Westival set to rock Dorking’s West Street again this October!
Celebrating the very best local bands and acts from within Dorking and the surrounding area, Westival is a free three-day music festival, taking place across the three West Street venues of The Kings Arms, The Star and The Old House on Friday 29th, Saturday 30th, and Sunday 31st October.
We spoke to Westival’s Organiser of Bands and Charity, Jon Snow, about the event, what people can expect and more about the story behind this popular annual Dorking music festival.
How did the event come about?
We wanted to raise money for local charities, give local non-professional bands a forum to perform to friends and family in great venues and to bring more joy to West Street.
How long has Westival been running?
Five years now. Sadly last year’s event, in April, had to be cancelled at short notice due to the pandemic and lockdown, which we were very sad about, but it means that we are even more excited to return bigger and better for 2021.
What kind of music will be played?
There are over 50 bands and acts and they cover most genres, from pop cover bands, Blues, Rock, indie, country, originals bands and some just kind of weird but fun! We even have a Pub Choir workshop where you can learn the various harmonies of a song and perform it at the end. Box Hill Bedlam Morris Dancers and Bloco Do Sul salsa band drummers will also be performing.
Are there any stand-out acts?
Every performer is donating their talent for free and for charity and so every single one stands out, whether they usually perform in their front room or gig regularly on the music circuit, they are all total stars and wonderful human beings.
Do you need to purchase a ticket to come?
The festival is not ticketed and it is a free event. We have collection buckets for our nominated charity, Dorking Minds, and the people that attend are encouraged to make a donation as well as drink and eat plenty at the venues to support the local businesses that are hosting – safely and in moderation of course.
This year, Westival is raising money for local charity Dorking Minds, can you tell us more about that?
Dorking Minds is a community group providing information and resources to help local residents improve their mental health. They also offer subsidised Mental Health First Aid training, a monthly mental health talk on the fourth Monday of the month and an annual event – MINDFEST. They believe that no one with mental health issues should feel isolated or alone. They want to help people in the Dorking area to take control of their mental health and also provide up-to-date information about local services that can support those with mental health issues. We are very proud to be supporting this invaluable Dorking charitable organisation through this year’s Westival.
What would you say makes the event special?
Dorking, the venues and the brilliant performers. The event has a lovely fun and informal atmosphere.
Is there anything that someone should know before attending?
There are age restrictions of over 21s in the venues after 9pm but, other than that, just that they are guaranteed a fabulous time!
What COVID measures do you have in place?
The venues will have hand sanitiser aplenty, the track and trace system will be in place and, of course, masks are optional for those that wish to wear them. As the venues are relatively small, there are no restrictions on numbers in line with current government guidelines for pubs.
What has been the reception from the Dorking community for Westival?
Based on the success and attendance of the last Westival, the reception this time has been phenomenal and there is a lot of excitement already building about the return of Westival. The event filled up with acts very quickly and there is a waiting list of acts desperate to play should any bands have to cancel.
What is your hope for the future of the event?
For the comradery of the performers, audiences and venues to grow and thrive again through future Westivals, following the difficult year and a half we have had. Right now though for 2021, this one will be one hell of a Dorking party!
Can you tell me more about the music and arts scene in Dorking?
A large part of Westival’s success is due to the thriving music and arts scene in Dorking and the people of the Arty, Muso community that live here. We give priority to Dorking-based bands and arts groups to perform and there are very many of them. At least half of the 50 plus acts are from Dorking and the surrounding villages. All three of the venues in West Street involved in Westival have regular live bands and DJs and it has been wonderful to see this thriving again more and more each week following the restrictions from the pandemic lifting.
Westival will take place on Friday 29th, Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st October 2021 at The Kings Arms, The Star and The Old House. To find out more about the event, keep an eye on their social media by visiting their Dorking Westival event on Facebook.
If you are interested in finding out more about local charitable organisation Dorking Minds, visit: www.dorkingminds.org.uk. They are holding their next Mental Health First Aid training course, focussed on skills for supporting young people in particular, across two Saturdays: November 13th and December 4th from 10am-4.30pm.