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Summer is fast approaching, so it’s time to start planning your festival scheduled for 2014. But have you considered slipping in a cheeky one day festival? They are often cheaper, cleaner and if you choose wisely they can even give you a richer musical experience. Behind The Castle, is a new one day festival which shall be held in the historical grounds of Sherborne Castle, Dorset. With three stages, 14 acts, including four headline acts, the day is set to be a triumph. Sole creator Ian Lyster, met with us over a few pints to explain how he has gone from music fan to festival organizer.

I have a love for music but know I will never be a good enough musician to make it a professional career, promoting seemed like the next logical area to move into.  I set up my company (Upturned Pebble Ltd) in 2012 after being made redundant from my job as a radio producer. The first event I set up was the North Dorset Folk Festival, this is an indoor festival with a capacity of 90 people. I then went on to create the Marnhull Acoustic Sessions, which is a monthly music night. The standard of music is exceptionally high at these two events but I have deliberately tried to kept the events small. I wanted to use them as practice, learning from them before committing to a bigger festival.  Fortunately they have both been successful and continue to run.


Behind The Castle has been in the planning for about eighteen months. I approached Sherborne Castle with an open mind because we needed a plan that would work for us both. I would have loved to make Behind The Castle  a three day festival, but it was agreed that one day would be more suitable. Now I know how much work is involved with a one day festival, I’m sure a three day festival would have killed me. I’m 26 years old and this is my first festival, I don’t have a team working with me I’m doing this entirely by myself with no external help. I have had  a lot of experience working at festivals including Purbeck Folk Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival, but nothing could prepare me for how much work is involved when creating a festival from scratch.


My experience of working at folk festivals has given people (who know me) the preconception that Behind The Castle is a folk festival. But it’s not, the only two acts that I would class as folk are Cara Dillon and Seth Lakeman. Megan Henwood won the young folk award in 2009 but I would not say she’s folk. She has been  influenced by folk but her songs are very radio friendly.  I think ‘acoustic’ is a much more appropriate way to describe my festival, and in fact this is how I would describe my other events. But however people choose to describe this festival they can not dispute that this festival is all about the music. This is not going to be a festival with distractions like trinket and treatment stalls, the music will be the single most important thing. If you come to this festival you’re coming to listen to music. We have 4 headline acts on the same stage on the same day. When these Headline acts perform the two other stages will close, ensuring the festival gives its full attention to these four amazing artists. Including Paul Brady, who has been my one selfish booking, every festival organizer has a selfish booking and Paul Brady is mine. In my opinion he is the greatest living songwriter. Whether I get to see his performance or not is another matter, a festival is an outdoor event and outdoor events tend not to go to plan. If the weather is bad I will most certainly be busy, but I do hope to get out and about and try to experience some of the festival. I want the opportunity to speak with people at the festival, I want to try and get a feel for the festival, this is the best way to learn what I can do next year to improve, that’s hoping I get to do it all again next year.