Brolly time for festival fans

As the summer holiday season gets under way, there was a predictably damp start to one of East Anglia's biggest outdoor music events.The first of the 10,000 music fans who are expected to arrive for the Eastern Haze Festival at Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, this weekend were greeted with high winds and driving rain.

As the summer holiday season gets under way, there was a predictably damp start to one of East Anglia's biggest outdoor music events.

The first of the 10,000 music fans who are expected to arrive for the Eastern Haze Festival at Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, this weekend were greeted with high winds and driving rain.

As the festival got under way yesterday afternoon, soggy revellers were crammed into the smaller music tents, with only the hardiest fans breaking out the brollies to watch the bands on the exposed main stage.

Ipswich-based atmospheric instrumentalists The Future Kings Of England, who have just released an album inspired by Suffolk folklore called The Fate Of Old Mother Orvis, played to an audience of just 15 people.

Drummer Simon Green said: “It is really tough, but what can you do about the British weather?

“That's the thing with festivals; you just have to take the chance.”

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But with weather experts predicting that the worst of the rain had passed, and a crowd-pleasing headline set expected from Phill Jupitus and the Blockheads last night, organisers were confident the event would recover for the remainder of the weekend.

Event organiser Seb Fosdal said: “I think people are enjoying it.

“Festival crowds are here to enjoy themselves and they just get on with it. We have lots of tents and places to go to escape the rain. We've not had many casualties. The on-site bakery tent was blown into the trees and they had to close for the day, but we've made it safe and cordoned it off.”

Sixties psychedelic icon and self-styled “god of hellfire” Arthur Brown, who will be introducing the acts to the main stage, said he thought the British festival spirit would shine through.

“They asked me to bring my costumes, but I should have just brought 15 types of raincoat,” he said.

“The people I have spoken to in the audience have philosophically said that this is what they expect from English festivals. They don't worry about it and the bands still love it.”

Although he will not be performing his own set, it was rumoured that Arthur might be appearing with one of Saturday's bands in his famous fire helmet. “People need to be here by 3pm if they want to see it,” he said. “It might warm people up a bit.”

Ian Hemingway, from Leeds, was camping for the weekend with his friends and trying to find somewhere to escape the conditions.

“The weather won't stop us; we're just going to go out and have fun now that we're here,” he said.

The good news for the festival is that forecasters have predicted sunshine could be on the way. Weatherquest said last night that the bulk of the rain was expected to clear the northern tip of Norfolk by 10pm, leaving just a few showers on Saturday and Sunday with a chance of some broken sunshine.

Tonight's headliners will be festival favourites Ozric Tentacles, with Fab Four tribute the Bootleg Beatles rounding off the show on Sunday evening. Day tickets are still available on the gate.

Last night's speedway meeting at King's Lynn was cancelled due to the weather.

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