About the Festival
We are celebrating our 20th Festival this year!
The two day event is proudly organised by Gorleston in Gear, a committee which has experienced many changes over the years yet still has members who have been involved pretty much from the start! The newest members of the committee joined in 2011 and since then the festival has grown considerably to what is now known as the mile long summer attraction.
The event was traditionally known as Gorleston Clifftop Gala and, in conjunction with the round table, hosted the Gorleston Raft Race. The main focus of the Gala was to host a platform where charities from across the area could come to one place, with lots of people, to fundraise for their individual good causes. This ethos is continued year after year and on Sunday, still hailed as the traditional ‘Gala day’, charities pitch up on a stretch of the cliffs with tombolas, human fruit machines, pig racing and many more fundraising activities to entice generous visitors to support causes close to their hearts.
The raft race, unfortunately, was unable to continue due to a number of reasons but with so many people in the area still talking and reminiscing about it the committee is keeping a ‘never say never’ attitude about the return of the race in the future.
In 2012 the festival came under threat of not being able to continue and celebrate its 15th year anniversary when it was hit with a substantial insurance bill. Having been covered by the Borough Council’s umbrella insurance for a number of years, the committee were informed that this would no longer be the case – with only three months to go before the event was due to take place. A decision was made by the committee to settle on a deadline to see whether enough funds could be pulled together to keep the festival running for at least its 15th year. Further decisions had to be made in this time – one of the hardest being the decision to write to all stall holders from charities, to caterers, to the funfair and explain that pitch prices needed to be increased to ensure the continuity of the event. The committee were pleasantly surprised at the positive response from nearly all the stall holders and it was reassuring to witness how people will come together and give a little bit more to allow a fantastic free family event to go ahead. Alongside the increased pitch fees a plea for sponsorship was put out to local businesses and once again the committee were greeted with positive responses with organisations pledging £25 to £300 – all of which ensured the festival could pack out the cliffs of Gorleston for another year.
With 6 weeks to go until the festival was due to go ahead the committee were pleased to announce that the hard work, understanding and generosity of all stakeholders of the event meant that Gorleston Clifftop Festival would see its 15th Year. The anticipation around the town as to whether Gorleston would experience its biggest and best event again put passion in the hearts of the committee to ensure that the 2012 event was the best yet – and it sure was. Interest in the festival had increased and with it being the year of the Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee there was a general buzz in the air which the committee took advantage of and decided to pack out the Saturday of the event as well as the Sunday, giving Gorleston an event they could be proud of and proving that insurance was not going to get in the way of the festival taking place.
Gorleston Clifftop Festival is now going from strength to strength, the aim is to put Saturday on the map and make it as popular as the Sunday. In 2013 the committee worked closely with SeaChange Arts from Great Yarmouth and hosted La Fete Franglais where Gorleston welcomed some of Europe’s most entertaining street performers, gymnasts and a very creative hair dresser! Beachside Dog Agility also joined the festival on the Saturday to put on continuous demonstrations for dog loving spectators and Active Norfolk hosted the sports carousel for those who wanted to take part in something active rather than be a spectator. The sun shone down on the mile stretch of the sunrise coast and with it brought tens of thousands of visitors on the Sunday making it the busiest weekend to date and proving just how popular this sea side event is.
Looking to the future of the festival the committee can only hope it gets bigger and better. Without fail there will always be two jam packed days with entertainment and music, a busy fairground and so much more. To check out what is going on at this year’s event click on the event guide link above or check out our facebook and twitter.