Stonehenge Free Festival
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|Stonehenge Free Festival|
|Dates||month of June–June 21|
|Location(s)||Stonehenge in England|
|Years active||1974 to 1984|
The Stonehenge Free Festival was a British free festival from 1974 to 1984 held at the prehistoric monument Stonehenge in England during the month of June, and culminating with the summer solstice on or near June 21. It emerged as the major free festival in the calendar after the violent suppression of the Windsor Free Festival in August 1974, with Wally Hope providing the impetus for its founding, and was itself violently suppressed in 1985 in the Battle of the Beanfield, with no free festival held at Stonehenge since although people have been allowed to gather at the stones again for the solstice since 1999.
By the 1980s, the festival had grown to be a major event, attracting up to 30,000 people in 1984. The festival attendees were viewed as hippies by the wider British public. This, along with the open drug use and sale, contributed to the increase in restrictions on access to Stonehenge, and fences were erected around the stones in 1977. The same year, police resurrected a moribund law against driving over grassland in order to levy fines against festival goers in motorised transport. However, as late as 1984 the police-festival relations were relaxed: just a nominal presence (two police constables) in the car park.
The festival was a celebration of various alternative cultures. The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, The Tepee People, Circus Normal, the Peace Convoy, New Age Travellers and the Wallys were notable counterculture attendees.
The stage hosted many bands including Hawkwind, Gong, Doctor and the Medics, Flux of Pink Indians, Buster Blood Vessel, Omega Tribe, Crass, The Selecter, Dexys Midnight Runners, Thompson Twins, Bronz, The Raincoats, The 101ers with Joe Strummer, Jeremy Spencer & the Children of God, Brent Black Music Co-op, Killerhertz, Mournblade, Amazulu, Wishbone Ash, Man, Benjamin Zephaniah, Inner City Unit, Here and Now, Cardiacs, The Enid, Roy Harper, Jimmy Page, Ted Chippington, Zorch and Ozric Tentacles, Vince pie and the crumbs, which all played for free.
The 1981 list of bands included Red Ice, Selecter, Theatre of Hate, Sugar Minott, Doll by Doll, Thompson Twins, Night Doctor, Merger, Androids of Mu, Deaf Aids, Killerhertz, The Raincoats, Thandoy, Foxes and Rats, ICU Lightning Raiders, Psycho Hampster, Misty in Roots, Andy Allens Future, Inner Visions, Red Beat, Man to Man Triumphant, Stolen Pets, Seeds of Creation, Coxone Sound System, Black Widow, Here and Now, Hawkwind, Steel and Skin, The Lines, Waiting for Arnold, Play Dead, Cauldron, Lighting by Shoe, Flux of Pink Indians, The Mob, Treatment, Popular History of Signs, The Wystic Mankers, Elsie Steer and Cosmic Dave.
- List of historic rock festivals
- List of jam band music festivals
- Phil Russell, aka Wally Hope, co-founder of the Stonehenge and Windsor free festivals.
- Council of British Druid Orders
- McKay, George (1996) Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties: chapter one "The free festivals and fairs of Albion", chapter two "O life unlike to ours! Go for it! New Age travellers". London: Verso Books. ISBN 1-85984-028-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stonehenge Free Festival.|
- Stonehenge free festivals 1972-85 - An illustrated History
- Tash's Stonehenge Festival and "Exclusion Zone" photo galleries
- BBC 2004 Stonehenge "Festival History" article
- "Stonehenge Campaign"
- Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion by Andy Worthington (Alternative Albion, 2004)