We went to Highest Point Festival 2021 and it was like a world where the pandemic didn’t happen

For it’s grand 2021 return, Highest Point Festival is bigger and better than ever.

With huge artists like Rick Astley, James and Rag n Bone Man taking over the main stage, Lancaster’s Williamson Park can expect to see 35,000 people pour through its gates across the festival running from Thursday to Sunday (September 2 to 5).

As thousands of people made their way through the gates to Thursday headliner James, LancsLive followed in beside them ready to check out all that is new to 2021 – and make some first impressions of the huge weekend ahead.

For entry, guests had to show their ticket as well as an NHS Covid Pass or negative lateral flow, proof of double vaccination or a positive PCR result from the last 180 days (meaning the antibodies are doing their job).

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There is a lateral flow testing site by the main entrance, so guests without these requirements are assisted to take a lateral flow test.

There is also a return shuttle bus that picks up visitors from Common Garden Street in Lancaster for £2.

Aside from the well-regulated entry requirements and transport from the city, there’s a handful of new additions to the festival this weekend, as well as some excellent local food vendors and a cashless system.

The Sundial Tent

For Williamson Park regulars, the sundial is the best spot for a sunset with views across Morecambe Bay.

At Highest Point Festival 2021, it’s a stage.

The Sundial Tent
The Sundial Tent

The Sundial tent is really impressive and a great use of what Williamson Park already has on offer.

The tent is huge and with a central stage, the tent sides will certainly see some great crowds this weekend.

The Dell stage is bigger and better this year too, the woodland rave pit has had an edgy refurb this year and it looks amazing.

There is also a new stage in the woods made for dancing, so you can live your woodland dance dreams right here in Lancaster. Both of these dance pits open up on Friday, see you there if you fancy a boogie.

Cash and card free zone

This year, Williamson Park is a cash free zone. There’s no card payments, no cash payments – it’s just you and your sweet, sweet wristband.

It’s actually really simple: when you enter the festival, you get given a wristband. As you walk into the main zone, there is a ‘Top Up’ tent and several QR code points where you can add money to your band. Once you’ve topped up your wristband with a bit of cash, you’re good to go.

Food vendors at Highest Point Festival
Food vendors at Highest Point Festival

No need to worry about loose change or missing debit cards, it’s all on your wrist.

Pricing for the festival is generally average. Food costs anywhere between £6 to £12, drinks on draught are around £4 a pint and £3 a half, cans and any spirt and mixers cost between £4.50 and £8.

I’d recommend putting a lump sum of money on your band either before or as soon as you get in, there’s something quite crushing about those email receipts that come through every time you top up £10.

The main stage

For the Thursday evening, the main stage was where all the magic happened. Off the bat, I have never seen so many James fans in my life. People were at the barrier for the band from around 5pm.

Before James, acts Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and Lightning Seeds provided excellent sets whilst people celebrated being out of lockdown and being able to dance in a field again.

The crowd for James at Highest Point Festival
The crowd for James at Highest Point Festival

As James came on, people literally legged it from the bar to join the crowd.

I was taken aback by a couple of James’ lyrics, they are quite existential, but when lead singer Tim Booth asked the crowd to scream as therapy for the past year, it was wild.

It surprises me how exceptional Ashton Memorial looks as a backdrop for a festival.

As it lit up and James came on stage, it was like being in a world where the pandemic didn’t happen. That’s quite magical, isn’t it?

Tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday, with the Saturday headliner being Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Sunday’s being Rick Astley.

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