What happened at Boing! Festival 2016

Our Intern Jade went along to Kent’s International Family Festival, Boing! And here’s what happened…

Tucked away tidily in the heart of Canterbury, Boing! Festival returned with a jam packed programme. Organised and hosted by the Gulbenkian Theatre, Boing! is a fun, family festival. Stewards donning rabbit ears are always on hand to direct the way to all the child-friendly activities nestled in amongst the University of Kent’s grounds of greenery. But don’t be fooled – Boing! isn’t just for kids. In fact, by making an effort to cater for families, Boing! actually manages to provide entertainment for just about everyone. We should know – we were there.

Having the festival spread out across a university campus is a great idea. It’s easy to access, the views are fantastic and the layout means it feels safe and sufficiently spacious simultaneously. It takes a while to get your bearings but there are a colony of enthusiastic volunteers on hand ready and willing to help. (Google, on the other hand, was a little less willing to provide a definitive answer as to what the collective noun would be for stewards dressed as rabbits).

With the early Saturday sun bearing down on the already cheerful campus, Boing! hopped gently into action. Offering a combination of free and ticketed events, a number of them took place over the stretch of both day, such as “My England”, a gallery of work created by young refugees now living in Kent. The gallery displays a series of photographs taken on disposable cameras. It seems odd to imagine still 2D images evoking a recognisable emotive response but the photos have unmistakeably captured a sense of excitement, as unfamiliar eyes rake over a new and foreign land. In contrast, the 3D creation of “Home Town” took place over the stretch of the entire campus. Numerous cardboard houses could be found whilst walking around the festival, all waiting patiently to be inhabited by anyone passing by. Not only were they a great spectacle and the product of great work by Animate Arts UK, the houses also provided the littlest of the attendees with some much needed respite from the sun’s roasting rays!

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With food and drinks available across the festival grounds and a selection of great stalls by the Student Makers Market, there was also the opportunity for kids big and small to try parkour, to buy flower crowns and to get their faces painted into an assortment of colourful designs. At various times during the day, the free performances would begin and crowds drew quickly, bringing rapturous applause. Some of the highlights included incredible acrobatic feats by Ex Aequo, an agile and diligent duo, and a delightful mobile boat with a fully functioning rain cloud attached to it, as part of All At Sea. It was a shame a couple of acts were unable to perform on the first day of the festival due to injuries but the eclectic mix of performances from the ART31 stage, which echoed right across the campus, more than maintained the day’s momentum.

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The ART31 stage presented an arrangement of performance-based pieces which covered the majority of the day. The set itself had a colourful festival vibe and though the crowds started small, they certainly grew as the day progressed. Between acoustic covers, well-rehearsed rap and sequences of superb spoken word poetry, the stage was swathed with young local performers. Despite some early technical issues, vocal artist Elijah Femi took the time to finish his set of personally produced rap songs and a dance troupe performed their hauntingly contemporary piece, Salem to a rapt audience. There was also great music from Mitch Emery, Anna Palmer, Gray Risby to name just a few, and a notable mention to Alex Vellis, whose evocative poetry might have been Ideas Test’s personal performance of the day.

Here at Ideas Test we aim to encourage people to live more creative lives and if Boing! Festival was anything to go by, there’s certainly a great appetite for home-grown creativity.

Boingfestival.com