IRON Festival is a hit with audiences

A scene from Those In Peril featuring Diane Legg, Ann Ridley and Aleasha Forster. Picture by Dave Shaw.
A scene from Those In Peril featuring Diane Legg, Ann Ridley and Aleasha Forster. Picture by Dave Shaw.

One abiding memory is the festive atmosphere; as I walked away from the sweet tones of the festival fringe musicians on the corner of Mast Lane, the infectious honky tonk of Mike Waller, performing outside The Boat Yard, came into earshot, writes Pete Mortimer.

A little earlier we’d watched the antics of the Poets v Prose Writers Cricket Match on Beaconsfield. Canadian writer Warren Carriou, despite mugging up online to understand cricket’s mysteries, still tossed away his bat as he took off for a run.

Ten hours earlier, at the bewitching hour of midnight, more than 100 people flocked into the specially floodlit scene of St George Church, sipping cocoa as the dramatic live organ sounds of Ryan Siddall’s commissioned music score flooded the building. This heralded the launch of Cold IRON, our new book of 21st century ghost stories.

A different kind of cultural experience was Colin Cameron’s early morning talk on existentialism in The Board Yard where 40 people tucked into an existential breakfast. The venue had the sign and genuine place mats of the Parisian Café de Flore and several attending dressed for the occasion.

Who could deny the poignancy of the opening event at The Crescent Club, the Cloud Nine production of Ruth Henderson’s new play Those in Peril? Some audience members were openly weeping to see recreated on stage the 1848 event where four Lisle family members drowned in view of relatives on the Cullercoats shore. With haunting music from The Keelers and choreography from The Cloggies, this was an unforgettable experience.

The concert room was chock full as it was for poet Ian McMillan’s explosive performance the following night. Most events over the four days were full, including three new book launches at the RNLI, a location whose panoramic views left several visitors breathless.

The unique locations partially explain the festival’s success. This, plus quality performers and Cullercoats’ new-found confidence and pride in itself. You won’t get a better experience, the village seemed to tell visitors. It was right.