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Festival shrugs off cloudburst

31 August 2012

JONATHON WATKINS

Before the deluge: the Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn performing on the mainstage at Cheltenham on Friday

Before the deluge: the Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn performing on the mainstage at Cheltenham on Friday

THE power of prayer, then, was not enough to spare the Greenbelt Festival from the rain that has blighted so many of this summer's outdoor events.

On Saturday afternoon, when the festival was in full swing, the clouds burst. Within minutes, water was seeping, or in some instances cascading, into various venues on the site.

A combination of prayer, forward planning, and hard-working volunteers, however, meant that the inundation had hardly any effect on the huge Greenbelt programme. A few years ago, a run of bad summers almost finished the festival. But then came the move to the Cheltenham Racecourse, and now the organisers have a range of venues to choose from, many of them indoors.

As a result, few events were cancelled, and only one small area of the campsite suffered. The Big Top was soggy, and a talks venue, "Galilee", lived up to its name. The chief impact was on the pathway in the middle of the site, which became a quagmire, and never recovered.

Numbers were slightly down, either because of the weather or the financial climate, but only by about 500-600, the organisers say. About 19,400 came throughout the weekend. And the sun shone for the Sunday-morning eucharist, at which about £39,000 was collected to be given away by Trust Greenbelt.

The Church Times is the official Greenbelt media partner.

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