Over 5,000 festival goers of all ages flocked to the first Deva Fest at Chester Lakes in the September sunshine this weekend for the party of the year.
The family focused festival was a collaboration between local lifestyle platform We Love Good Times and Taste Cheshire – champions of local food producers and organisers of the hugely successful Chester Food & Drink Festival.
Anticipation for the event had been growing for months following the announcement of The Feeling to headline Saturday night and orchestral collective Symphonic Ibiza reimagining dance classics on Sunday with fans attending from across the UK.
The show opened on Friday night with three local acts – singer-songwriter Lucy Bradburn, all round performer David O’Connor and the high energy rhythm and blues of Zoot Seious and The Belly Full of Bop– whilst The Bavarian Strollers got everyone up on their feet with some proper Bavarian Oompah fun.
Organiser Phil Marston said ‘A great night was had by all and we are particularly pleased that so many of our guests from the local emergency services who were given free ballot tickets came along to enjoy our opening night’.
Saturday was billed as Carnival Day with regular parades, music and dance from Chester’s Winter Watch Parade. A number of North West based bands took to the stage as the crowds built throughout the day including Mississippi Riot, Camens and SWJ Group – and a real highlight was the Carnival Day Ball provided by Cabaret Queen Trixi Bold and her fabulous friends.
Band of brothers duo The Dunwells, who recently supported Tom Jones and now embark on a tour with Scouting for Girls did a superb job early evening wowing the 2000 strong audience with a stunning set, winning hundreds of new fans in the process, and the evening finished off with an incredible performance from multi-platinum selling crowd pleasers The Feeling who were playing their last gig of the summer – it was a set which those lucky enough to witness will not forget in a hurry.
But there was plenty more to come, and Old School Dance Reunion Sunday certainly didn’t disappoint. This much anticipated day kicked off with local DJ legend Geddes & Gioia, followed by BBC Radio DJ Mark Radcliffe’s UNE who spent lots of time chatting with fans after their brilliant show. UNE were followed by the hilarious Bingo Large team who literally brought the house down with their crazy comedic take on the nations favourite game, and the Big Top was packed.
Co-organiser Izzy Grey said ‘this was one of the funniest things I have ever seen with those two pesky DJ’s causing chaos whilst players won ridiculous prizes including a life size cut out of Harry & Meghan and an inflatable unicorn. The audience absolutely loved it and I saw people literally crying with laughter, I don’t think we could ever do another festival without them’.
The Sunday Sessions continued with 90’s dance act Shiva, who reformed just for Deva Fest, followed by Capella and Baby D, who made a local couple very happy when she invited them up on stage to dance with her when she recognised them after performing at their wedding two years ago.
K-Klass then took to the stage, and the Deva Fest audience responded with pure joy as the tunes got bigger and bigger, to make way for Sunday headliners Symphonic Ibiza who featured vocals from Natasha Hamilton and Marcella Woods in their barnstorming set of reimagined dance classics from the last 30 years.
Phil Marston said ‘we were totally overwhelmed by Symphonic Ibiza who ensured Deva Fest ended on such a high. What they did this evening was absolutely phenomenal and was by far one of the most exciting and polished performances we have ever seen. They are a totally unique act and we couldn’t have had a better finish to what has been such a special weekend for Chester and beyond.
Festival goers also enjoyed live Gladiator re-enactments provided by the Dewa Roman Experience, great food & drink provided by members of Taste Cheshire and a free shuttle bus operating between Chester Railway Station and the festival site for the duration of the event.
Families made up the majority of the attendance and they were particularly appreciative of the free funfair, with unlimited rides included in their ticket price.