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|Dates||August Bank holiday weekend|
|Location(s)||Prospect Farm Charsfield (1974)|
Odell Castle (1975–1981)
Knebworth Park (1982–1983)
Castle Ashby (1984–1992)
Deene Park (1993–1998)
Cheltenham Racecourse (1999–2013)
Boughton House (2014–2019)
Greenbelt Festival is a festival of arts, faith and justice held annually in England since 1974. Greenbelt has grown out of an evangelical Christian music festival with an audience of 1,500 young people into its current form, a more inclusive festival attended at its peak around 2010 by around 20,000, including Christians and those from other faiths.
The festival regularly attracts the biggest names of Christian music and many mainstream musicians. Those that have played the festival in the past include both new and established musicians, mostly playing rock, folk and pop music. This list encompasses The Alarm, U2, Moby, Pussy Riot, Cliff Richard, Bruce Cockburn, Ed Sheeran, Martyn Joseph, Steve Taylor, Daniel Amos, Phatfish, Servant, Midnight Oil, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Over the Rhine, Iona, Amy Grant, Miles Cain, Lamb, Kevin Max, Lambchop, Goldie, Jamelia, After the Fire, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Asian Dub Foundation, The Polyphonic Spree, Aqualung, Dum Dums, The Proclaimers, Daniel Bedingfield, Eden Burning, Duke Special, Why?, Athlete, Sixpence None the Richer, The Choir, and Delirious?.
Greenbelt is also a venue for teaching and discussion about (but not exclusively within) the Christian faith, and has attracted number of Christian speakers, including Rowan Williams (the former archbishop of Canterbury) who is currently the festival's patron. However, the festival also welcomes anyone who the organisers believe 'speaks for justice', and has recently had Anita Roddick, Peter Tatchell, Bill Drummond, and Billy Bragg sharing their thoughts.
More recently with its links to the NGO Christian Aid, Greenbelt has become heavily involved in campaigns for trade justice. The festival was one of the main catalysts for the huge Jubilee 2000 movement. Greenbelt is also a Christian showcase for performing arts, visual arts and alternative worship.
Greenbelt is a nomadic festival which has so far been held at seven different locations in England. While the venue has changed, the core event has remained the same: a celebration of faith, justice and arts with a particular Christian perspective.
The first Greenbelt Festival was held on a pig farm just outside the village of Charsfield near Woodbridge, Suffolk over the August 1974 bank holiday weekend, begun by Jim Palosaari, Kenneth Frampton, and James Holloway. Local fears concerning the festival in the weeks running up to it proved to be unfounded, but the festival didn't return to the venue.
Between 1975 and 1981 the festival was held in the grounds of Odell Castle in Bedfordshire. The largest audiences for Greenbelt were during its two-year stay at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire, 1982 and 1983.
1984 saw Greenbelt move to one of its longest-serving homes, Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire. While at Castle Ashby, Greenbelt began the practice of adopting an annual theme for the festival. Artists are encouraged to draw from the theme where possible.
Originally the 1992 festival was expected to be held at a new, permanent home on a farm a few miles away in Church Stowe. Greenbelt had finances in place to purchase the site, but met strong resistance from local residents. The plans collapsed and the festival returned to Castle Ashby one last time.
From 1993 to 1998 Greenbelt's home was the grounds of Deene Park, Northamptonshire. Putting the plan to purchase a permanent site on hold, Greenbelt instead negotiated with Deene Park's owner and invested in infrastructure improvements to this temporary site instead.
Following a downturn in audience figures and rising production costs, Greenbelt faced up to the inevitable in 1998: it was no longer financially viable to continue using the Deene Park site. A bold plan was devised. The 1998 event was pitched as the "last Greenbelt of its kind", with two festivals planned for 1999: a youth-oriented event "Freestate" in partnership with Spring Harvest to be held the August Bank Holiday weekend and a more family-oriented "Greenbelt" to be held over the last weekend in July at Cheltenham Racecourse.
In early 1999 plans for Freestate collapsed and its embryonic programme was hastily rolled into the Greenbelt planned for Cheltenham. The 1999 Greenbelt Festival took place at Cheltenham but saw the lowest audiences since the 1970s. It remains the only Greenbelt to have taken place other than on an August Bank Holiday weekend.
Greenbelt emerged from its financial difficulties in the early 2000s with ever-increasing audiences for festivals held at Cheltenham. In its last years at Cheltenham, although audiences were beginning to fall, they were over 20,000, comparable in numbers to those of its "glory days" in the early 1980s. In 2014 Greenbelt moved to Boughton House, Northamptonshire, due to the planned redevelopment of Cheltenham Racecourse, as well as part of the site being unusable after severe weather during the 2012 festival caused flash flooding across parts of the racecourse. Since the move the festival has been scaled back after a drop in numbers and possibly due to the related loss of finances.
Although there is constant tension between its faith-based origins and a more exploratory attitude to engaging with the world, the perspective of the festival remains one rooted in the Christian tradition, and drawing Christian music lovers.
A family of festivals
Greenbelt's vision is to be at the collision of arts, justice and faith. With the organisation's blessing, three other events have taken the same blueprint and created festivals along similar lines in other countries. The Solas Festival has been held in Scotland annually since 2010. The following year saw the first Wild Goose Festival in the United States, and in 2013 the Bet Lahem Live festival joined the informal family,
All events are run independently, with their own local flavour while acknowledging inspiration from Greenbelt.
Greenbelt is a registered charity and incorporated at Companies House. It is overseen by a board of trustees/directors who are responsible for its governance. A small staff team is supplemented by a large base of volunteers and a number of subcontractors.
These can be favourable amongst the initiated or quite negative. The Guardian sent Jessica Reed, a self-proclaimed atheist, to see the 2009 festival. Expecting to be turned off from the outset she mellowed to the point of admitting she became almost "quite tolerant of 'post-evangelism'" [sic] but finally finding that the evangelism "lurked" under the surface, she left.
A Huffington Post report said, "How progressive politics, music and religion combine to make a festival where the loos are lovely and the people properly nice". The mix of Christians, environmental campaigners, Muslim clerics and atheists make this a heady mix, "The 700 Club at play it ain't."
Locations, themes and contributors
|Festival||Date, venue and theme||Contributors included:|
|GB01||23–26 August 1974||Headliners (Parchment, Sheep, Malcolm and Alwyn, Aleksander John, All Things New, Garth Hewitt, Kevin Gould, After the Fire) - Others (Really Free Band, Narnia, Penryn Jinx, Liberation Suite, Stewart Henderson, Lonesome Stone, Fish Company, George Duffin, John Peck, Jack Filby, Eric Delve, The Living Stones, Cornerstone, Truth Trinity, Steve Turner, 11.59)|
|Prospect Farm, Suffolk|
|GB02||August 1975||After the Fire, Arnion, All Things New, Liberation Suite, Fish Co, Patrick Sookhdeo, Jean Darnell, Stewert Henderson, Alexander John, Garth Hewitt. A family service led by Patrick Sookhdeo. Feature film Quo Vardis.|
|Odell Castle, Bedfordshire|
|GB03||August 1976||Randy Matthews, Bryn Haworth Band, After the Fire with Ishmael, Mighty Flyers, Chuck Girard, Honeytree, Fish Co, Garth Hewitt, Graham Kendrick, Adrian Snell, Paul Burbridge & Murray Watts, John Peck, Graham Cray, Movement Banned|
|GB04||August 1977||All Saints Star Band, Alwyn Wall band, Masterpeace, Nutshell, Kenny Marks, John Pantry, Graham Cray, John Peck, Bill Mason, Wellies, Thin Ice, Power Take Off (PTO)|
|GB05||August 1978||Ishmael United, Bryn Haworth, Jessy Dixon, Garth Hewitt, Adrian Snell, Rodney Corder, Giantkiller, Fish Co, Parchment, John Gladwin, Margaret Winfield, Graham Kendrick, Martin Evans, Malcolm Doney, Patrick Sookhdeo, Jim Punton, Riding Lights Theatre Co, Power Take Off (PTO)|
|GB06||August 1979||Meet Jesus Music, After the Fire, Cliff Richard, Bryn Haworth, The Fat Band, Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, John Gladwin, Roy Castle, Margaret Winfield, Chris Aston, Martin Hallett, The Predators, Just The Job, Giantkiller, Solid Rock, Vatten|
|GB07||August 1980||Adrian Snell, Famous Names, Larry Norman, Daniel Amos, Jessy Dixon, Beau MacDougall, Just The Job, Jerusalem, Masterpeace, David Porter, Nigel Goodwin, Simon Jenkins, Geoffrey Stevenson|
|GB08||August 1981||U2, Tense, Just the Job, The Stares, Crown Agent, Barry McGuire, Joe English Band featuring Bonnie Bramlett, Cliff Richard, Rick Parfitt, Phil Everly, Mike Reid, Pieces of Glass, Garth Hewitt and Network 3, Randy Stonehill, Jerusalem, Norman Barratt, Sheila Walsh, Mark Williamson, Sam Hughes, 100% Proof, Paul Field, Roger Sainsbury, Stephen Timms, Ron Sider, Jim Punton, David Watson, The Predators, Solid Rock|
|GB09||August 1982||Noel Paul Stookey, Bryn Haworth, Adrian Snell, The Barratt Band, Rez Band, Servant, Andy Pratt, Talking Drums, Paradise, Maxine and the Majestics, Roger Forster, Calvin Seerveld, Jim Wallis, Patrick Sookhdeo|
|Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire|
|GB10||August 1983||100% Proof, Cliff Richard, Jessy Dixon, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Randy Stonehill, Sheila Walsh, Conquest|
|GB11||22–27 August 1984||Garth Hewitt, The Larry Norman Band, Philip Bailey, Sheila Walsh, Leviticus|
|Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire|
|GB12||August 1985||Jerusalem, Deniece Williams, Philip Bailey, Steve Taylor, Leviticus,|
|GB13||August 1986||Bryn Haworth, David Grant, Deniece Williams, The Fat Band, Mike Peters , Blood & Fire, the Choir, Gordon Gano, Elaine Storkey|
|GB14||August 1987||The Alarm, Bruce Cockburn, Daniel Amos, Leviticus, Narsh, Elaine Storkey, The Predators|
|GB15||August 1988||Martyn Joseph, Cliff Richard, Amy Grant, Runrig|
|The Fifteen Year Special|
|GB16||August 1989||Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Labi Siffre, Steve Taylor, Fat and Frantic, Eden Burning, Gary Hall and the Stormkeepers, Maggi Dawn, Sublime, Wobegone, Peter Case, Bruce Cockburn, One Bad Pig, Seventh Angel, Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, The Hang, Elaine Storkey|
|Art and Soul|
|GB17||23–27 August 1990||Runrig, The Call, Deacon Blue, Russ Taff, Whitecross.|
|Rumours of Glory|
|GB18||22–26 August 1991||Galactic Cowboys, Chagall Guevara, Steve Harley, Sounds of Blackness, Amy Grant, River City People, Steeleye Span, Tintagel, The Pineapples, Michael W Smith, This Picture|
|Wrestling with Angels|
|GB19||27–31 August 1992||Nine O'Clock Service, Runrig, Bob Geldof and the Happy Clubsters, Martyn Joseph|
|Journeys of the heart|
|GB20||26–30 August 1993||T-Bone, The Prayer Chain, Magnum, James Taylor Quartet, Incognito, Herbie Armstrong, D-Influence, Iain Archer, Tom Sine, James Jones, Tom Wright, Gerard Hughes, Pete Ward, Stewart Henderson, Nigel Forde, Tom Robinson, Samantha Fox|
|Deene Park, Northamptonshire|
|Field of Dreams|
|GB21||25–29 August 1994||Powerhouse Choir, The Proclaimers, Steve Taylor, Midnight Oil|
|Roots, Rhythm and Redemption|
|GB22||24–28 August 1995||Moby, Corduroy, Credit to the Nation, Disraeli Gears, Doo The Moog, Pray For Rain, Newsboys, Quick and the Dead, Frank Chikane, Gustavo Parajon, Dave Tomlinson, Lavinia Byrne, Jo Ind, Joy Carroll|
|Can these dry bones dance?|
|GB23||22–26 August 1996||Dakoda Motor Co., Steven Curtis Chapman, Ricky Ross, Moby, Brian Kennedy (singer), Eve & The Garden|
|Windows on wild heaven|
|GB24||21–25 August 1997||Vigilantes of Love, Lamb, Iona, Sneaker Pimps|
|GB25||27–31 August 1998||Headliners Jars of Clay, All Star United, Carleen Anderson, Delirious?, Fat and Frantic|
|The last of its kind|
|GB26||29 July - 1 August 1999||Bruce Cockburn, Vigilantes of Love, Blind Boys of Alabama, Asian Dub Foundation, Martyn Joseph, Rick Wakeman|
|Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|Deeper and Wider|
|GB27||25–28 August 2000||Phatfish, Dum Dums, Joan Armatrading, Mal Pope, Tom Robinson with Martyn Joseph|
|GB28||24–27 August 2001||Vigilantes of Love, Dum Dums, Eddi Reader, Courtney Pine, Brian Houston, Martyn Joseph, Sarah Masen, Kato, Jessy Dixon, Kendall Payne, Emmaus, Ben Castle, BottleRockit, Airstar, Steve Lawson, Bell Jar|
|GB29||23–26 August 2002||Over the Rhine, Jazz Jamaica, Delirious?, Faith Folk & Anarchy, Steve Apirana, Lies Damned Lies, Ben Okafor, Steve Lawson|
|Kiss of Life|
|GB30||22–25 August 2003||The Polyphonic Spree, Kate Rusby, Umoja, The Tribe, Billy Bragg, Duke Special, Aqualung, Eden Burning, Boo Hewerdine, Kato, Brian Houston, Quench (band)|
|Diving for Pearls|
|GB31||27–30 August 2004||Lambchop, Delirious?, Denys Baptiste, Jamelia, After The Fire, Rob Newman, Rowan Williams|
|GB32||26–29 August 2005||Iain Archer, Estelle, The Proclaimers, Jazz Jamaica, Corrine Bailey Rae, Ricky Ross, Juliet Turner, Daby Touré, Beth Rowley, Gilles Peterson, Emiliana Torrini, Kendall Payne, Carleen Anderson, Elaine Storkey|
|Tree of Life|
|GB33||25–28 August 2006||Maria McKee, Daniel Bedingfield, My Morning Jacket, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Dave Andrews, Martyn Joseph, This Beautiful Republic|
|GB34||24–27 August 2007||Billy Bragg, Kanda Bongo Man, Coldcut, Over the Rhine, John Tavener, Delirious?, Rebecca Worthley, Duke Special, Denison Witmer, Chas & Dave, Aqualung, Matt Redman|
|Heaven in Ordinary|
|GB35||22–25 August 2008||Michael Franti and Spearhead, Seth Lakeman, Beth Rowley, José González, Fightstar, Jamie Catto, The Ian McMillan Orchestra, Iain Archer, Linchpin, Martyn Joseph, Starfield, Anathallo, MxPx, Juliet Turner, Matthew Herbert Big Band, Shlomo, Daby Touré, Brian Houston, Steve Lawson|
|GB36||28–31 August 2009||Athlete, Bluetree, Bosh, Cenacle, Cornershop, Duke Special, Eddy Johns, Edwina Hayes, LZ7, Peggy Sue, Röyksopp, Sixpence None The Richer, Stu G, Sway, The Invisible, Tim Hughes|
|Standing in the Long Now|
|GB37||27–30 August 2010||Luke Leighfield, Beverley Knight, Courtney Pine, Shed Seven, London Community Gospel Choir, Ty, Jars of Clay, Foy Vance, Lou Rhodes, The King Blues, The Dodge Brothers, Ugly Duckling, Zic Zazou, Tom Hollander, Kester Brewin, John Bell, Richard Rohr, Maggi Dawn, Mark Yaconelli, Dave Andrews, Cole Moreton, Bruce Kent, Clare Short, John Smith, Jude Simpson, Andy Flannagan, Robin Ince, Martyn Joseph, Milton Jones, Peter Tatchell, Lucy Winkett, Mark Vernon, Stanley Hauerwas, Richard Chartres, Foy Vance, Roger McGough, David Morrissey, Simon Mayo, Linda Marlowe, Mark Kermode, Laurence Freeman, Abdul-Rehman Malik, Riding Lights Theatre Company, Andrew Rumsey, Tony Vino, Bobby Baker, Steve Lawson, Jason Barnett, Nick Park, Gareth Higgins, Cole Moreton, Janey Lee Grace, Richard Harries, Gustavo Parajon, Karen Ward, Pip Wilson, Eliacín Rosario-Cruz, Tom Sine, Francis Spufford, Jo Ind, Catherine Venn, Michael McDermott|
|The Art of Looking Sideways|
|GB38||26–29 August 2011||Martyn Joseph, Milton Jones, Iain Archer, Show of Hands, Kate Rusby, Idlewild, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly. Mavis Staples, Billy Bragg, Mark Thomas, Luke Leighfield, Folk On, The Unthanks, Harry Baker, Tony Vino, John Bell, Willie Williams, Methodist Modern Art Collection.|
|Dreams of Home|
|Greenbelt 2012||24–27 August 2012||Speech Debelle, Bruce Cockburn, The Proclaimers, Seth Lakeman, Bellowhead, The Imagined Village, Megson, Thomas Truax, Franz Nicolay, Frank Skinner, Asian Dub Foundation, Robin Ince, Diamuid McCulloch, Harry Baker, Folk On, Nitin Sawhney, Martyn Joseph, Schlomo|
|Greenbelt 2013||23–26 August 2013||Amadou & Mariam, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lemar, Duke Special, Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray, London Community Gospel Choir, Courtney Pine, Thea Gilmore, Graham Kendrick, Why?, Fat and Frantic, Barbara Brown Taylor, Dave Andrews, Jim Wallis, Eric Kaufmann, Clare Balding, Adrian Plass, Milton Jones, The Sunday Assembly, Folk On|
|Greenbelt 2014||22–25 August 2014||Sinead O'Connor, Stornoway, Tinariwen, Luke Sital-Singh, Gilles Peterson, Jahmene Douglas, Boo Hewerdine, Beth Rowley, Lau, Hackney Colliery Band, Bridie Jackson & The Arbour, Emily and The Woods, Gaggle, Samantha Crain, Wara, Winter Mountain, Jason Carter, Dizraeli and the Small Gods, Hobbit, Cathy Burton, Harp and a Monkey, Heather Hind, Levi Hummon, RM Hubbert, The Chaplins, The Cut Ups, Tiny Ruins, Ezio, Josephine and The Artizans, The Jonny Walker Band, Apirana Quartet, Benjamin Blower & The Army of the Broken Hearted, Fischy Music, Flute of Shame, Lotte Mullan, The Claze, Thumb, Vive, The Observatory, Jump Cannon Productions, Berkeley Ensemble, Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies, Hope & Social, The Tombola Theory (with Ben Castle), The Old Plough Folk Club, Atlum Schema, Chris T-T & The Hoodrats, Ellie Rose, Flight Brigade, Folk On, Grace Petrie, Guvna B, Hannah Scott, Jasmine Kennedy, Jess Morgan, Luke Leighfield, Marcus Hummon, Martyn Joseph, Rory Butler, Yvonne Lyon, Stanley Odd, The Travelling Band, Clara Sanabras, Wednesday's Wolves, Harvey Brough|
|Boughton House, Northamptonshire|
|Greenbelt 2015||28–31 August 2015||The Polyphonic Spree, The Unthanks, Duke Special, Under the Dark Cloth, Shlomo, Kiran Ahluwalia, Zara McFarlane, Josephine Scott Matthews, King Porter Stomp, Pascuala Ilabaca y Fauna, Martyn Joseph, Grace Petrie, Marcus Bonfanti, This Is The Kit, Bert Miller and the Animal Folk, Ciaran Lavery, Tom Butler, Worry Dolls, Burning Codes, Gaz Brookfield, CoCo and the Butterfields, Digitonal, King Kool The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, Marc O'Reilly, Sam Brookes, Thea Hopkins, Folk On, Beth Goudie, Boat To Row, Ella and the Blisters, New Portals, Miriam Jones, Matt Sellors, Andrew Howie, Homegrown Collective, Rosalind Peters, Adesuwa Bullen, Danni Nicholls, Fran Smith, The Fruitful Earth, Paul Bell, Speak Brother, Steph Macleod, The Coopers, Joni Fuller, Garth Hewitt, Paul Bell, Sophronie, Oldtime Nursery, Iain Archer, Project Jam Sandwich, LewRey, KARI, Sam Lee & Friends, Broken Brass Ensemble, Pearl Fish, 7PM Soundsystem, Double-0-Denim, Heather Wall, Kimarne Henry, DJ LUMA, Moon passion Flamenco Band|
|The Bright Field|
|Greenbelt 2016||26–29 August 2016||Beth Rowley, Mike Peters, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Hot 8 Brass Band, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Hope & Social's 'A Band Anyone Can Join', Elaine Storkey, DJ LUMA, Gaz Brookfield, The Rubber Wellies|
|Greenbelt 2017||25–28 August 2017||Newton Faulkner, Kate Rusby, Luke Sital-Singh, Wildwood Kin, Sound of the Sirens, Jess Morgan, Martyn Joseph, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Clean Cut Kid, CC Smugglers, Dan Donovan, King Porter Stomp, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, Jasmine Kennedy, The Rubber Wellies, Will Varley, Jasper in the Company of Others, Zoe Lyons, Paul Kerensa|
|M̶e̶, Y̶o̶u̶ , Us - The Common Good|
|Greenbelt 2018||24–27 August 2018||Pussy Riot, We Are Scientists, Ozomalti, Ibibio Sound Machine, I'm With Her, Duke Special, Lowkey, Lewis Watson, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, CC Smugglers, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Pierce Brothers, L.A. Salami, Grace Petrie, Martyn Joseph, Zach Said, Lots Holloway, Xylaroo, The Welcome Wagon, Jack Monroe, Michael Eavis, Kate Raworth, Carol Ann Duffy, Jon McGregor, Harry Baker, Jojo Mehta, Simon Mayo, Vicky Beeching, Lauri Love, Dawn Foster, Robyn Travis, Jonathan Bartley, Eve Poole, Broderick Greer, Lynne Segal, Rants n Bants, Winnie Varghese, Anthony Reddie, Sam Wells, Anna Kessel, Matthew Morris, Paula Gooder, Peterson Toscano, Roman Krznaric, Stephen James Smith, Garth Hewitt, Flo & Joan, Harry & Chris, Tony Law, Bryony Kimmings, Alula Cyr, Milk Presents, Malak Mattar|
|Acts of the Imagination|
|Greenbelt 2019||23–26 August 2019||Russell Brand, Frank Turner, Lucy Spraggan, Fantastic Negrito, Gregory Alan Isakov, Brass Against, SOAK, Nakhane, Paul Mason, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Michael Leunig, Belarus Free Theatre, Extinction Rebellion, The Anti Fracking Nanas, Jamie Bartlett, Grace Blakeley, Kumi Naidoo, Danny Dorling, Safia Minney, Miata Fahnbulleh, Harry and Chris, Folk On, Fischy Music|
|Wit and Wisdom|
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 47th Greenbelt, "Wild at Heart" was postponed a year to 2021. A limited version of the festival took place online, entitled "Wild at Home". On May 4, 2021, it was announced that the festival would be cancelled for the second time in 2021 due to uncertainties over the pandemic. Instead there is to be a very scaled-back camping gathering, in the spirit of the first festival, called Prospect Farm.
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