The Wilkswood Reggae Festival started as a small, family-friendly festival near Swanage with the aim of providing “some cross-cultural, pan-generational harmony”.
Now it has grown into a major highlight on the festival calendar attracting hundreds of visitors and a line-up of reggae legends and pioneers from the UK and abroad performing across three stages.
The event takes place from Friday, July 20 to Sunday, July 22, on a 600-acre farm on the outskirts of the Purbeck village of Langton Matravers.
It’s the brainchild of Dubwood Productions, a joint collaboration with the Scott Arms in Kingston (near Corfe Castle, not Jamaica!) and members of Dubheart, Bournemouth’s own international reggae stars.
“Reggae music has always had the power to unite people across race, gender and religious borders and perhaps in these days of increasing divisiveness, reggae’s unifying message resonates louder than ever,” explains Simon at Dubwood Productions.
He added: “Purbeck has always had a reputation for being laid back and mystical and a reggae festival seemed like a perfect fit.”
But the organisers stress that it is still first and foremost a family-friendly festival with plenty to keep the kids entertained with a dedicated play area, the leafy Dingly Dell featuring storytelling and music, and a hay bale castle. There are also reduced prices for children up to the age of 17 and under-threes are free.
Headliners include reggae legend, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, who worked with Bob Marley and the Wailers and is often credited with kick-starting Bob Marley’s career.
Scratch has also worked with the Heptones, The Congos, Junior Murvin (they co-wrote the seminal Police & Thieves), Sly & Robbie, the Beastie Boys and the Clash amongst many others.
Now aged 82, Perry has racked up countless recordings as both artist and producer (a conservative count lists over 60 albums).
Simon added: “His eccentric genius has influenced musical genres way beyond the world of reggae. It’s fair to say that the Godfather of Dub’s incalculable influence is still reverberating through genres from hip-hop to grime to dubstep.”
Other highlights of the 2018 Wilkswood Reggae Festival include Mad Professor, General Levy & Joe Ariwa, Earl Sixteen & Carroll Thompson, Mikey General, Chainska Brassika, The Hempolics, Don Fe, Prince Jamo and Gaz Mayall’s Rockin’ Blues and Bournemouth’s own Dubheart and Countryman Sound.
Kid’s zone highlights include the Wessex Community Circus, kid’s cinema, pizza making, yogadreads and nature walks.
And there’s plenty of food and drink to whet your appetite too. Look out for Jerkshak Jamaican barbecue, wood-fired pizzas, Thai, Mexican, vegetarian and vegan street food, smoothie and juice bars, draught Dorset ales, lager and cider in the main bar and ice cold cocktails at the Rum Shak.