ heads bowing to giggling kids.
On the main stage I loved OMG It’s The Church, a cover band with a James Brown growling pastor parody glitteringly daft and praising sexy Jesus. They lifted the mood when it was too early for tipsiness and the clouds were making empty threats. Later, The House and Garage Orchestra gave a symphony of classic old school tunes and artists including 3 Of A Kind’s Nicholas Gallante performing Baby Cakes. Then there was the collective worship of Reverend and the Makers before finally The Wailers helped to end the evening with us all chanting peace and love under the starry sky.
Images by Carl Gibson.cottoncloudsfestival.com